Balmoral Castle

Ballater, United Kingdom

Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852, having been first leased in 1848. The castle is an example of Scots Baronial architecture.

King Robert II of Scotland (1316–1390) had a hunting lodge in the area. Historical records also indicate that a house at Balmoral was built by Sir William Drummond in 1390. A tower house was built on the estate by the Gordons.

Sir Robert Gordon, a younger brother of the 4th Earl of Aberdeen, acquired the estate in 1830. He made major alterations to the original castle at Balmoral, including baronial-style extensions that were designed by John Smith of Aberdeen.

Soon after the estate was purchased by the royal family in 1852, the existing house was found to be too small and the current Balmoral Castle was commissioned. The architect was William Smith of Aberdeen, although his designs were amended by Prince Albert.

In 1931, the castle gardens were opened to the public for the first time and they now are open daily between April and the end of July, after which Queen Elizabeth arrives for her annual stay. The ballroom is the only room in the castle that may be viewed by the public.

Architecture and surroundings

Though called a castle, Balmoral's primary function is that of a country house. It is a 'typical and rather ordinary' country house from the Victorian period. The tower and 'pepper pot turrets' are characteristic features of the residence's Scottish Baronial style. The seven story tower is an architectural feature borrowed from medieval defensive tower houses. Other features of the Scottish Baronial style are the crow-stepped gables, dormer windows, and battlemented porte-cochère.

Balmoral Estate is within the Cairngorms National Park and is partly within the Deeside and Lochnagar National Scenic Area. The 50,000-acre (20,000 ha) estate contains a wide variety of landscapes, from the Dee river valley to open mountains.



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Ballater, United Kingdom
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Founded: 1852
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom


4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ian Parkinson (4 months ago)
This is our second visit to Balmoral, have to say it never disappoints. OK so the castle isn't open to the public, but the grounds are and are so nice to walk around. Dogs are also welcome, and are allowed in the cafe.
Patrick Smith (5 months ago)
Great historical location full of history. The grounds are exceptional, and the folks we met there were very nice telling us the gistory. Didn’t know it was the second castle built there. Of course, that was in the late 19th century.
John vanDieken (5 months ago)
One of the best days out in Scotland, come before the royals arrive in late summer so you have access to the entire grounds. The cafe is excellent and not expensive, the history is fabulous and extensive. Well worth the trip.
Lorne Inglis (6 months ago)
The castle looks exactly like what most would imagine a Lego castle to look like! The grounds and the inside of the castle are an interesting and fun showcase of the royal family’s presence in Scotland. Everything is well kept and pretty, helped by its location within one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland. Go on a day with good weather, and you won’t want to leave. If you’re in Aberdeenshire or the Cairngorms, it’s absolutely worth a detour.
Don Harberts (9 months ago)
Does not get better! Awesome to be able to walk the grounds and have cup of tea with scones at the cafe! was nice to be able to to enjoy the grounds and have a seat to enjoy the beauty. Nice walk along the river and enjoy the beauty of nature! Would highly recommend going here any time of the year
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Kakesbeck Castle

Kakesbeck is one of the largest medieval fortifications in Münsterland and the oldest castle in Lüdinghausen. The imposingly grown complex originated in 1120 as a motte, a small hilltop tower castle. After numerous changes of ownership, the castle was extended onto two islands, but it was not until the 14th century that it underwent significant alterations and extensions under the von Oer family. The estate experienced its heyday in the middle of the 18th century, when it covered an area of almost one square kilometre and consisted of five further outer castles in addition to the core castle, which were secured by ramparts and moats.

The well-maintained condition of the castle today is thanks to the late Wilfried Grewing, the former lord of the castle. The foundation named after him has been particularly committed to preserving the property since 2020.