Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, and abandoned castles are proof of that. Our planet is filled with significant ancient structures, not just the pretty maintained ones. Real beauty lies in the ruins that seek an eye to witness their charm. These castles may not express their royalty but are an excellent expression of their defence mechanisms and power. The beauty of these castles might be measurable, but the depth of their history is not. Abandoned structures not only echo with their history but also symbolise their wealth, the decay of a generation that lived there, their luxury, and sometimes even the ghosts of its dignitaries.
So many structures have been destroyed and are now considered a waste of land, yet for the ones with an eye to observe, we have a list of 15 world’s most beautiful abandoned castles to look at.
Peveril Castle, Castelton
The Peveril Castle is situated in a beautiful location overlooking the village of Castleton in the Peak District of County Derbyshire and is owned by The Duchy of Lancaster. The abandoned castle was a construction of the Norman Conquest of 1066 and was occupied until the 14th century, after which it was stripped of its material for re-use. This event marked the decline of the castle. The castle had extra importance due to the valuable mineral resources found in the area, particularly lead. The castle’s reconstruction took place in the 19th century when the site became a tourist attraction due to the advent of railways. The castle is listed as a Grade 1 building in Scheduled monuments and is open to visitors.
Fountains Abbey, Ripon
Fountains Abbey is one of the best-preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in England. It is also one of the largest monasteries of England and is located in southwest Ripon in Northern Yorkshire. The Abbey was founded in 1132 by 13 monks who were great devouts and wanted to lead a simple God-fearing life away from the other wealthy monks of York. The Abbey operated for more than 400 years before King Henry VIII ordered its demolition in 1539. The site is now demolition of the original church, which was approximately two-storey high and was built of stone. The archaeological excavation of the site began in 1846 and is now listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Abbey is listed as a Grade 1 building and is currently maintained by The National Trust.
Gwrych Castle, Abergele
Gwrych Castle meaning the “hedged castle”, is a country house near Abergele in Conwy County Borough, Wales. The long-abandoned castle is safely nestled in the hills of Tan y Gopa woods and was built in 1825 by Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh, in memory of his mother. The castle is known as “The Showpiece of Wales” and has attracted many visitors. For more than a hundred years, the castle was a stately home and acted as a refugee for Jewish children during World War II. Gwrych Castle is also famous for being used as a training centre for the English World Middleweight boxing champion Randolph Turpin in the early 1950s. The castle has now been bought by the Gwrych preservation trust and is listed as a Grade 1 building.
Beeston Castle, Tarporley
Beeston Castle is a former Royal castle in Beeston, Cheshire, England, and is positioned overlooking the Cheshire plain. The castle was built in the 1220s by Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester, and its ownership was taken by Henry III in 1237. The castle was partly demolished and abandoned by the orders of Oliver Cromwell to prevent its further use as a stronghold in 1643. The castle’s gatehouse is still visible, and the castle is listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument owned and managed by English Heritage.
Ballycarbery Castle, Ireland
Ballycarbery Castle is a 16th century ruined castle built near the Water’s edge in County Kerry, Ireland. The edifice of the castle was destroyed when Oliver Cromwell’s troops attacked it with cannon fire. The leftover stones of the castle were taken away by local farmers to build their projects. In the 18th century, a house was constructed on the site and was inhabited by the Lauder Family but was demolished in the early 20th century. The castle was also a witness to the War of The Three Kingdoms and is currently not open to the public.
Pidhirtsi Castle, Ukraine
The castle was regarded as the most valuable palace-garden complex in the eastern borderlands of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Built in the 17th century, the castle was considered one of the finest castles in Europe. Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan constructed the castle by order of the Commonwealth’s Grand Crown Hetman Stanisław Koniecpolski on the older fortress. The impressive Renaissance-style abandoned stone castle was also used to film D’Artagnan and Three Musketeers in 1978.
Bannerman’s Castle, New York
Pollepel Island is an island in the Hudson River of New York, and the principal feature of the island is Bannerman’s Castle. Pollepel Island is also sometimes called Bannerman’s Island and is about 50 miles from the Hudson River’s eastern bank. Bannerman’s Castle is a 19th-century gothic-looking abandoned castle built to house Francis Bannerman VI, who mainly used it as a summer residence and stored his military goods. Bannerman’s Castle is maintained by the Bannerman castle trust and is open to visitors.
