Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most recognised castles in Scotland. It is, without doubt, a Scottish icon and certainly one of the most popular visitor attractions in the Highlands. When you first set eyes on it, it is easy to understand why so many people flock to its stout doors year after year. Strategically located on its own little island, overlooking the Isle of Skye, at the point where three great sea-lochs meet, and surrounded by the majestic splendour of the forested mountains of Kintail, Eilean Donan’s setting is truly breath-taking.

Crossing the bridge to today’s castle, the fourth version, you can clearly understand why Bishop Donan chose the tranquil spot back in 634 AD to settle on it and create a monastic cell. The first castle was later established in the 13th century by Alexander II in an effort to help protect the area from Viking incursions. At this stage in history the original castle encompassed the entire island and is believed to have been constructed with seven towers connected by a massive curtain wall. Over the centuries, the castle contracted and expanded for reasons that still remain a mystery to this day, until 1719 when it was involved in one of the lesser known Jacobite uprisings. When the British Government learned that the castle was occupied by Jacobite leaders along with a garrison of Spanish soldiers, three Royal Navy frigates were sent to deal with the uprising. On the 10th of May 1719, the three heavily armed warships moored a short distance off the castle and bombarded it with cannon. With walls of up to 5 metres thick, these cannon had little impact, but eventually the castle was overwhelmed by force. Discovering 343 barrels of gunpowder inside, the Commanding officer gave orders to blow the castle up; following which Eilean Donan lay in silent ruin for the best part of two hundred years.

The castle that visitors enjoy so much today was reconstructed as a family home between 1912 and 1932 by Lt Col John MacRae-Gilstrap, and incorporated much of the ruins from the 1719 destruction. At this point the bridge was added; a structure that is as much a part of the classic image as the very castle itself.

Visitors now have the opportunity to wander round most of the fabulous internal rooms of the castle viewing period furniture, Jacobean artefacts, displays of weapons and fine art. Historical interest and heritage are in abundance with informed guides happy to share a wealth of knowledge. Extremely popular with families, a visit to Eilean Donan promises lots of fun for the kids whether it be swinging a Claymore, spying through the spy holes, lifting the cannon balls, gazing at the fearsome portcullis or exploring the ancient battlements. Wildlife surrounds the island too, with regular viewings of porpoise, dolphins, otters and birdlife. For those feeling particularly romantic, weddings can even be arranged inside the beautiful Banqueting Hall.

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Address

A87, Highland, United Kingdom
See all sites in Highland

Details

Founded: c. 1250
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jamie Lewis (2 years ago)
Wow just wow, one of the most photographed castles in Scotland and a must for both history and Highlander film fans. Only £10 to get in which is well worth it. The views from inside the castle are worth the entry fee on their own. When you walk over the bridge you can feel the history flow from this place. Awesome
Rob Fowler (2 years ago)
Driving up the A87, I saw something that I thought only existed in fiction. About a mile up the road was Eilean Donan castle. "I don't care how late we are, I'm stopping to see this." I thought to myself. You will not be disappointed. Look at the pictures. Even if you don't like history, you just have to go here. See it, be immersed. And for fear of us all spoiling it, support the people that maintain this place for literally thousands of tourists every year to enjoy. If they didn't do their job, the serenity and beauty of this place would be lost forever. I recommend sunset on a clear day for a view that will stay with you forever. For a more peaceful distant view, about a mile or so South, on the northbound side of the A87, is a rest area overlooking the entire Loch and castle. But don't cheap out, go see it up close too!
Akshay Sonthalia (2 years ago)
I think it's a bit overrated. There are lots of bigger and more interesting castles
Brian Brackrog (2 years ago)
Lovely scenic castle that has a parking lot when passing through the area. Located at the convergence of 3 different Lochs, Eilean Donan Castle has an interesting history and offers daily tours and tickets to explore the place on your own. If pressed for time, there are excellent opportunities to walk the outside grounds for free and get stunning view points of the castle without committing to the tour.
Costel Nejneru (Lexa RC) (2 years ago)
The castle is awesome. There is a fee to enter the building itself but for me the Eilean Donan Castle is the image you get from outside. Standing on the lake bank, even from the parking lot the Castle's beauty is overwhelming. Taking a few minutes to walk around the area to find a quite place away from all the tourists will truly open your view of the majestic Eilean Donan Castle.
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