Written by K.C. Dermody
Many international travelers visit Britain to see the country's many fantastic medieval castles, something Americans don't have the luxury of experiencing here at home. The castles of Britain are steeped with history as a long time symbol of wealth and power by kings, queens and lords over the ages. Here is a look at the top 10 not-to-be-missed medieval castles in Great Britain.
1. Tower of London
The Tower of London, located in the heart of the city of London, is the home of the Crowned Jewels, a priceless symbol of British Monarchy. The Tower has also been the home of many political prisoners who were tortured and subsequently executed, with numerous fascinating reports of spirits that remain.
The oldest structure is the massive White Tower, completed back in 1097. Admission of $32 USD includes a guided tour of the tower, historical re-enactments, exhibitions and more.
2. Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle was built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. It is located at the edge of the River Avon and quite the magnificent sight to behold. It's where many myths and legends began, home to the famed Caesar's Tower and Dungeon, as well as colorful gardens that dot the well-manicured landscape.
At Warwick you'll hear the magical stories of knights and princesses told, in addition to discovering the opulent palace rooms. Adult admission to the Castle Kingdom starts at $33 USD. Warning: The dungeon may be a bit too frightening for young children.
3. Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is one of the Queen's official residences, and also a medieval castle dating back to the time of William the Conqueror. It's the largest and oldest castle in the world, with parts of it open to the public. Visit fine works of art, including Rembrandt paintings, and photographs of the Queen herself over the last 60 years. Admission is about $15 USD per adult.
4. Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle is another home with a very turbulent history, set on two islands on the River Len in Kent, England. Its park-like setting is nothing less than magnificent, and the castle itself exudes romance and mystery dating back over 900 years.
Adult admission is about $30 USD, and there is enough to see to fill your entire day.
5. Skipton Castle
Skipton Castle is one of the best preserved medieval castles in existence, dating back over nine centuries and located in North Yorkshire, England. The castle is so strong it withstood a three year siege by the Roundheads during the Civil War. Explore the castle and its beautiful grounds for just $10.50 USD per adult.
6. Berkeley Castle
Berkeley Castle is an ancient fortress that was completed in the late 12th century, the home of the same family for 850 years. It is one of the most remarkable examples of medieval architecture in the nation, located in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, England.
Here you can visit the King's Gallery, where Edward II was held prisoner and later murdered, as well as the China Room where you can view the bedspread of Queen Elizabeth I. Admission is $15 USD per adult.
7. Glamis Castle
Glamis Castle is in the village of Glamis, just outside Angus on Scotland's picturesque east coast. It's been the ancestral home of the Earls of Strathmore for over 600 years, and was visited by Mary Queen of Scotts in 1562. Castle admission prices range from $11.45 to $44.22 USD.
8. Fyvie Castle
Fyvie Castle is in the spectacular northeast Highlands, just north of Aberdeen, Scotland. It was completed by William the Lion 900 years ago, and was once a royal stronghold with five towers that represent the five families that have been inhabitants over the centuries. The castle is currently used as a fantasy wedding venue, but you can also take a tour of the extensive portrait collection and luxurious furnishings.
You might even glimpse Lady Meldrum here, one of the family members of the Meldrum clan who called this castle home in the 13th century. She was buried inside the castle, sealed in the wall of a secret room inside the Meldrum Tower. Her spirit is said to remain, now called the "Grey Lady," and frequently spotted by those who visit. Admission is $17.37 USD per adult.
9. Dunvegan Castle
Dunvegan is the oldest inhabited castle in all of Scotland; it's the ancestral home of the Clan MacLeod, the same family who lives there today. The remote castle is located on the wild and rugged Isle of Skye off of Scotland's west coast, and well worth the spectacular journey to reach it, built over eight centuries ago. Admission is $15 USD per adult.
10. Edinburgh Castle
Right in the center of one of Europe's most beautiful cities, Edinburgh Castle sits atop an extinct volcano and is considered a powerful symbol of Scotland's heritage. Discover the dazzling crown jewels and explore the stunning palace rooms as well as "Mons Meg," a medieval siege gun.
The first reference to this amazing historical site dates back to 600 AD, referred to as the fortress on the rock. In 1030, the castle was built with a chapel that still stands today. Admission is $22 USD per adult.
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