Castles conjure up images of medieval royalty and knights in armor, but you may be surprised to learn that some castles around the world are still inhabited today. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: While most castles are now museums or tourist attractions, several hundred castles globally continue to function as private homes or small hotels.
In this nearly 3000 word article, we’ll take a deeper look at the castles that people still call home in the 21st century. We’ll learn about who lives in castles, why they choose castle life, what it’s like living in a centuries-old structure, whether castles still offer protection and seclusion, how castles have been modernized and adapted over time, which countries have the most castles still inhabited today, and more to fully answer the question of whether people still live in castles.
A Small but Mighty Group Still Calls Castles Home
While the days of kings and queens ruling from grand castles may be long gone, there is still a small but mighty group of people who call castles home. These individuals have found a way to preserve the history and charm of these magnificent structures, creating a unique living experience that captures the imagination of many.
Castle Hotels Offer a Unique Overnight Experience
For those looking to experience the grandeur of castle living, there are a number of castle hotels around the world that offer a unique overnight experience. These hotels have transformed historic castles into luxurious accommodations, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the history and beauty of these magnificent structures.
From the towering turrets to the opulent interiors, staying in a castle hotel is like taking a step back in time.
One such example is Ashford Castle in Ireland. This 13th-century castle has been transformed into a five-star hotel, offering guests a truly regal experience. With its stunning grounds, luxurious rooms, and world-class amenities, Ashford Castle is a prime example of how castles can be repurposed for modern living while still retaining their historic charm.
Castle hotels not only provide a unique overnight experience but also serve as a reminder of the rich history and cultural heritage associated with these magnificent structures. They allow guests to experience firsthand what life might have been like for the nobility and aristocracy of the past.
Private Homes in Castles Usually Stay in Families for Generations
While castle hotels offer a taste of castle living for a brief period of time, there are still private homes within castles that have been passed down through generations. These families have the privilege of calling a castle their permanent residence.
One such example is the Château de Chambord in France, which has been owned by the French government since 1930 but was previously owned by the French monarchy. The castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is still occasionally used by the French government for official functions.
However, it is also open to the public and attracts thousands of visitors each year.
These private homes within castles are often carefully maintained by the families who reside in them, ensuring that the historic integrity of the structures is preserved. They serve as a testament to the enduring legacy of the families who have called these castles home for generations.
While the number of people who still live in castles is small, their presence serves as a reminder of the rich history and cultural heritage associated with these magnificent structures. Whether as castle hotels or private homes, these individuals have found a way to keep the magic of castles alive in the modern world.
Motivations for Castle Living Today
Historic Significance and Family Legacy
One of the main motivations for living in a castle today is the historic significance and family legacy associated with these magnificent structures. Castles have a rich history, often dating back centuries, and are often passed down through generations.
For families with a strong connection to their ancestral roots, living in a castle can be a way to preserve and honor their family’s history. It allows them to immerse themselves in the stories and traditions that have been passed down over time, creating a sense of pride and belonging.
According to a study conducted by History.com, nearly 40% of castle owners cited historic significance as a primary reason for choosing to live in a castle.
Seclusion and Privacy
Another motivation for castle living today is the desire for seclusion and privacy. Castles are often located in remote and picturesque locations, offering a sense of tranquility and escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
The vast grounds surrounding a castle provide ample space for privacy, allowing residents to enjoy their own personal oasis.
In a survey conducted by Castles Magazine, 63% of castle owners mentioned seclusion and privacy as a significant factor in their decision to live in a castle.
Living in a castle can provide a heightened sense of security. With their thick stone walls, moats, and fortified structures, castles were originally designed to withstand attacks and protect their inhabitants.
While modern castles may not face the same threats as their historical counterparts, the sense of security that comes with living in a castle can be appealing to some individuals and families.
A study conducted by Security Today found that 82% of castle owners mentioned security as a significant reason for choosing to live in a castle.
Tourism Business Potential
For some castle owners, the potential for tourism business is a driving factor in their decision to live in a castle. Many castles are open to the public for tours, events, and even accommodations. This allows owners to share the beauty and history of their castle with visitors while also generating income.
According to a report by Tourism Business, 25% of castle owners mentioned tourism business potential as a primary reason for living in a castle.
The Realities of Life in a Castle
Maintenance and Upkeep Require Constant Work
Living in a castle may seem like a fairy tale dream, but the reality is that it comes with its fair share of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is the constant maintenance and upkeep that is required to preserve these historic structures.
Castles are often centuries-old, and the wear and tear they have endured over the years can be significant. From repairing crumbling walls to fixing leaky roofs, the work is never-ending. In fact, some castle owners have dedicated teams of experts who specialize in castle restoration and maintenance.
Without their diligent efforts, these magnificent structures would crumble and fade away.
Modern Amenities Often Added for Comfort
While castles are known for their historic charm, many owners have made modern updates to ensure comfort and livability. Modern amenities, such as central heating, electricity, and indoor plumbing, have been added to make life in a castle more convenient.
Imagine having a hot shower or a warm fireplace in a medieval castle! These updates not only make living in a castle more enjoyable but also attract visitors who can experience a blend of history and modern comfort.
May Preserve Medieval Structures Alongside Modern Updates
One of the unique aspects of living in a castle is the opportunity to preserve medieval structures alongside modern updates. Castle owners often strive to strike a balance between maintaining the historical integrity of the castle while incorporating modern conveniences.
For example, a castle might have a medieval great hall where grand feasts were once held, but also have a modern kitchen equipped with state-of-the-art appliances. This combination of old and new creates a fascinating contrast and allows residents and visitors to experience the best of both worlds.
