Balmoral Castle (Balmoral Castle) is the summer residence of the British royal house in Scotland (UK). It is located in Aberdeenshire, in a rather secluded, but very picturesque area in the bend of the stream Dee. Nearby is the tiny village of Crathie, 10 km to the west is the larger town of Ballater.
Ballmoral is the current royal residence of the British royal family. The Queen and her entourage usually visit the castle in August and October. And during this period Buckingham Palace is open to tourists!
Tourists are allowed into the Scottish estate from April 1 to July 31, and sometimes winter tours are organized. You can see the exhibition and the largest room of the castle and the garden. The private apartments of the Queen and her family are closed.
Keep this in mind, and to compensate, plan a visit to, for example, Holyrood Castle. Another Scottish royal residence, located, unlike Balmoral, much more conveniently!
- Ticket prices are (2019): £11.50- for adults, and £6 for children aged 5 to 16, family ticket (up to 4 children) – £32
- Visiting hours are 10-17, affectionately asked not to go inside after 4:30pm
- Official website: www.balmoralcastle.com
Due to the coronavirus epidemic, no visitors are allowed inside the residence (July 2020), only the information center is open.
How to get there
Take the train from Edinburgh to Stonehaven, then the bus, and walk from Crati. Or – from the Scottish capital by bus through Aberdeen, from Crati all the same – on foot. Travel time: about 6-7 hours; from Aberdeen there is a shuttle bus #201.
The only way to get from Edinburgh airport is by cab or by rented car. You can save a lot of time (2.5-3 hours). About how to get to the capital of Scotland, for example, from London – read in our article. And here – about what you can see in Edinburgh in 2-3 days.
Modern Balmoral Castle does not belong to the number of ancient buildings, it was built in the middle of XIX century on the site of an ancient fortification with the same name. The place was chosen personally by English royal couple: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Having traveled extensively in Scotland, but not having their own “corner” here until then.
“On the advice of friends,” they toured the enchanting scenery of Deeside and decided it was the best they had seen so far.
“Here everything seemed to breathe freedom and peace and made one forget the world and its troubles,” wrote Queen Victoria’s diary in September 1848.
One of the criteria of choice was the much drier climate of the east coast compared to that of the west. It is well known that the Edinburgh side of Scotland has a much sunnier climate than Glasgow. And the character of the inhabitants is nicer. That’s why the Rangers and Celtics dominate the soccer championship: the players are always in a bad mood.
Prince Albert finally acquired a residence in Balmoral in 1852. And it is still privately owned, not by the Crown. That’s why you shouldn’t pant and complain about not always being allowed in: “prime life” is paramount here.
The acquired castle was not large enough to meet the needs of the new owners, because it was too small. The new Balmoral was supposed to solve the problem of accommodating the royal couple with children and servants. However, it still did not become one of the largest castles in England, as builders focused primarily on comfort, but not on scale.
Construction, designed by architect William Smith, began in the summer of 1853. On September 28, 1853 Queen Victoria personally laid the foundation stone. It can, by the way, still be seen today.
- Three years later, in 1856, construction of the new royal residence in the north of Great Britain was completed. And in 1857, the final touch was put, connecting the manor to the village of Krati with a stone bridge over the River Dee
The castle was built of Scottish granite and looks indistinguishable from examples of traditional Scottish castle architecture. The 24-meter clock tower is the most memorable part of the building. However, it, like everything else here, has a decorative character. Because the manor was bought to live in the lap of nature, not to save from enemies.
The main part of the structure resembles the home of a wealthy British aristocrat. It’s a perfect example of a private rather than a ceremonial and official royal residence.
- Balmoral is a kind of love song. Not a monarch’s residence in the literal sense, but a summer house, the home of two people breathing perfectly in tune:
“And their souls were given to wander in flowers, Their voices were given to merge in tact, And eternity to breathe in one breath, And meet with a sigh on their lips At fragile crossings and bridges, At narrow crossroads of the universe”
– sang Vladimir Vysotsky. And if you translate these words to the architectural language, the language of the landscape and landscape, we get … right, the Castle and Park Balmoral!
