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Urquhart and Eilean Donan,
Two emblematic Scottish castles


Mary Elizabeth Collins


There are many castles that can be visited in Scotland, but these two stand out for their beauty and historical significance.


 

 

Scotland would not be the same without the charm of its castles. They are numerous. So much so that it would be impossible to visit this country— part of the United Kingdom—without seeing a few of them since they are an integral part of its ancestral cultural heritage. Most of them are in ruins, but others have been restored and brought back to their former glory.

Two of the most emblematic castles of this ancient land are Urquhart and Eilean Donan. They are unique places, immersed in Scotland’s ancient history —rich in myths and legends. Be sure to visit them on your next trip to this true paradise, where nature is wild, and the best whiskeys joyfully warm body and soul.


Urquhart Castle

Scottish castles
Scottish castles

This castle is a must when on holiday in Scotland. It is located near one of the most famous lakes in the world: Loch Ness, well-known for being the home of the famed monster, Nessie — whose existence has yet to be demonstrated. Located on a promontory on the shores of the lake, Urquhart Castle offers excellent views, and the ruins are a bastion of breathtaking beauty. The castle is very close to the village of Drumnadrochit, located between the cities of Fort William and Inverness in northern Scotland. It was built in the twelfth century and for several centuries, was one of the largest medieval castles found in Scotland. As a medieval fortress, Urquhart witnessed a considerable amount of conflicts over its 500 years of existence, and from the 1200s to the 1600s the battles were particularly bloody. Following the invasion of King Edward I of England in 1296, it fell into British hands, to be subsequently recovered by the Scots. In 1300, it played a prominent role in the struggle for Scottish independence. A visit to the castles museum and audiovisual display in the new visitor center is an excellent way to learn more of its history. You will find here a unique array of medieval war artifacts. Do not forget to go up to its terrace, where you will enjoy stunning views of Loch Ness.


Eilean Donan Castle

Scottish castles
Scottish castles

Surrounded by majestic scenery, this castle sits on its own island. It is located at the entrance to the island of Skye, at the point where Duich Lake and Alsh Lake meet. It is little wonder that this beautiful castle is now one of the most iconic images of Scotland, as well as one of the most visited attractions in the Scottish highlands. The castle was built in the mid-thirteenth century and belonged to the Mackenzie clan of Kintail. The castle served to protect Robert the Bruce, the Scottish king who gained independence from the British in 1320 after following the steps of William Wallace (Braveheart). Eilean Donan was almost totally destroyed in 1719 after a Jacobite uprising, and lay in ruins for the best part of two centuries until Lt. Col. John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island in 1911and proceeded to restore the castle to its former glory. After twenty years of arduous and costly reconstruction, the castle was reopened in 1932. It has appeared in films like Highlander (1986), Rob Roy (1995), Loch Ness (1996) and The World Is Not Enough (1999) as well as in various commercials and advertisements. Today you can explore nearly every corner of the Eilean Donan Castle and enjoy a journey through history. The castle boasts a visitor center that includes a cafeteria and gift shop. It is certainly a place exuding both in history and romance. ■


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