Frankenstien’s Castle, Germany
Frankenstein’s Castle is a hilltop castle in the Odenwald overlooking the city of Darmstadt in Germany. The castle was an inspiration for the famous author Mary Shelley when she wrote her Gothic novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, in 1818. A physician Johann Konrad Dippel was born in the castle and invented an animal oil that claimed to transfer souls between dead bodies.
Havré Castle, Belgium
Havré Castle, also known as Château d’Havré, is a ruined castle in the village of Havré in the town of Mons, province of Hainaut, Wallonia, Belgium. The castle was constructed in the 12th century when Ida of Mons was married to Engelbert d’Enghien in 1255. Over the years, the castle was sold, brought, and abandoned. After the French invasion of 1792, the castle was sold as national property and was gradually abandoned. Unfortunately, in 1579 a devastating fire burnt the castle to the walls, the present Havré Castle and can be visited.
Castle Stalker, Scotland
Located on the tiny island off the west coast of Scotland, Castle Stalker is a haven of early Scottish history. It was built around 1320 by the Lords of Lord, Clan MacDougall, and the name “stalker” comes from the Gaelic Stalcaire, which means “hunter” or “falconer”. The castle is a medieval tower house standing on the Lynn of Lorn National Scenic Area, one of forty such areas in Scotland. It was abandoned at the beginning of the 19th century and was used as a storage house until 1840. The castle was also used to film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The castle remains in private ownership and is open to visitors during summer.
Spiš Castle, Slovakia
Spiš Castle is one of the largest castle sites in Central Europe. Built in the 12th century, the castle was soon destroyed by the invasion of the tartars. The castle was owned by the Kings of Hungary, who donated it to the Zapolsky family. The Zapolsky family re-did the castle’s construction and built a chapel in the castle dedicated to Saint Elisabeth. The last family to house the castle was the Csakys, who left it to ruin after the fire of 1780. Presently, the 900-year old castle is included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites and is administered by the Spiš Museum at Levoča, a division of the Slovak National Museum.
Predjama Castle, Slovenia
Predjama Castle is known as the largest cave castle in the world and one of the most haunted castles. Built in the cave mouth in south-central Slovenia, Predjama Castle is an ancient marvellous Renaissance castle. The Gothic-style abandoned castle was created by the Patriarch of Aquileia in 1274. As the legend goes, the castle was attacked by a robber named Erazem Lueger, who stole from the rich to distribute it to the poor. Lueger killed all the royal members of the palace and moved into it during the 15th century. Luegar was later killed in cannon fire. Sections of the abandoned fortress are still accessible to the public in daylight.
Sammezzano Castle, Italy
Castello di Sammezzano or Sammezzano Castle is an Italian Palazzo of Moorish Revival architectural style. The castle was erected in Lecco in the province of Florence. The abandoned castle took more than half to a century to complete and has a marvellous housing of 365 rooms for 365 days of the year, each with an individual design. After the Second World War, the castle was converted into a 5-star luxurious hotel but was shut down in the 1990s. The castle is up for private sale and is currently not open to visitors.
Dunottar Castle, Scotland
Dunnotar Castle is a ruined medieval castle on the northeastern coast of Scotland, on the south of Stonehaven. It is also famously known as the place where the honours of England, the Scottish crown jewels, were hidden when Oliver Cromwell led the invasion of the 17th century. The ruins of the castle are vastly spread, which includes a 14th-century tower house and a 16th-century palace. The abandoned castle is currently owned by Dunecht Estates and is open to the public.
Matsumoto Castle, Japan
Matsumoto Castle is one of Japan’s most important historic locations, including Himeji and Kumamoto. The castle building is also referred to as “crow castle” due to its outer blackish complexion. Shimadachi Sadanaga built the castle in the Sengoku period. The castle’s original keep and inner walls have survived, and several gates have been rebuilt since 1960. Currently, the castle is a National Historic Site of Japan and is owned by the National Treasure.
Ruined or not, abandoned castles always have a tale to whisper; one has to have the right ears to listen. Not just fifteen, there are thousands of more remains of such powerful castles that have a story to tell, and the quest is never-ending, as long as the curiosity goes on and on.