Across the globe, castles and palaces are viewed as some of the most beautiful and historic structures in the world; which, as I recently discovered, is certainly the case in Scotland and Ireland. But what makes one a castle and the other a palace? Much like the difference between a house and a home, a lot depends on why it was built, how it is used, and who lives there. In general, castles are built for defense and protection, while palaces are meant to radiate luxury and elegance.
A castle is a fortified structure; a base from which an attack can be planned and carried out. Castles have certain architectural features that only other castles have; like moats, gatehouses, round towers, battlements and exterior slits for archers to fire arrows through. They are built with thick walls, usually of stone and bricks. According to history, castles were first constructed in the ninth century and are found mostly in Europe and the Middle East.
A palace is built to show off wealth and power. It is really nothing more than a beautiful place to live! Constructed with spacious halls and lovely rooms, the purpose of a palace is for the ease, enjoyment and diversion of the people who live inside it, usually royalty or other nobility. Palaces have been around longer than castles and are found all over the world.
Like a house, a castle is meant to provide shelter. Like a home, a palace is meant to provide warmth, comfort and space for a family to live together in harmony and love. With that in mind, I suppose the ultimate goal would be for a castle to feel like a palace; and a house to feel like a home.
Here are some castles that feel like a palace to me:
Inveraray Castle, Scotland
Glamis Castle, Scotland
The following castles, while still beautiful, are not quite as elegant inside:
Kilkenny Castle, Ireland
Blair Castle, Scotland
Blarney Castle in Ireland is a good example of strength and ease of armament:
In Edinburgh, Scotland, a castle sits at the top of a hill ready to defend the palace down at the bottom. Impressive Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline while the Palace of Holyrood House, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland, is the anchor at the other end of the Royal Mile. Attached to the palace are the remains of Holyrood Abbey.
Ruins of Holyrood Abbey:
All photos were taken on a 2017 trip to Scotland and Ireland.