USA November 12, 2017
Here Are The 17 Most Magnificent Castles Across The U.S.
Stop hoarding those airline miles and deflate that travel pillow: you don’t need to fly overseas to get your castle fix. We’ve assembled a list of the most incredible castles in the United States and we think they can definitely contend with even the most impressive fairytale palace. Check out all the amazing spots across the nation to reenact your “Game of Thrones” fantasies. Don’t forget to pick up your coronation robes from the dry cleaner before you go.
1. Bannerman Castle in Fishkill, New York.
Constructed in 1851 by Scottish entrepreneur Francis Bannerman, this castle was actually meant to house Bannerman’s enormous stockpile of military equipment and ammunition. The elaborately decorated buildings were designed by Bannerman himself and nearly all construction was completed without the input of architects, engineers, or contractors. A smaller castle was also erected adjacent to the main sprawling complex, which served as the family’s summer home. Two years after Bannerman’s death in 1918, over 200 pounds of stored shells and powder exploded and destroyed much of the main castle. A suspicious fire in 1969 left much of the remaining structure in ruins. Today, hard hat walking tours are conducted by the Bannerman Castle Trust historians from May through October. Check out more amazing castles in New York.
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2. Cliff Palace in Mesa Verda National Park, Colorado.
This Ancestral Puebloan palace is the largest cliff dwelling in North America and is approximately 826 years old. The Ancestral Pueblo that constructed this massive fortress used it as a social and ceremonial site, and it is estimated that around 100 people once occupied its 150 rooms. Besides being absolutely breathtaking, the Cliff Palace is a national treasure and a reminder of the might of early indigenous peoples.
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3. Martin Castle in Versailles, Kentucky.
This picturesque castle may look straight out of a fairytale, but it’s actually a child of the 1960s. Built in 1969 by Rex Martin and Caroline Bogaert Martin and inspired by the romantic architecture the couple had toured during a trip to Germany, Martin Castle was later sold and converted to a luxury hotel in 2004. The property is currently on the market, but if you don’t happen to have $3 million lying around to spend on a storybook retreat, you can still book a room for the evening.
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4. The Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
This breathtaking structure hits that sweet spot between a futuristic skyscraper and a soaring gothic cathedral spire. The Cathedral of Learning is the tallest academic building in the world and serves as a navigational landmark for the entire Pittsburgh area. Most students at University of Pittsburgh have many classes inside this monolith.
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5. Stadium High School in Tacoma, Washington.
Do you remember watching “10 Things I Hate About You” and wondering which ancient european estate the film rented in order shoot those high school scenes? Well, surprise: that sprawling castle is actually a fully-operational center of learning. Built in 1891 as luxury hotel meant to resemble a French château, this massive structure now serves the high school students of Tacoma. Lucky ducks.
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6. Coral Castle in Homestead, Florida.
This castle has been puzzling experts and tourists alike since its construction in the early 1920s by Latvian immigrant, Edward Leedskalnin. The structure is built of coral-formed limestone that was sourced, moved, and carved by a SINGLE man. A five-foot tall, 100-pound man. Leedskalnin worked at night to ensure his methods remained mysterious and was reported to have only a fourth grade education. How did this guy manage to transport and shape stones standing up to 25 feet tall and weighing in at over 30 tons? No one knows. His incredible labor of love continues to perplex visitors to this day.
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7. The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island.
The Breakers was built as the Newport summer home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, a member of the wealthy United States Vanderbilt family. Constructed between 1893 and 1895, the footprint of the house covers approximately an acre of the 13-acre estate on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The dining room features 12 freestanding rose alabaster corinthian columns, and the walls of some rooms in the estate are covered in platinum leaf.
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8. Wilson Castle in Proctor, Vermont.
This architectural masterpiece in the heart of the Green Mountains was built in 1867, and has served as the home of five generations of the Wilson family. This elegant estate is equipped with 84 stained-glass windows, 13 fireplaces, two fairytale spires, and one (rumored) haunting spirit. You can even attend a murder mystery dinner here, if you haven’t had the appetite scared out of you by one of their ghost tours.
