About three years ago, I posted a list of my favourite castles, based on my experience touring the United Kingdom. THEN, I went to Paris, and after two years of mulling it over I found it necessary to finally update the list.
1) Edinburgh Castle. This is still number one!
2) Tower of London. Still at number two.
3) Chateau de Versailles, or Versaille Palace. This shoots right to the top 3 immediately, it highlights ALL the splendour and magnificence of French society and culture, that erm, uhm, led to the fall of the aristocracy. Some say there is a subtle distinction between a castle and a palace, and based on the subtle nuances of language and definitions, there is something to it. In French there is thing called a “Château fort”, or fortified castle, this is basically a stereotypical stone castle. Versailles is not fortified in similar fashion, but it is still defensible! Besides, this is my list, it is a castle! Read more on their website.
4) Musée du Louvre. Before becoming the modern museum that we know today, it too was a palace used by the French royalty. See my palace/castle diatribe above :-). It is an amazing place housing artwork from antiquity! Including, but not limited to the famous Mona Lisa! In advance of my trip, I naively assumed the French Crown Jewels were destroyed, during the French Revolution. I was sooooo wrong, and they are on display! Unlike, say the castles that hold places at one and two, there is no conveyor belt accelerating you past the display, you can linger, obverse, and even take pictures for as long as you want. Be sure to pay hommage to King Louis while you are in the Apollo wing! Read more on their website.
5) Nottingham Castle. I had to downgrade this two places, as you know, the two French ones were so cool! But for sentimental reasons defined in the original post, gets a higher placement.
6) Farnham Castle. This one comes in after I was in England for my cousin’s wedding, and his reception was held on site. I also was fortunate to be an overnight guest! I GOT TO SLEEP IN A 900 YEAR OLD NORMAN CASTLE! Well, I sort of sleep a little, I was too excited to sleep, since I got to spend a night in the castle. This castle has held many roles in the Market town of Farnham in the Surrey Region of England, various monarchs and bishops have utilised it during it’s history. The preserved ruins are maintained by English Heritage which is separate from conference facilities that I got to “sleep in”. As I walked around the ruins, there were warning signs at the base of the walls “Beware of falling rock”. I punched the wall a few times, laying siege to the castle. If a rock fell on me, at least I would have been wounded trying to invade a castle!!! Read more at their website.
7) Inverary Castle.
8) Blair Castle.
9) Castle Menzies.
10) Inverness Castle.
11) Urquhart Castle.
12) La Citadelle de Québec, this one makes the list after a few trips to Québec City. It is a new world castle, and definitely fits the category “Château fort”. I haven’t had the opportunity to tour in it yet, but surely once I do, it will get a higher placement. Read more on their website.
12) Casa Loma. New world castle in Toronto. Sadly I downgraded this one three places from the last time. Still very cool, and based on 30+ year memories, still worth a trip!
But wait! You are saying “Thomas, Chateau Frontenac in Québec City is also a new world castle”. It is, and a magnificent structure at that, but until such a time as I get to stay as a guest, I give it honourable mention.