When it comes to visiting the soaring towers and stone walls of picturesque castles, you might think you need to take a trip to Europe to see these magnificent structures, but before you book your flight you should take a look at these amazing American castles.
The only royal palace in the United States, Iolani was built for King Kalakua and Queen Kapi'olani from 1879 to 1882. This status symbol was the picture of luxury in Honolulu, elaborately decorated with Koa wood and ebony furniture and outfitted with a throne room, grand hall and private suites. The royal lineage was short-lived, though, and the Queen was imprisoned in one of the rooms upstairs following the 1895 coup. To this day the palace still stands, though most of the furniture was sold off following the coup. Travelers can visit and tour this incredible piece of Hawaiian history from Monday to Saturday.
Built in the early 1900s at the request of millionaire hotel mogul George C. Boldt, the castle was meant to be a summer home and a gift for his beloved wife. After spending $2 million and hiring 300 of the most talented men to construct the castle, Boldt’s wife Louise died suddenly in 1904 and he immediately stopped construction on the nearly-finished castle. Boldt was inconsolable over her death and never resumed construction. It sat vacant for 73 years, vulnerable to the elements, until the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority (TIBA) invested millions to return the castle and grounds to its former glory. Now, visitors can tour the castle and weddings are regularly held on the grounds.
This steel-and-stone Victorian built in 1892 is famous for more than simply surviving the Great Storm of 1900, but its survival certainly helps. The castle originally owned by railroad mogul Walther Gresham and later home to a Catholic bishop has been named one of the 100 most important buildings in America by the American Institute of Architects. Outfitted with a grand mahogany staircase, marble columns and stained glass, the castle is open to visitors. Be sure to take a look at the fireplaces from around the world and the bronze dragon sculptures around the property.
A Neptune pool, a zoo, a private airstrip and 127 acres of garden sit outside of this incredible California castle—and that’s just the beginning. Constructed for William Randolph Hearst in 1919, the 115-room castle was being constantly updated until his death. The artwork within its walls was reflected in the architecture, which was a fusion of Mediterranean, Greek, Egyptian, Roman and Gothic styles. Travelers can visit today to see the elaborate estate.
This stone castle set on a bluff overlooking the Connecticut River may look classic and traditional from the outside, but the interior is an entirely different story. Ordered and partially designed by William Hooker Gillette, the off-beat actor who played Sherlock Holmes onstage, the 24-room castle’s interior is riddled with strange features. In addition to original doorknobs and locks, Gillette had hidden surveillance mirrors installed throughout the castle, as well as roughly 60 images that pay tribute to his 17 cats.
Erected for the scholar, archaeologist and ceramist, Henry C. Mercer in 1912, the Fonthill Castle served as both a home and personal museum for his collection of tiles. The building’s design is a curious mix of Medieval, Gothic and Byzantine architectural styles and the 44-room castle-museum-hybrid is still open to the public today.
This Scottish-style castle, set 50 miles north of New York City, was built by Francis Bannerman in 1901. Bannerman made his money by supplying military goods and used the castle as storage for arms and ammunition. After his death in 1918, construction on the castle stopped, and the destruction of the castle began. An explosion, a fire and the elements have all taken a toll on the castle. Though tours are offered now (and you can tour by kayak), the castle and surrounding area are still considered relatively unsafe due to decaying walls and “buried hazards.”
As 12th- and 13th-century Tuscan castles go, Castello di Amorosa is as young as they come. Authentic construction techniques started in 1995, with workers hand-chiseling stone, making nails by hand and hand-painting frescoes. The 107-room structure in Napa Valley took 14 years to finish and the end result is a historically accurate 121,000-square-foot castle. Visit to see the imported relics, the exquisite construction and taste the incredible wine.
Set in New York City’s infamous stretch of greenery, Central Park, the Belvedere Castle was originally designed in 1865 for aesthetic appeal. The castle is a beautiful sight and a trip offers stunning views from two balconies, but the castle serves other purposes too. The National Weather Service has used the castle as a weather tower since 1919 and there is also a nature observatory inside.
In 1919 this castle set on the Gold Coast of Long Island went for $11 million, no small price then or now, but millionaire Otto Herman Kahn and his family used it only as a vacation home. Down the line, the castle was abandoned in the 70s and fell into major disrepair, but after a 20-year restoration, it’s now a high-end hotel. OHEKA (an acronym of the original owner’s name) is the second largest private estate in the country and you simply need to visit to believe its luxury.