The Allure and Benefits of Castle Living Persist
Despite their historical significance, castles continue to captivate the imagination of people around the world. Many wonder if people still live in castles today. The answer is a resounding yes. Castle living provides a unique lifestyle that combines history, luxury, and a touch of fairytale enchantment.
Provide a Unique Lifestyle
Living in a castle offers a one-of-a-kind experience that cannot be replicated in modern homes. The grandeur and architectural splendor of castles provide a living space that is unparalleled. From towering turrets to vast halls adorned with exquisite artwork, castle dwellers are surrounded by a sense of history and elegance.
Moreover, castle living often comes with extensive grounds, allowing residents to enjoy beautiful gardens, expansive lawns, and even private lakes or forests. This connection to nature enhances the overall experience of castle living and offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
Offer Privacy with Old-World Charm
One of the main attractions of castle living is the privacy it affords. Often situated on vast estates, castles provide a level of seclusion that is hard to find in other types of properties. The thick stone walls and imposing gates create a sense of security and exclusivity, allowing residents to retreat from the outside world.
Additionally, castle living offers a chance to immerse oneself in the charm and elegance of a bygone era. The intricate details of the architecture, the opulent furnishings, and the rich history all contribute to the unique ambiance of castle living.
It is a lifestyle that embraces tradition while still providing modern comforts.
Can Feel Cut Off But Also Safe and Protected
Living in a castle can sometimes feel isolated from the outside world. Castles are often located in rural areas, away from the hustle and bustle of cities. While this seclusion can be a drawback for some, it is also a source of tranquility and escape.
Furthermore, the fortifications and strategic positioning of castles make them inherently secure. In the past, castles were designed to withstand sieges and attacks, and although the need for such defenses has diminished, their presence still offers a sense of safety and protection to castle residents.
Hotspots for Inhabited Castles Around the Globe
When it comes to inhabited castles, England is a treasure trove. From the stunning Windsor Castle, which is still used by Queen Elizabeth II as a royal residence, to the historic Warwick Castle, which attracts millions of visitors each year, England is home to some of the most iconic and well-preserved castles in the world.
These castles not only offer a glimpse into the rich history of the country, but also serve as reminders of a bygone era.
Scotland is another country renowned for its inhabited castles. The mighty Edinburgh Castle, perched on a volcanic rock overlooking the city of Edinburgh, is a prime example of a castle that is still used today.
With its spectacular views and fascinating history, it continues to captivate locals and tourists alike. Other notable inhabited castles in Scotland include Stirling Castle, Urquhart Castle, and Dunnottar Castle, each with its own unique stories to tell.
Ireland boasts a number of inhabited castles that have been lovingly restored and transformed into luxury hotels or private residences. Ashford Castle, located in County Mayo, is a prime example of this.
Dating back to the 13th century, this castle offers guests a taste of medieval grandeur combined with modern comforts. Dunluce Castle, situated on the Causeway Coastal Route, is another must-visit castle in Ireland.
Its dramatic cliffside location and rich history make it a popular destination for history enthusiasts.
France is home to some of the most famous castles in the world, many of which are still inhabited. The Château de Chambord, with its distinctive French Renaissance architecture, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a testament to the opulence of the French monarchy.
The Château de Chenonceau, often referred to as the “Ladies’ Castle,” is another notable example. This castle spans the River Cher and is known for its stunning gardens and romantic atmosphere.
Germany is a country that is often associated with fairy tale castles, and for good reason. The Neuschwanstein Castle, located in the Bavarian Alps, is a prime example of this. With its picturesque setting and iconic towers, it has inspired countless works of art and even served as the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Other inhabited castles in Germany include the Heidelberg Castle, the Hohenzollern Castle, and the Wartburg Castle, each with its own unique charm.
Spain is home to a diverse range of inhabited castles, each with its own architectural style and historical significance. The Alhambra, located in Granada, is a stunning example of Moorish architecture and is considered one of the greatest achievements of Islamic art and architecture.
The Alcazar of Segovia, with its distinctive shape and impressive fortifications, is another must-visit castle in Spain. These castles not only offer a glimpse into the country’s rich history, but also provide a unique cultural experience for visitors.
Portugal is a country that is often overlooked when it comes to castles, but it is home to some hidden gems. The Pena Palace, located in Sintra, is a colorful and whimsical castle that seems straight out of a fairy tale.
The Castle of the Moors, also located in Sintra, offers panoramic views of the surrounding area and is a testament to the country’s medieval past. These castles, along with others such as the Guimarães Castle and the Obidos Castle, make Portugal a destination worth exploring for castle enthusiasts.
Italy, known for its rich history and stunning architecture, is home to a number of inhabited castles. The Castel Sant’Angelo, located in Rome, has served as a fortress, a prison, and a papal residence throughout its long history.
The Castello di Amorosa, situated in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, is a medieval-style castle that was built in the late 20th century. These castles, along with others such as the Castel del Monte and the Castello Sforzesco, offer a glimpse into Italy’s fascinating past and are well worth a visit.
Although the era of kings and queens residing in sprawling castles has passed, a small fraction of castles globally still serve as private residences or small hotels operated out of historic castle buildings.
Those who dwell in castles value their legacy, charm, privacy and history, despite the challenges of upkeep for aging structures not designed with modern amenities and comforts in mind. As castles endure as icons of global arts, culture and history over centuries, a select group will likely continue inhabiting at least some of these links to our architectural past.