Who needs Europe? America's beautiful castles


When most American travelers think about castles, it is usually with medi Europe, feudal Japan or perhaps HBO’s popular series, "Game of Thrones" in mind. Centuries old stories of knights, kings and courts have been repeated throughout our childhoods, and thus even the most adventurous and savvy among us can be forgiven for thinking that Europe and the “Old World” have a monopoly on these sorts of structures.


However, one need not venture across the Atlantic, to Asia or even to Westeros to visit and explore towers and keeps. In fact, some of the world’s most beautiful castles are located right here in the United States. While no knights ran tourneys in their yards and none ever served to safeguard lords and ladies from the din and clash of battle, America’s modern architectural masterpieces are no less awe inspiring than the others. Be it Central Park or West Virginia, gothic and chateâuesque-style monoliths can be found across the nation.


With no royals or nobility to house or protect, America’s castles serve purposes more suited for the modern age, playing host to corporate events, museums and even wineries. American castles are delightfully out of place, seeming to transport visitors and onlookers back into the past even when these travelers are privy to the knowledge that there is a 7-11 just a few miles down the street. With this sort of pleasant misplacement in mind, we have compiled a list of some of America’s most beautiful and accessible castles, each with its own unique and fascinating history.


The Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, Napa Valley, Calif., is a winery styled to look like a Tuscan castle. Jim Sullivan


The castle's Barrel Room is over 12,000 square feet, with 40 cross-vaults. Jim Sullivan


The bricks in the Barrel Room are hand-made, and contribute to the authenticity of the Tuscan-inspired castle. Peter Menzel


The castle's Great Hall would have been where its rulers met their subjects. Jim Sullivan


But at the Castello di Amorosa, the Great Hall operates as a beautiful setting for wine tastings. Jim Sullivan


Boldt Castle was built on Heart Island in Alexandria Bay, N.Y. by George C. Boldt, proprietor of the Waldorf Astoria. Gary Fischer


The castle is reachable on Heart Island via boat from either the USA or Canada. Gary Fischer


Boldt built his six story, 120 room castle for his wife, Louise, who died before it could be finished. George Fischer


Upon her death, Boldt stopped construction and abandoned the structure, and it stayed so for 73 years. Gary Fischer


In 1977, the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority took over the castle, restoring it for future generations. Gary Fischer


Belvedere Castle was built in 1867 in Central Park by the park's designer, Calvert Vaux. Sarah Cedar Miller and Central Park Conservancy