A 12th Century castle in South East Ireland is one of the most beautiful in the world, according to Architectural Digest.
Kilkenny Castle, originally built in 1195 as a defensive castle, is now open to the public all year round.
The building itself has been restored and remodelled by many different owners over the past eight centuries and sits on a massive 50 acres of stunning parkland.
Its frequent change of hands has only added to the attractive architectural design of the castle, affording it eighth place in the list of top 10 most beautiful castles in the world.
A thing of beauty
Architectural Design (AD) is an international monthly magazine that inspires global designs and celebrates bespoke homes and structures from around the world.
It described Kilkenny Castle as “one of the most fairytale-esque castles in the world.”
The tribute continued, “This castle overlooks the River Nore and was used to guard the important river crossing for more than 900 years.
“Throughout the history of the castle, the site was renovated several times with the changing of owners, making it a mixture of various architectural styles.”
The castle was handed over to the people of Kilkenny by Arthur Butler, Earl of Ormonde in 1967, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that restoration began.
The Picture Gallery wing was first to be refurbished after which the central block was restored to that of a 19th Century country house.
Work ended in 2000 when the Parade Tower was modernised for the 20th century and became a suitable venue for public functions.
The West Wing and Medieval Towers were skillfully incorporated in the new design, giving the castle a unique architectural interest that offers glimpses of different ages spanning 800 years.
A Historic Castle
Kilkenny Castle has had a somewhat colourful history with lots of interesting characters pacing the grand halls over the years.
The original stone castle was built in 1195 by William Marshall, as a stronghold to protect his clan [family] from being invaded via the River Nore.
He was married to the daughter of Richard de Clare, more commonly known as ‘Strongbow’, who led the Norman invasion through Ireland.
The castle was also famously used to imprison Dame Alice Kyteler after she was tried as a witch and sentenced to death by being burnt at the stake in the nearby High Street.
James Butler’s purchase of Kilkenny Castle in the 1390s led to the longest lasting family residence of the estate.
In 1935, after 600 years of the Butler family residence, the castle was abandoned until Arthur Butler sold it to the Castle Restoration and Development Committee for the bargain price of £50.
A major tourist attraction
Visitors to Ireland clearly agree with the AD ranking of Kilkenny Castle in the top 10 most beautiful castles in the world.
The attraction is one of the most popular tourist spots on the Emerald Isle with thousands of nationalities flocking to admire it every year.
Tickets for the country house are sold daily while families stroll around the beautiful castle grounds.
There are orienteering trails, a terraced rose garden and a gorgeous lake to enjoy, while wildlife enthusiasts are in their element in the mature woodlands.
The children’s playground and quaint tearoom set the perfect scene for a great day out.
Inside the castle, there are National Art Gallery pieces to ponder while some of the original family art collections and tapestries are on display.
The interior design takes visitors on a journey through the extravagance of earlier years to the arrival of Oriental influence in the 19th Century presented in the Chinese bedroom.
Events are regularly hosted in the Parade Tower or on the grounds during warmer months.
Kilkenny Castle is by far one of Ireland’s true gems and worthy of a place in the topmost “fairytale-esque” places in the world.
Flanked by Bojnice Castle in Slovakia at number nine and Prague Castle in the Czech Republic in seventh place, Kilkenny Castle joins many other places of architectural beauty.
These include Windsor Castle in London, England coming in second and the Palace of Versaille in France being suitably ranked number one.
Ireland is home to many castles worthy of high regard and admiration with Kilkenny Castle just one of the many reasons the Emerald Isle is our fairytale ending.