Unlike Europe, the construction of castles in North America rarely intended to support any invasions and any ambitious attacks from medieval sovereigns; they were built simply to portray the imposing grandeur of private residences, or served as hotels and luxurious add-ons to the ever-developing tourism of the country.
As Europe leaned towards modernism and forming industrially built structures made of iron, brick, and cement, Americans grew a liking for the majestic castle-like edifice, assembled in various styles such as southern Rayonnant and Romanesque to northern Norman and Theodor forts and villas.
To discover the most historic and atmospheric castles in America, here is a list of 20 enchanted strongholds to visit at least once.
America’s oldest castle soars amid the river-side prairie of Surry County. Built-in 1665, the castle features a rare expression of the Jacobean style of architecture across the continent- hence nicknamed Allen’s Brick House. With a contribution to defensive movements in the Royal Colony of Virginia and Bacon’s Rebellion, the castle had once taken part in defense and governing matters-hence, one of the most authentic forms of the castle in the country.
Today, Bacon castle is designated as a national historic landmark, with numerous exhibits, authentic artifacts belonging to the southern settlement, rebels, artworks, and much more- conserved as a house museum.
A vestige of early 20th century Hearst Castle was built in Mediterranean Revival style, in an attempt to recreate the lavish southern European villas. Bell towers, the whitewashed facade, holy sculptures of the Virgin Mary- the exterior strongly hints to Spanish cathedrals. Encircled by La Cuesta Encantada, or the enchanted hill, the cobblestone paved garden paths lead the way to the castle’s interior.
Rich in velvety murals and frescoes in all directions, the entire 115 rooms, Sala and baths, and even kitchen are adorned with elegant art pieces and architectural perfection- including the breathtaking Doge’s chamber which stands as a fine imitation of the Venetian Doge’s Palace.
Besides architecture, this national historic landmark is best known for its antique furniture, mostly collections of imported art and crafts by foreign artists.
Once home to Spanish lords who landed on the sabulous shores of Matanzas Bay, later a royal British prison, a native American penitentiary, and today a highly regarded national relic and tourist attraction- Castillo de San Marcos marks the oldest masonry citadel in America.
Researchers believe that this castle draws the line over the very beginning of America’s foundation, thus designated as a national monument site with over 4 centuries of rich history. The architecture hints to the star-shaped medieval fortresses, with military watchtowers, vaulted ceilings, and barricades overlooking the coast and ringing gardens.
With an elegant medieval appearance, Gillette Castle was not built to defend, neither promote tourism- it was merely a wishful and artistic inspiration of William Gillette, the renowned 20th-century American writer, and movie star. The artist’s fascination with life in the medieval era gave rise to his castle, built with the finest combinations of stone and wood.
Lounging over the verdant hillocks of the Upper Connecticut River, the exterior facade imitates medieval villas in Italy. On the interior, carved woodwork brought a warm and cozy ambient to the entire 24-room mansion, with lush adornments, antique collections, and the mirror works incorporated at the entrance.
Though it was not owned by a king, Bannerman Castle faced a destiny, acquainted with most citadels- devoured by a wildfire. Sprawling on the Pollepel Island, the atmospheric mansion was owned by a namesake arm merchant, who used his mansion to store guns, gunpowder, and other military ammunition. The castle’s opulent interior was destroyed by a fire accident that led to an explosion- and left behind the stone-built fortifications and the raw skeleton.
To visit the heritage Bannerman residence, visitors can paddle their way over the Hudson River or join the heritage tours of New York to access the outlandish castle-where historic relics blend with occasional events or fun music concerts.
At the vicinity of Nemacolin’s heritage trail, Bowman’s castle was built in fine Victorian architectural style around a trading post- as a strategic point to access both the Indian and modern trade men.
Resembling a fairytale mansion, the Bowman’s household earned its title of a castle for its picturesque demeanor. The family lived for generations in their residential villa, until it was contributed to the commonwealth, and serving as a scenic national historic site ever since.
Smithsonian Castle is plentiful in art, history, and culture, offering a richly decorated Gothic Revival architecture and a formal mall; where the 19th-century edifice harbors museums, administrative government chambers, and art galleries.
