Historic British Castles in the UK

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If you're flying to the United Kingdom, no trip is complete without visiting the majestic and historic British castles, covering the length and breadth of the land. From ruins, to royal and inhabited castles, you can see them all when you make the UK your next holiday destination. Here is a selection of some of the best British castles to visit.

Perhaps Scotlands most well known castle is Balmoral Castle, built by Prince Albert and still the royal family's holiday home. The grounds and ballroom are open to visitors in the summer.

The north-east of Scotland is where you can view a variety of castles on the 'Castle Trail'. They range from the ruin of 13th century Kildrummy Castle, to the elegance of Haddo House, a Palladian style home, designed by architect William Adam in 1732.

Castle Fraser in Aberdeenshire features an historic walled garden, and is one of the grandest Scottish baronial tower houses.

Stirling Castle guards the entrance to the Scottish Highlands, and is significant historically and architecturally. Sited on steep cliffs for defensive purposes, it has withstood many sieges. Mary, Queen of Scots is among many queens and kings who have been crowned here.

Dunevegan Castle on the Isle of Skye with its treasured fairy flag, which according to legend, has magical powers and will guarantee victory in battle. Restored formal gardens and clan treasures are on display.

Some well known English castles include Lincoln Castle in Glastonbury, which is one of the best preserved castles in England. Here you can find the original copies of the Magna Carta, sealed by King John in 1215.

Chatsworth in Derbyshire, surrounded by expansive parklands, is considered to be one of UK's favourite country houses.

Blenheim Palace, a World Heritage Site, is a supreme example of English Baroque, and birthplace of Winston Churchill. Sited close to Oxford, it is one of England's largest houses.

Windsor Castle in Berkshire is a principal official residence of the British monarchy, and the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world.

St Michael’s Mount- is a castle built on an island peak off the coast of Cornwall. It is named after the angel Michael who appeared at this site in the fifth century. It has been the home to Benedictine monks under Edward the Confessor, and to Saint Keyne of Ireland. The Mount is connected by a land bridge to the mainland, accessible during low tide.

Castles in Wales, (sometimes called the 'castle capital' of the world), are a reminder of the country's lengthy struggle against English domination. Many are around the coast, built by Edward 1 of England to control the rebellious Welsh.

In Northern Wales, Beaumaris Castle is a good example of medieval military architecture. It is built with geometric symmetry and surrounded by a water filled moat.

Also in the north of Wales is Caernarfon Castle-a formidable battlemented building whose massive walls disappear into the Menai Strait. One of the most impressive castles architecturally, it was intended more as a seat of power.

Harlech Castle, another castle in northern Wales, is sometimes called the Castle of Lost Causes because it was taken by the enemy so often. This majestic castle with its unsurpassed natural setting is truly a great example of a great military defensive building.

And also in the north, Conwy Castle rises out of the hills to astound you. Well preserved, this castle was another of Edward I 'iron ring of castles' to subdue the Welsh and is one of the great fortresses of medieval Europe.

Caerphilly Castle in southern Wales, was built in the late 13th century. It's immense size(1.2 h) make it the second largest in Britain. The castles severe presence, strength, lack of windows and decoration, and the use of water for defence, display it's military significance.

Pembroke Castle in the west of Wales is a mighty Norman castle and dominates the landscape from all its approaches.