Scotland's turbulent history has endowed the nation with a rich heritage perhaps best reflected by the host of castles throughout the country, all of them magical places to behold, conjuring up images of times past. Some castles are now hotels, some have been bought and restored by the National Trust for Scotland whilst others have been left as ruins.
Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull, built in the 13th century for the MacDougalls, is a splendid example of an ancient Scottish castle. In 1911 Sir Fitzroy MacLean bought the castle and restored it to the state that it is in today. Housing an array of MacLean memorabilia, the castle is open to the public for tours.
One of the most famous castles in Scotland is Balmoral Castle set in Royal Deeside. The summer holiday home of the Royal Family, the building itself is magnificent but is modern by castle standards. Balmoral Castle started life as a 16th century tower house and it was not until 1853 that William Smith was commissioned to build a castle in the Scottish Baronial style.
Edinburgh Castle is the most prestigious Scottish castle and was built high on a hill, with spectacular rock face, to deter invaders. Made of stone and built around 1058 - 1093, the castle changed hands between the Scottish and English many times and was consequently strengthened on numerous occasions. Similarly,
Stirling Castle changed hands on several occasions, more than any other Scottish castle, in fact. It is a grand place, Scotland's most strategic castle, and, having endured such turbulent times over the centuries, it is no surprise that Stirling Castle is reputedly home to many ghosts.
Another of the most popular tourist attractions is Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness. Like so many of Scotland's fortresses, Urquhart Castle witnessed a great deal of harsh fighting over the centuries. Visitors flock here also in the hope of catching a glimpse of Nessie, the Loch Ness monster!
Of course these are just a few of Scotland's castles - there are a great many more, preserved and in ruin. If you love history, Scotland is the perfect place to visit.
Balmoral Castle - Ballater , Aberdeenshire, AB35 5TB
Tel: +44 (0)13397 42334
Bothwell Castle- Uddingston, Near South Lanarkshire, G71 8BL
Tel: +44 (0)1698 816 894
Caerlaverock Castle - Dumfries, Dumfriesshire, DG1 4RU
Tel: +44 (0)1387 770 244
Edinburgh Castle - Castle Hill Edinburgh, EH1 2NG
Tel: +44 (0)131 225 9846
St Andrews Castle - North Street St Andrews, Fife, KY16
Tel : 01334 477196
Stirling Castle - At the head of Stirling's historic old town off the M9.
Tel: 01786 450000.
Urquhart Castle - Loch Ness by Drumnadrochit, Inverness-shire
Tel: +44 (0) 1456 450551.