If you are a Disney fan, you might know that the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella Castle was the Scottish fortified country house, Craigievar Castle.
The fairy-tale castle is built with the Scottish Baronial style, and its owners have spent most of their life enhancing the beauty of this enchanting building.
In this post, we have highlighted the history and the folklore of this lovely place.
Craigievar Castle: A Historical Overview
Craigievar Castle, nestled in the rolling hills of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, stands as a quintessential example of Scottish Baronial architecture. Built by the rich merchant William Forbes, affectionately known as “Danzig Willie,” the construction of the castle was completed in 1626.
The structure is renowned for its distinctive pink color, achieved by the use of a special harling. Over the centuries, the castle has stood relatively unaltered, preserved in its original form, devoid of electricity and other modern interventions.
The Forbes family resided in the castle for 350 years until 1963 when it was bequeathed to the National Trust for Scotland. The castle’s seven floors are filled with historic artifacts, family portraits, and decorative plaster ceilings that capture the essence of its storied past.
Visitors interested in architecture admire the castle’s iconic tower and turrets, which are said to have inspired Walt Disney’s design of the classic fairytale castles.
- March to May: Weekends only
- June to September: Daily, except Tuesdays
|Group Rates (10+)
Note: Last entry is one hour before closing.
To maintain the integrity of the castle’s interior, visitor numbers are limited, and it is advisable to book tickets in advance. Photography is not permitted inside the castle to protect the artifacts and the privacy of the property.
Accessibility to upper floors is limited due to the historical nature of the spiral staircases. However, the enchanting grounds of the castle are freely accessible to all, providing a glimpse into the grandeur of Scotland’s heritage.
Architecture and Design Features of Craigievar Castle
Craigievar Castle stands as a quintessential example of Scottish Baronial architecture. It boasts a seven-story tower house with an enthralling array of turrets, gargoyles, and corbels. The harled (lime-washed) walls are painted a distinctive pink hue, which has become synonymous with the castle’s storybook appearance.
The castle’s structure is exceptionally well-preserved, offering insights into 17th-century design. Originally completed in 1626, Craigievar Castle’s design is attributed to the master mason Thomas Leiper. The Great Tower, an iconic feature, is void of corner turrets, which are common in many Scottish castles, accentuating its unique silhouette against the skyline.
The layout of Craigievar is typified by its zigzagging floor plan, which includes:
- A series of interconnected rooms
- Narrow, spiral staircases
- Authentic Jacobean woodwork
- Intricate plaster ceilings
Notably, the property’s ornamentation is a sight to behold:
- Stone carvings feature throughout
- Stylized heraldry embellishes doorways and walls
- Fine period furniture provides a glimpse into the past
Visitors will find the interior just as striking, where the artistry extends to the collection of historic artifacts and artworks. These embellishments symbolize the castle’s grandeur and historical significance.
The grounds surrounding Craigievar include:
- A walled garden
- Woodland walks
- The traditional castle estate layout
To maintain the authenticity of the experience, no artificial light illuminates the upper floors; instead, these areas rely on natural light, as they would have in the past, offering a truly atmospheric visit.
Practical Information for Visitors
Due to a major conservation project, the castle, shop, kiosk, toilets and the area immediately adjacent to the castle are closed until late spring 2024. The follow applies once this work has been completed.
Visitors to Craigievar Castle should take note of the specific opening times, the admission process, the best way to reach the castle, and the touring options available.
Where Is Craigievar Castle?
The Castle is situated 6 miles south of Alford, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
Opening Hours and Admission
Craigievar Castle operates with seasonal opening hours, typically from April to September. Visitors are encouraged to check the official National Trust for Scotland website for the most up-to-date information. Admission prices vary, with discounts for children, families, and National Trust for Scotland members. Advance booking may be required, especially during peak seasons.
How to Reach Craigievar Castle
The castle is located in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, approximately 26 miles from Aberdeen. Getting there by car is the most convenient option:
- From Aberdeen: Take the A944, then the B9119 until you reach the castle.
- Parking: Available onsite free of charge.
Public transport options are limited, so checking current bus services or considering a taxi from the nearest town is advisable.
Touring the Castle
Touring the castle provides a glimpse into Scotland’s past through expertly guided tours. Audio guides may also be available for those who prefer a self-guided experience. Photography is not permitted inside the castle to preserve the integrity of the artifacts and interior. Remember to wear comfortable shoes as there will be a fair amount of walking on uneven surfaces.
Cultural Significance and Public Events
Craigievar Castle holds a cherished spot in Scotland’s cultural tapestry. Its distinctive pink-hued walls, turrets, and gargoyles have inspired tales and artists alike, embodying a quintessential Scottish baronial style.
- The castle is often believed to have influenced Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle.
- Featured in literature and folklore, it is a symbol of Scottish heritage.
Current Events: Visitors can enjoy a variety of seasonal events at Craigievar:
- Spring: Traditional music sessions and art exhibitions.
- Summer: Highland games, outdoor theatre performances, and educational workshops.
- Autumn: Ghost tours and storytelling events highlighting local legends.
- Winter: Festive celebrations and a charming Christmas market.
Access and Participation:
- Tours: Offered from April to September; limited availability in winter.
- Private Events: The castle can be booked for weddings and private events.
- Education: School groups are regularly hosted for historical and cultural lessons.
|Thu – Mon
|10:00 – 16:00
|09:30 – 17:30
|Thu – Mon
|10:00 – 16:00
|Sat – Sun
|11:00 – 15:00
Tickets can be purchased at the site or through the official website, with discounts available for members of the National Trust for Scotland.
Preservation Efforts and Future Plans
Craigievar Castle, a splendid example of Scottish Baronial architecture, has been under the careful guardianship of the National Trust for Scotland since 1963. The Trust ensures ongoing maintenance and restoration work to preserve the castle’s authenticity and historical integrity.
- Maintenance: Regular inspections and repairs keep the property in good condition.
- Conservation: Sensitive conservation practices are followed to maintain the castle’s unique features.
They have undertaken projects that range from roof repairs to stonework conservation, all aimed at preventing deterioration. In addition, internal conservation efforts focus on the preservation of antique furnishings and artworks that grace the castle’s many rooms.
Future plans include:
- Improving visitor facilities to enhance the overall experience while ensuring that the castle’s character remains unspoiled.
- Utilizing sustainable technologies to reduce the castle’s ecological footprint.
- Developing educational programs to inform visitors about the castle’s history and the importance of preservation.
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