Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most well-known castles in Scotland as many movies have featured it and it receives thousands of visitors a year. Located on a small island in Loch Duich, the castle stands up against an amazing backdrop of water and mountains.
People have inhabited the island since the 6th century, but it was not till the 13th century that it became fortified. It served as the home of the MacRae Clan and has been rebuilt four times because of damages sustained in battles throughout the years.
When you cross the arched bridge from the mainland to the island castle, it feels as if you’re stepping back in time. Dark-colored rocks of various shapes and sizes make up the exterior of the building. This gives the castle a cold and indestructible appearance, especially when the weather is gloomy. It certainly paints a picture of kilt-clad men wielding broadswords and slinging arrows at any enemy who dares cross the shallow water.
MacRae Clan memorabilia adorn the castle’s interior and thoroughly completes your journey back to the Middle Ages. From thick, richly colored rugs and antique wooden furnishings to framed portraits of MacRae ancestors, the castle straddles the line between reality and a stage set.
The castle is held by a trust set up by the MacRaes to make sure future maintenance and upkeep continues. I cannot imagine a castle being part of a family’s list of properties, but I suppose this is possible with such a long and prosperous history behind them.
The entire experience was somewhat surreal as I felt like I was in a King Arthur fairy tale. Despite my visits to Nijō Castle and Osaka Castle in Japan, Eilean Donan Castle finally fulfills my every imagining of what a castle should be. I guess it pays to have so many Hollywood movies depicting the Western version of a castle instead of the Eastern version, but the Eilean Donan is definitely worth the visit if you want to see a functional piece of history.