The United States of America cannot lay claim to ancient castles from the Middle Ages or from the medieval times, since the country was colonized by European civilizations only in in the 1600s. However, a number of castles were built by the English, French and the Scot immigrants after the country was colonized. The USA is, surprisingly, home to several lovely old palaces, castles and chateaus. We’ve curated 10 of the USA’s most enchanting castles for you. Check them out soon!
Lyndhurst Mansion, New York
The Lyndhurst Mansion is one of the one of the finest Gothic Revival mansions in the US built by the acclaimed architect Alexander Jackson Davis in 1838. The castle is located on the edge of the Hudson River in Tarrytown, New York. Several notables have stayed here since it was built, such as New York City mayor William Paulding and railroad tycoon Jay Gould.
Castello di Amorosa, Calistoga, California
This 13th-century Tuscan castle took 14 years to build. There’s a very authentic drawbridge, moat and dungeon with, believe it or not, a still functioning Renaissance-era iron maiden. The bricks are from the Hapsburg-era, the nails are hand-forged, and the chandeliers and 500-year-old fireplace are all Europe imports. There are hand-painted frescoes in the Knights’ Chamber and the Great Hall, which have been constructed out of 8,000 tons of hand-chiseled Napa Valley stone. The Castello di Amorosa is one of the top USA attractions, one of the top castles to visit.
Fonthill Castle, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Fonthill Castle was built in 1912 by Henry Chapman Mercer who was an archaeologist, anthropologist, scholar, antiquarian and ceramist. The castle features 32 stairwells, 21 chimneys, 18 fireplaces, 44 rooms, all made of hand-mixed reinforced concrete in Gothic, Byzantine and medieval styles. Even during his lifetime, the castle was the personal museum for thousands of handcrafted Spanish, Chinese, Dutch ceramic tiles (including Mercer’s own Moravian-style tiles). There’s a Mercer Museum next door which displays a number of artifacts from the original castle, including a whale boat and a Conestoga wagon. This castle is one of the top places to visit in the USA.
Bannerman Castle, Pollepel Island, New York
Bannerman Castle sits on Pollepel, a rocky island on the Hudson River. It was built by a Scottish immigrant called Frank Bannerman in 1901. At age 14, Bannerman started prospering by selling surplus military goods. The family decided to build a castle to use as an arsenal on the island. By 1918, when Bannerman died, construction halted. The castle was partly destroyed when 200 pounds of shells and powder exploded after two years. In 1989, a fire left the castle in ruins. You can visit this castle when the river is boat-friendly.
Hammond Castle, Gloucester, Massachusetts
John Hays Hammond, Jr., American inventor, had a large collection of art – Roman, medieval and Renaissance. He built this castle on the shores of the Atlantic in 1929 to serve as his residence plus art museum. The castle combines the structural sensibilities of castles styles from the 15th to the 18th-century. The great hall is surrounded by elaborate rose windows; there are plenty of secret passageways, plus an indoor courtyard, a pipe organ, and huge library.
Hearst Castle, California
The Hearst Castle Estate was constructed between 1919 and 1947 by William Randolph Hearst. Casually nicknamed as ‘La Cuesta Encantada’ or the Enchanted Hill by Hearst, the castle comprises of four buildings. These buildings comprise of 127 acres of beautiful terraced gardens plus 165 rooms. The Gothic Study in the main building has a vaulted Spanish ceiling that dates back to the early 1400s. There’s also a gorgeous guesthouse named Casa del Mar that boasts of panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.
Biltmore Estate, North Carolina
The Biltmore Estate is nestled cozily in the panoramic Blue Ridge Mountains outside Asheville, North Carolina. George Vanderbilt became enchanted by the area’s beauty and got architect Richard Morris Hunt to design the French Renaissance chateau with a 70-foot ceiling banquet hall, bowling alley and 250 rooms. It took six long years to build the Biltmore Estate. Famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted designed the beautiful grounds including the splendid 15-acre Azalea Garden. The estate produces award-winning wines today; tours are available.
The Breakers, Rhode Island
The Breakers has been designed by George Vanderbilt and executed by architect Richard Morris Hunt. It is one of the area’s most adorable late 19th century summer homes. The Italian Renaissance-inspired 70-room mansion includes a grand dining room with gilded cornice and several freestanding columns. Beautiful relief sculptures designed by Parisian interior design firm Jules Allard and Sons add beauty to the walls.
Bishop’s Palace, Texas
The Bishop’s Palace was built in the late 19th century as the residence of entrepreneur Colonel Walter Gresham. It is one of America’s most significant structures. It was designed by well-known architect Nicholas Clayton who built the spectacular sturdy mansion using steel and stone. The interior is opulent with stained glass windows, dramatic mahogany stairwell, and wood carvings. The mansion even endured the Great Storm of 1900 that destroyed a great portion of Galveston.
Iolani Palace, Hawaii
Iolani Palace is the official residence of Hawaii’s royal family in downtown Hawaii. It was built in 1882 by King Kalakaua as a way to increase Hawaii’s prestige as a modern nation overseas. In 1893, the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown and it was then that Iolani Palace served as the nation’s capitol building. The palace takes design inspiration from European palaces and is America’s sole example of a mixture of Italian renaissance and native Hawaiian architectural styles, termed ‘American Florentine’. This palace, the only royal castle in America, has been a museum since 1978; it is so beautiful, it’s well worth your US visitor visa!
As you can see, the USA has its share of fabulous castles constructed in various styles. Many of them have been built by entrepreneurs and brilliant architects, emulating the styles of medieval, byzantine, Italian renaissance and French chateau ordinances. Most of these castles are either museums or taken over as official national buildings. You can enjoy exploring the ones that are open for view, except on US holidays; check their viewing schedules online before planning to the trip. Here’s an idea – why not plan a castle-viewing trip to the US to enjoy seeing these amazing castles?
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