A 16th-century pink castle said to have inspired Walt Disney has been named the UK’s top destination by Lonely Planet.
Craigievar Castle, near Alford in Aberdeenshire, topped the world famous travel guide’s list of the ten lesser known UK destinations to visit in 2021.
Built in 1576, Craigievar is one of the country’s most famous tower houses and is said to have been the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle.
It’s turrets, ornate corbels and carved stonework have attracted royalty in the past – including Queen Victoria.
It was originally owned by the Forbes family in 1610 after William Forbes, who made his fortune as a merchant, trading goods between Scotland and the Baltics, purchased it.
He spent a massive chunk of his wealth renovating the castle which was completed in 1626.
The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) took over running the estate in the 1960s.
A survey found only 23% of the country knew the iconic castle is said to have been the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle.
General manager of NTS North East, Iain Hawkins, said: “We are delighted to hear of this recognition for Cragievar Castle, although, of course, it is no secret to National Trust for Scotland members and the people of Aberdeenshire.
“It’s a favourite of mine because in changing light conditions, each day’s view seems to be different.”
The castle, which attracts thousands of visitors every year, was once adjoined by a lower enclosing wall, known in Scots as a “barmkin”.
Last month, the lost walls and fortifications of the castle were revealed in a new project carried out by the National Trust for Scotland.
Using 3D technology, past archaeological studies and plans and paintings of Craigievar Castle, the 16th-century “barmkin” walls have been rediscovered and mapped out.
Visitors are now able to walk the defensive lines and discover another chapter of the castle’s history.
Tom Hall, at Lonely Planet, said: “London has always dominated tourism in the UK, and for good reason, but the entire country is overflowing with historic sites and natural wonders.
“The pandemic caused us all to pause and re-evaluate how we travel, and I think now is the perfect time to update that bucket list with some of these under-the-radar places you might have overlooked in the past.”