In addition to the artistic and cultural exhibitions, James Smithson’s tomb is safeguarded within the castle- who left all his state to the beneficiaries of the United States, comprising the academic institute, zoological gardens, the castle, and the museum- recognized as the world’s largest cultural exhibition and research institutes. Like all Smithsonian foundations, visiting the castle is completely free of cost.
Ever wondered what is it like to be treated like royalty? Visit Castle Marne bed-and-breakfast for a night of sophisticated comfort. Ranked as Denver’s paramount inn, the heritage hotel was built in 1889 as a residential mansion. Artistic fineries of the interior such as stained glass depictions, wood carving, and murals are melded within the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style and modern conveniences.
Just paces from Denver’s heritage district and many other Victorian attractions, experience the 19th-century elegance here, accompanied by warm hospitality and delectable cuisine.
Roadside castles are rather rare in America, where Wadsworth Atheneum castle lies around Hartford’s primary artery. Boasting a delightful Gothic revival style, the castle is featured as an art center and home to America’s oldest art museum with renowned master works.
Behind the fortified mein of the structure, works of Italian baroque masters such as Caravaggio, medieval naturalist, and French and Spanish surrealists adorned the walls of the museum- cherished as a national historic site and a cultural wealth worldwide.
A combination of architectural perfection and lawful discipline, the Eastern State Penitentiary was built to defend justice as America’s first prison- and one of the most famed penitentiaries across the globe. The initial design set an example for the world’s modern prison, to inspire true regret in the mind and heart of the captive outlaws.
Tales of murders, suicides, and even notorious prisoners such as Alphonse “Scarface” Capone, depict the eerie spirit of this so-called castle. Although today, the structure serves as a national historic landmark, a tourist attraction, and an event mansion for large gatherings.
Encircled by vast vineyards and the Azalea- themed Gardens, Baltimore castle carries the charm of medieval French chateaus. In 1862, the grand structure was architected to house Cornelius Vanderbilt. Presenting America’s largest residential mansion, the tour around Baltimore state includes; the richly decorated 250 rooms, frescoed salas and corridors, an authentic bowling alley, and a high-ceiling dining hall- together with wine tasting tours from the castle’s own crafty brews.
Located on Staten Island, the architectural fineness and gardens enchantment blend with the verdant coasts and spectacular backdrop of Blue Ridge Mountains- famed for its canvas- perfect vistas from the castle’s panoramic terrace.
The Vanderbilts’ taste for castle-like residences encouraged the construction of several mansions, including the Breakers Mansion. It was built by the very hands of Baltimore state architect, the renowned Richard Morris Hunt. The neoclassical Italiane structure of the castle was complemented with illusive gardens that meant to create seclusion with its groomed topiaries and flowering shrubs.
Roman legends and mythological figures are sprinkled across the great limestone hall in a tasteful organization, as an intellectual symbolism. Richly decorated music rooms, a banquet hall, living chambers on the upper floors all conceal a wealth of art and imported artifacts often handcrafted by renowned artists. Completed with the picturesque backdrops of Rhode Island, the castle is open for public viewing throughout the year.
The residential mansion of Fonthill was built in the early 20 century, as a grand contribution to new world structural elements. Chapman Mercer owned the building, whose vestiges are cherished now at the castle’s house museum. The external facade beams with gothic and Byzantine elements of architecture and early incorporations of cement, while the interior features detailed adornments, including the famous Moravian tiles.
Soaring over rolling green hills of Bucks County, the grand 44-room residential citadel is a national historic site, a praiseworthy architectural phenomenon, and a journey back to a younger America.
The fairy elements of Napa valley do not end at its enchanting meadows, sweeping vineyards, and roaming elk and grizzlies; Castello di Amorosa boasts the pixie aptness of renaissance Tuscan castles. Located at the heart of Calistoga’s wine country, the entire castle is sheltered in high rising barricades, sided with defensive moats. The fortified entrance leads the way into the interior courtyards, and ultimately to the interior, famed for its peculiar artifacts and rich decorations.
Vibrant frescoes, coffered ceilings, craft relics of the old world, renaissance torture devices, and the total architecture remind the glamour of Italian royalty during the renaissance period. Featuring a national historic site, the picturesque castle is named along the continent’s prettiest fortification- that serves as a posh wine tasting destination today.
