If you’ll be traveling to London for the Olympics or just visiting the United Kingdom on holiday, you don’t want to miss the region’s fascinating medieval castles. Castles are steeped with history as a long-time symbol of wealth and power by kings, queens and lords over the ages, and anyone who enjoys history, or just amazing architecture will appreciate a visit.
The Tower of London is a very popular attraction that is in the heart of the city, which means this summer may not be the best time to tour it. Instead, we’ll take a look at the castles outside the immediate London area, which should be a bit easier to access.
The journey to Scotland is well worth the trek, and easily reached by train or by car hire. Some of the best castles here include Fyvie Castle in the spectacular northeast Highlands, just north of Aberdeen. Fyvie was completed eight centuries ago by William the Lion. It was once a royal stronghold with five towers representing the five families who’ve lived there over the past 800 years.
Take a tour of the extensive portrait collection and luxurious furnishings, and you might even catch a glimpse of the ghost of Lady Meldrum. She was one of the members of the Meldrum clan, calling the castle home in the 13th century. Buried inside the castle, sealed in the wall of a secret room inside the Meldrum Tower, her spirit is said to remain.
Edinburgh Castle is in the center of the of Europe’s most picturesque cities, and sits atop an extinct volcano. Edinburgh is known as the “Athens of the North,” and this historic city is built on hills, surrounded by gorgeous coastline and is full of colorful gardens and cathedrals. The castle is home to the dazzling crown jewels and here you can also explore stunning palace rooms as well as “Mons Meg,” a medieval siege gun.
Warwick Castle sits at the edge of the River Avon, and is less than a two hour drive northeast of London. Built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, it’s said to be the place where many myths and legends were born. Warwick is home to the famed Caesar’s Tower and Dungeon and includes many colorful gardens presenting lots of picture perfect opportunities.
Discover opulent palace rooms and hear magical stories of knights and princesses, but visitors should beware, the dungeon may be too frightening for those who scare easily.
In the north of England, about a 3 ½ hour drive from London, you’ll find Skipton Castle, one of the best preserved medieval castles in existence. Located in North Yorkshire, it dates back over nine centuries. There are lots of nooks and crannies for visitors to explore here as well as a tea room and gorgeous castle grounds.
Four hours northwest of London on the north coast of Wales, you’ll find Conwy Castle in the small walled community of Conwy. The town itself is well worth the trek, and the castle evokes an authentic trip back in time to medieval days. Overlooking the River Conwy, it was built in the late 13th century of Edward I, and was one of the largest and most expensive of his castle building efforts in Wales.
The views from the castle of the town walls, the mountains and the sea are nothing less than breathtaking.
Related Europe posts: