Derived from the Latin word castellum which means “fortified place”, a castle is widely known to be the fortress of lords and nobles during the medieval period. Built with towers and high walls to protect the people who live inside of it, you can find these old and huge castles around the world, some may be still completely built while some are just the remains of it.
Nowadays, castles are used as a private residence of kings and queens while some are open to the public as tourist attractions and some are even used as filming locations. Most of you must be wondering where those wonderful castles are, especially the ones you find in the movies or TV series.
One of Britain’s most iconic castles is the Alnwick Castle which is located in Northumberland, a county in North East England. It is dubbed as the “Windsor of the North” and has been the home of the Duke of Northumberland’s family for over 700 years. Today, the castle remains to be the home of the Percy family – the 12th Duke and Duchess together with their four children. Alnwick Castle is the second largest inhabited castle in England and is not only a private family home of the Duke and Duchess but also a historic monument, fantastic visitor attraction, as well as the center of a large business empire in Northumberland.
Alnwick Castle has a magnificent architecture and has been featured in many films like Downton Abbey. The castle is also famously known as the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter films. Alnwick Castle is open to the public and offers daily tours and talks. They also have museums and exhibitions as well as broomstick training sessions perfect for the Potter fans.
Another castle in Northumberland is the Bamburgh Castle, situated in the coastline of Bamburgh. It has been the home of the Kings of Northumbria since 1894 and has witnessed a lot of stories and myths. One of the myth is The Laidley Wyrme & The Toad In The Keep. According to this myth, there was once a princess turned dragon by her wicked stepmother. She was then saved by his brother from the evil spell and curses their stepmother who later on became a toad. This is just one of the many stories and myths that Bamburgh Castle has.
With around nine acres of land, this castle is now owned by the Armstrong Family after it was passed into the hands of the First Lord Armstrong. It was opened to the public in the mid-1900s leaving thrills and giving dramatic views to the visitors. An icon of the North East of England, Bamburgh Castle has also been featured in films. Some of the films are Huntingtower in 1927, Ivanhoe in 1952, Macbeth in 1971, and King Arthur in 2004. If you’re looking for a unique wedding venue or want to make your fairytale dream come true, the castle is open for private functions such as weddings.
Built in 1067, Belvoir Castle, named after a French word Belvoir meaning “beautiful view”, was constructed in the land given by William the Conqueror to Robert de Todeni, one of his Norman barons. It was built to defend the people from the attack but got destroyed in 1464 during the Wars of the Roses. They rebuilt it after 60 years but then fell down again in 1649. In the early 1800s, they once again rebuilt the castle for the 5th Duke and Duchess of Rutland which was spearheaded by Architect James Wyatt.
Today, the castle became the ancestral home of the Rutland and remains to be one of the most magnificent and beautiful structures in England. Belvoir Castle is open for events and film shoots. Some of the films shot at Belvoir Castle are Jim Henson’s Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story in 2001, The Young Victoria in 2009, and The Da Vinci Code in 2006.
Featured on Barry Lyndon in 1975 and Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties in 2006, Castle Howard is a castle in England conceived by the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, Charles Howard, and is known for its extraordinary dome. It took over a hundred years to complete this castle caused by many delays. One of which was because of his choice of architect. He handed the project to John Vanbrugh, a young playwright who had no architectural experience. Another thing that caused delay was Earl’s desire to finish the landscape which caused a distraction in completing the west wing.
They opened the castle to the public in 1952 despite being unroofed, which was destroyed by the devastating fire in 1940 and repaired in 1962. Today, Castle Howard is still open to the public, giving people access to exhibits, displays, as well as the garden and parks within the castle’s premises.
Home to Earls of Radnor for almost 300 years, Longford Castle was built in the late 16th century on the banks of River Avon in south Salisbury, Wiltshire, England. It took them several years to complete the castle. The main building of the castle has several floors in unusual triangular shape with a tower in each corner which represents the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. They also have a chapel, a kitchen, several boudoirs, and sitting rooms, and bedrooms. It was a hospital back in 1914-1918 and was occupied by British and American troops in 1939-1945.
Today, Longford Castle is known as one of the grandest stately homes in Britain and is currently the home to a world-class collection of art from paintings by van Deck to oriental porcelain, Brussels tapestries and even exceptional 18th century English and continental furniture. The castle has also been featured at the end of the movie The Princess Diaries, like the castle in Genovia. A book was also published to showcase the comprehensive story of the collectors and the treasures inside the castle.
The most iconic fortress in England, Dover Castle is known to be the “Key to England” because of its location and significant in the history. Indeed the largest castle in England, Dover Castle is a medieval castle built in Dover, Kent, England on 1066. The castle witnessed two world wars and sieges throughout the history.
Today, Dover Castle serves as a tourist attraction in England allowing locals and tourists to experience the great history of the castle. The tour lets you immerse yourself inside the Great Tower which is known as the royal court of King Henry II. Experience the drama of the Dunkirk vacation in the very tunnels with the state-of-the-art effects and real film footage that brings the dramatic event to life. Discover the atmospheric Underground Hospital of the castle, built for injured troops in 1941, as well as the secret wartime tunnels which provided shelter and safety to the people during the war. Dover Castle has been used as film locations as well as several films like The Wind in the Willows, Kevin & Perry, Johnny English, and Into The Woods.
One of the most beautiful castles in the Czech Republic is the Pernstejn Castle. A preserved Moravian castle deep in the forests of Bohemian-Moravian Highlands. The castle is the leading monument in Czech Republic and was a home to the Pernstejn family. Known to have mysterious inhabitant, Pernstejn Castle is definitely not for the faint-hearted. But if you want to discover an interesting history of Czech Republic, this is the perfect place to visit. Despite having a mysterious inhabitant, this castle is the favorite location of filmmakers. One of the films shot at Pernstejn Castle is the famous horror-thriller movie, Van Helsing.
Another medieval castle in England is the Cardiff Castle which is known to be one of the leading heritage attractions of Wales. Located in the heart of the capital city, Cardiff Castle was given to the city of Cardiff after the death of the 4th Marquess of Bute.
It has been a home to the National College of Music and Drama for 25 years, and become one of the tourist attractions in Wales. Cardiff Castle has seen various events such as musical performances by Tom Jones and even films like Doctor Who and Torchwood.
The 14th-century castle in Scotland, Doune Castle, was the home of Regent Albany, Scotland’s uncrowned king. The castle has a 100ft high gatehouse and is known to be one of the best preserved great halls in the country. It houses the lord’s tower, a great hall and kitchen tower, and a courtyard. Done Castle is famously known as the Winterfell castle in the award-winning TV series, Game of Thrones. But before it became a famous Hollywood film location, it was also featured in Outlander as Castle Leoch and in the 1975 cult classic, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Another castle in Scotland is the Slains Castle, also known as New Slains Castle. Famously known because of the tale of Count Dracula, only the ruins of Slains Castle are standing today. The castle witnessed a lot of misfortunes over time but remains to be a tourist attraction in Scotland because of its breathtaking scenery. Aside from the Dracula film, Slains Castle has also been seen on one of the famous Netflix Series, The Crown.