Enlisted among America’s finest gothic-inclined architectures, Lyndhurst Mansion overlooks the sparkling surface of Hudson River in Tarrytown. Nicknamed the Jay Gould estate after its last owner, the gothic castle was not the ruling seat to any king; although it housed several families with kingly influence.
Whether fascinated by architectural excellence, interested in American national history and heritage exhibits or seeking a laid-back getaway sided with sophisticated elegance- Lyndhurst Mansion encompasses it all.
New York’s Central Park is an epicenter of many cultural and natural wonders; verdant meadows, curated passages crossing zoos, museums, art centers, and last but not least- the Belvedere Castle. In 1987, a Romanesque inclining structure was built as an ornamental addition to Gotham City, which later functioned as a weather tower.
Apart from the exhibitions of heritage vestiges and fairy tale breathtaking architecture, Belvedere Castle is celebrated as a ritzy national historic landmark with extremely photogenic attributes.
While wandering through the lush countryside of Bellville, visitors come across a baronial citadel, featuring robust architectural elements. Recognized as one of America’s youngest castles, it was composed in 2006, as an artistic impression of Mike Newman- the renowned Texan pastry chef.
While he still lives in his fit-for-a-king mansion, guided tours lead the spectators through the elaborate details and the residence’s noble conveniences. Encompassed by an impressive defensive moat, behind the tall barricades of the castle sit a great wealth of architectural excellence; from aristocratic chambers to horrifying dungeons, adorned with authentic knight costumes and sword collections.
As illustrated by its name, Castle in the Clouds rises over the mountaintops of the Ossipee Ranges. presenting the most elaborate form of American Craftsman architectural style, Thomas Gustave Plant, an American millionaire, built this romantic residence after his second marriage in 1918. Today the villa stands as an enthralling tourist attraction, and stop-over, on the way to the volcanic mountain park’s hikes- with an adjacent gallery, gift shop, and a scenic cafe.
The most iconic aspect of the castle lies over the observation area, known as the Crow’s nest. Overlooking the skirting slopes, several hiking trails lead down to the sandy shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. Hiking to cycling, and skating to ice fishing-recreation here changes by the season.
The geographical position and picturesque appearance of Norumbega Inn have been often described as “the Stone House by the Sea”- towering over the verdant Gulf of Maine. Portraying a sophisticated representation of Queen Anne’s composition style, the heritage hotel was constructed in the late 19th century, as a lavish private residence.
Over four decades of first-grade hospitality, spectacular accommodations are combined with the window vistas of the region’s pastoral beauty and sparkling coasts of Atlantis, posh comfort, and gourmet grande cuisine.
The last castle on our list is a Theodor-style mansion in Lakewood, supposedly haunted and partly made in Europe. Over a century ago, Chester Thorne constructed a residential mansion with subtle characteristics of an Albion Heritage castle.
With components such as parts of a 15th-century mansion shipped from England, stained glasses from typical European citadels, ancient English oak, and archetypal demonstrations of formal English gardens- the 54-room mansion is a genuine example of gothic English castles. Designated as a historic national landmark, it hosts occasional private events and overnight lodging- for a romantic stay in aristocratic chambers and amid your very own fairytale.
Ohio is the place that old meets the new; here is an overview on three best castles here in Ohio, The Heart of It All;
On the fertile banks of Little Miami River, Loveland Castle is a stone-built historic landmark and a museum. Encircled by enchanted gardens, the structure boasts the sentiments of a glorified medieval Norman settlement, with a rocky and rustic exterior. Except for mesmerising museum exhibits, Andrews’ bedroom is the castle’s iconic attraction.
At a stone’s throw from North Chagrin Nature Center, Squire’s Castle is a truly enchanted sight- for its picturesque architecture of the Baronial Revival of the 19th century, and the alleged stories of the ghost of castles past residents.
Piatt Castles, namely Mac-O-Chee and Mac-A-Cheek, are the historic homes of the wealthy literary inhabitant and his brother. In addition to the exceptional Flemish architecture and enthralling gardens, the buildings serve as national historic sites and house museums since a century ago.