A granite pyramid was erected in the park in memory of Prince Albert, who died in 1961, and then a monument was erected by the Queen. Victoria herself visited here regularly until her death in 1900. In late summer and early fall, when all the migratory birds (and today’s tourists) are drawn south, the queen of the world’s largest empire would head north.
To the places where she loved and was loved, where everything: nature and home, reminded her that there are things in the world whose value does not change with time.
The tradition has not changed today: the British queen visits her estate in Scotland during the same months.
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Balmoral – the summer royal residence!
1. Balmoral Castle, one of the most famous castles in Scotland, is located in the region of Aberdeenshire and is the summer residence of the English royal couple. It is not the oldest, but its age is venerable.
2. The old castle that was purchased was too small for the Windsors. A design was made for a new building.
3. The castle was built in 1852. The main initiator was Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria.
5. Prince Albert was brought up in the atmosphere of German Romanticism at Rosenau Castle. He was an art lover, interested in architecture and technical innovations.
The site of the building was chosen 90 meters from the old castle, so that the royal family could live there while they built new buildings.
6. The castle has an armory, exquisitely decorated with collectible pistols, sabers, revolvers and other weapons.
Around the castle there are delightful gardens, and the most beautiful of them is the unique “garden on the water” – the gardens were first opened to the public in 1931. Not far from the palace even today there is a small garden house, where Queen Victoria, already a widow, liked to have breakfast and write her famous diaries.
7. The rose garden, begun by Prince Albert
The forests surrounding the castle are even more picturesque and beautiful. Many of the forests remained untouched, providing hunting fame not only for the castle, but also for the whole country as a whole. Not far from Balmoral Castle runs the River Dee, where the royals fish. Salmon is found here; high foreign guests and members of other European courts are invited especially for this peaceful occupation. At the end of the day all the fish caught are released as a tribute to tradition.
12. the surroundings of the castle
14. Balmoral Manor covers approximately 20,000 hectares and is maintained by a staff of 50.
18. The modern look of the castle has developed after many alterations. Careful care has preserved everything in its beautiful form – the architecture, the interior, and the wilderness.
19. Currently, the royal family spends each year in Balmoral 8-10 weeks in late summer and autumn. The estate grounds, gardens, and the only part of the castle available to the public, the dance hall, are open to the public from April 1 to July 31. The dance hall hosts exhibitions of paintings, silverware, porcelain, and national Scottish clothing. A collection of royal robes can also be seen here.
24. For the most part, the interior has remained unchanged since Queen Victoria’s time. For example, in this photo you see Elizabeth II and the visiting Prime Minister in her private office at Balmoral Castle.
25. Albert’s statue in the park
26. Queen Victoria
27. Next to the castle is the parish church of Crati, which the royal family visits every Sunday morning during their stay at the Balmoral residence.
29. The carriage with little Elizabeth was lifted up this staircase. 1927, the future queen visited Balmoral for the first time.
32. It is believed that all members of the royal family owe it to themselves to love Balmoral Castle. Charles and Diana spent their honeymoon not somewhere in warm countries, but at Balmoral. Diana has been known to say more than once that “the castle makes her despondent. After she publicly stated that summer in Balmoral is a real ordeal for her because of the silence and boredom, the royal family unanimously decided that the princess is “not real”. In contrast, Prince Andrew’s ex-wife, Sarah Fergusson, loved coming to Balmoral for holidays.
33. The pattern of such a cage (tartan) is called Balmoral (Royal). The author of the design is Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria. As can easily be guessed, the tartan was used to decorate Balmoral Castle.
34. In one of Queen Victoria’s famous diaries, it was written that Balmoral was her ‘dear paradise’ and that once you’ve visited it, you’ll never be able to forget it again, you’ll be drawn there like a magnet.