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9. The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.
The Biltmore is the largest privately-owned home in America and one of the most popular tourism destinations on the East Coast. The estate is a Châteauesque-styled mansion built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895. Among countless other luxuries and Gilded Age amenities, this 205-room castle has separate pastry and rotisserie kitchens, as well as secret door panels on either side of a grand fireplace leading to the”Bachelors’ Wing,” an area where female guests and staff members were not allowed.
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10. Old LA State Capitol Building in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Also called the ”The Castle of Baton Rouge”, this stunning structure was built in 1847 and served as the capitol building for many years until 1932. Today, the estate is a museum of political history and the site of an annual ball during which attendees dance the night away in elaborate 18th- and 19th-century dress.
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11. The Branford House, in Groton, Connecticut.
Branford House was built in 1902 for Morton Freeman Plant, a local financier and philanthropist. Today, the estate belongs to UConn Avery Point, which allows the property to be rented and used for functions. The house is full of architectural oddities, such as a two-story fireplace surrounded by a clothes-drying conveyor belt doors unexpectedly leading into exterior walls.
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12. Old City Hall in Richmond, Virginia.
Constructed in 1894 out of local granite, Old City Hall served as Richmond’s political seat until the 1970s. The massive city call features an soaring atrium, arched cloisters, a grand staircase and a stunning clock tower.
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13. Solomon's Castle in Ona, Florida.
Three stories high and covered with reclaimed printing plates, Solomon's Castle is the work of artist Howard Solomon. He began building his castle in 1972 and the bizarre structure currently serves as an exhibition gallery for several hundred pieces of Solomon’s unsold sculpture. Located in swampy central Florida, this is a real hidden gem in the world of roadside attractions.
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14. Westminster Castle in Westminster, Colorado.
Also locally known as "The Big Red Castle" or "The Pillar of Fire" (both top-notch nicknames), this castle grew out of Henry T. Mayham’s dream of establishing a Presbyterian university on his land atop a hill overlooking Denver. With dreams of creating "The Princeton of the West”, Mayham began construction in 1890 and completed his pet project in 1893. Classes began in 1908 and tuition was $50 per year, “including indoor plumbing.” In a puzzling move, the school board moved to exclude women from attending in 1915. Just two years later, enrollment plummeted to zero with the onset of World War I and resultant departure of most young men to the battlefield. The college was shuttered in 1917, choosing to close rather than admit female students. Check out
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15. Old Vanderburgh County Courthouse in Evansville, Indiana.
Can you believe that this palatial structure is a civic office? Constructed in 1888, the Old Vanderburgh County Courthouse is sure to strike awe into any crook led through its imposing doors. This building looks better fit for an emperor than jury duty.
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16. Bishop’s Palace in Galveston, Texas.
Bishop’s Palace was built in the late 1880s by architect Nicholas J. Clayton for lawyer and politician Walter Gresham and his family. It was later sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston in 1923. It’s open for daily tours, and can also be rented for functions and special occasions.
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17. The Crane Estate at Castle Hill in Ipswich, Massachusetts.
This monumental property former summer home of Mr. and Mrs. Richard T. Crane, Jr, though its history actually dates back as far as 1634 when Governor John Winthrop was deeded the Castle Hill land as an enticement to stay in the town of Ipswich. The current structure is actually the SECOND castle to stand on the property: Mr. Crane had originally built a massive Italianesque mansion atop the hill in 1921. However, his wife, Florence, felt that the mansion was too cold and drafty. Crane countered by promising that if she would give it ten years, he would replace it if she still insisted. She insisted, and the current castle was completed in 1928. If only all marital problems could be solved so easily.
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The next time you feel like your day could use more parapets and courtly intrigue, just remember: an incredible castle may be hiding right around the corner in your state. Did we miss your favorite American castle? Have you checked out any of the places on this list? Have any moat-digging tips you’d like to share? Let us know!