Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle is one the most picturesque castles of Scotland in United Kingdom. Eilean Donan means “Island of Donan” which is a small tidal island at the meeting point of the three lakes which are Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh. The castle is built on this small island overlooking the three lakes in the western highlands of Scotland. The castle is so beautiful and unique that it has become an ideal spot for movie shootings, fashion shows, wedding shoots and photography. Other than photographs, the place is highly tranquil with spectacular scenery. It is a wonderful place to visit if you are in Scotland.
The castle has a visitor center, coffee shop and a nice gift shop to entertain its visitors. The castle is a superb spot to enjoy the wonderful panoramic views of the three lakes with a background of eastern-most tip of the Isle of Skye. The visitors love the structure of the castle, the viewpoints and the atmosphere. They also love to explore the maze of rooms spread across the castle. The castle also exhibits a wide range of interesting historical artifacts. The castle and the small island around it are part of the Kintail National Scenic Area. There is a small village called Dornie near the castle.
Where to stay near Eilean Donan Castle
While most of the visitors plan a day-tour of the castle, if you are among the ones who have fallen in love with this lovely place or plan to spend some time at the tranquil small island, there is a Eilean Donan Cottage very close by the castle. The bookings must be made in advance as the cottage has limited capacity. The reason I like this cottage is that you can see the castle, lake, water ponds and views of mountains right from your windows sitting in a cozy nice environment. If you have made a booking, then key can be collected from the visitor center of the castle on your day of arrival.
There are more self-catering apartments near the castle, you can also check them out for staying options.
History of Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan means “Island of Donnan”, which is named after a 6th century Celtic Saint who was martyred in 617. It is said that Donnan established a small church on the island, but archeologists could not find traces of the church remains.
The Eilean Donan Castle was built in the 13th century to protect the land from the Vikings. It became a stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and their allies as it provided the perfect defense position at the merging point of the three lakes. In 1719, the English government found about 46 Spanish soldiers who were supporting the Jacobites rebellions uprising from the castle and were waiting for the delivery of weapons and canons from Spain. The government sent the heavily armed ships to attack and capture the castle. After the castle was captured, the troops discovered 343 barrels of gunpowder that was stored by the Spanish soldiers to help the uprising. The same gunpowder was used to blow up the castle that turned it into ruins.
In 20th century, lieutenant-Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap bought the island and reconstructed the castle back from its ruins. The restoration work took him 20 years to build the exact same model from the ground plans that survived.
5 Tourist Attractions at the Eilean Donan Castle
First of all, it is hard to believe that this castle has been restored from the ruins. The impressive restoration work does need a praise. The rooms are like a maze where you travel back into time and learn about the history of the area and the castle. You can freely roam around in the castle as you like and can finish your tour within 2 to 3 hours. If you have more time, you can enjoy hiking and trekking in the Eilean Donan Island. The area has several beautiful picturesque spots from where you can have fabulous views of the lakes and the castle standing out.
Three Lochs Meeting Point
The best thing about the castle that makes it very unique is its location and placement over the meeting point of the three wonderful lakes. As you step outside you will be fascinated by the panoramic views of these lakes which merge into each other in front of you. The best time to be here is during sunset when the sky changes color and the reflection from the lakes create a spectacular environment. This is the main reason why I mentioned about staying at the island. It is something, you will remember forever especially if you will enjoy the sunrise as well.
The castle has become a unique point for wedding celebrations. The ambience is so romantic that couples choose this place for their wedding vows. You might be able to see an on-going wedding photoshoot in the vicinity of the castle. You will see many other photographers and artists roaming around and absorbing the splendid scenery as their inspiration.
Visitors Center at Eilean Donan Castle
The visitor center in the castle is there to help you out with all kind of information and to entertain you with a restaurant inside it. There is also a small gift shop with souvenirs in this center. The visitor center closes at 6pm in the evening.
Dornie Village near Eilean Donan Castle
This lovely little village is located very near to the Eilean Donan castle at the shore of the meeting points of the three lakes. It used to be a fishing village which is now turned into a superb base for the tourists who want to explore the areas of Eilean Donan, Applecross, Isle of Skye and Loch Ness. The main road to skye passes near the village. The village also has a nice place for food, a small shop and a few bars for the visitors who are staying in the area.
Saint Duthac’s Catholic Church
There is a Saint Duthac’s Catholic church in the village that was built in 1860. The Gothic style church has been renovated with polished granite shafts. A demi-octagonal stone pulpit is used in the renovation which is a unique style of this church.