Culzean Castle is one of Scotland’s most important castles and is perched atop a cliff on the breathtaking west coast. It was planned by Robert Adam in the late 1800s and is bordered by beautiful woods, beaches and gardens with abundant animals. The exquisite rooms are filled with artifacts that tell the story of those who once called this home.
The oval staircase, Adam’s masterpiece, connects the three floors of the castle. It was built for David Kennedy, 10th Earl of Cassillis, a descendant of Scotland’s oldest family, the Kennedys.
The History of Culzean Castle
The castle was built in the late 1800s to show off the wealth and power of David Kennedy, 10th Earl of Cassilis. He had acquired the rank of his brother, who had died leaving no male heir. Aside from a lot of money, the 10th Earl has excellent taste. He commissioned Robert Adam, the most prominent neoclassical architect and interior designer of the 18th century, to build his house.
Culzean is simply a castle in name. It’s not really a fortress or fortified house, but one of the most opulent estates in Scotland. Its most famous historical highlight came after the Kennedy family abandoned it in the 20th century.
The top floor bedroom was given to President Eisenhower for his lifetime in recognition of his contribution during World War II, and Culzean has a close connection to him. Visitors can now stay in the beautiful Eisenhower Apartment.
Explore the grandeur of the castle
This foyer served as a reception area for visitors to the Kennedy residence. Every shiny metal object on the wall is an arsenal of some sort, from cannons to blades, including the world’s largest display of used flintlock handguns.
The Kennedys wanted their property to represent their position as one of Scotland’s most prestigious families. And an exhibition of over 1,000 weapons to welcome their visitors served the purpose perfectly.
The dining room
The dining room was designed in 1877 by Archibald Kennedy when he was looking for a place where he could entertain his family and friends. This bedroom was built by designers Wardrop and Reid by combining a library and a dressing room. The approach saved many pieces of library furniture.
The ceiling is a replica of the Robert Adam ceiling from a London house. The old friezes of the library have been preserved, which were carved with ox skulls. The cornice above the door has vines to symbolize the new use of the room as a dining room.
The oval staircase
Robert Adam revised and improved many plans until he arrived at a design that majestically showcased the Kennedys’ wealth. The oval staircase was installed on the main structure six years after the construction of the castle. Guests would ascend this stairwell from the dining room, ready to dance or play card games upstairs. With its marble pillars and massive oil paintings, the staircase is a Robert Adam masterpiece.
The round room
This space was created to be a gathering place where guests can mingle and be entertained. Culzean Castle sits atop a high cliff, originally built to help defend the castle against invasion. However, during the renovations, Adam wanted a room that would take advantage of the beautiful ocean views.
Straight furniture and picture frames don’t look good against curved walls, and to compensate for this, Adam designed one of his most dramatic ceilings, complete with a rug. Visitors can see a contemporary replica of the original carpet in this room.
Another unique feature of the room is that if visitors speak loudly in the middle of the room, they will only hear an echo in their ears.
The Culzean Kitchen represents the castle’s function as a gathering place for visitors. Like many other kitchens of the time, it was separated from the main building to reduce the risk of fire. However, now the kitchen is linked to the main castle. While the culinary amenities at noble estates like Culzean typically contained state-of-the-art technology enabling staff to prepare the finest quality meals to dazzle visitors, the kitchens were primarily the domain of servants.
Large dinner parties required the use of many stoves in the kitchen. Stoves work similar to a charcoal grill with open fires fueled by charcoal from the ground. The Kennedys’ dinner selections included exotic dishes to impress their visitors.
The exotic gardens
Wooded walkways, colorful tiered gardens, intriguing follies and enticing beach bays are all part of the 600-acre Culzean Castle estate. There is no more breathtaking setting than this.
The Pleasure Garden, which has wide herbaceous borders, and the refurbished Victorian Vinery and Peach Cottage, are part of the Victorian Walled Garden. The Fountain Court Lawn, which includes the Orangery, the Herb Garden and the Wildlife Yard, is worth a visit.
Culzean Castle Tour
- Nearest station – Maybole Station
- Visitors can take a taxi which takes about 15 minutes to reach the castle.
- Nearest bus stop – Glenside bus stop
- It is a 10 minute walk from the bus stop to the castle.
- Adults – $24
- The elderly – $18
- Family Tickets – $60
Culzean Castle is a magnificent estate where tourists can admire Georgian interiors accompanied by outstanding architectural marvels. It’s a great example of what wealth can accomplish. Culzean Castle is a must-see destination for travelers to Ayrshire.
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