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The former home of an American president

Culzean Castle is looked after by the National Trust for Scotland. It's the most visited of all their properties, which says something about how impressive this fortress is.

Culzean Castle
Photo Andrea_44
It was built by the Georgians in the 17th century, making it a much newer structure than Scotland's many medieval castles. This is no old ruin; Culzean could be something out of a Walt Disney film. The ornate turrets and battlements line up majestically, watched over by the huge drum tower. Approached by a viaduct, the whole thing stands on a tall cliff, jutting out dramatically into the ocean. On a clear day, breathtaking views of the islands of Arran and Alisa Craig can be seen from the terraced courtyard.

Culzean Castle and Gardens
Photo Ru Lochlea
Spreading out beneath the castle is a network of caves. These dark tunnels used to be infested with smugglers, who came here to hide their contraband. They struck a deal with the Kennedy family, who owned Culzean. In return for a share of the profits, the Kennedys turned a blind eye to the illegal goings-on.

Various outbuildings after a fall of snow
Photo StressedTechnician
Part of this money probably went towards the reconstruction of the castle. This was at the end of the 18th century, when the Kennedys transformed their home from a relatively modest country house into a boastful mansion. The architect in charge of the work was Robert Adam. At the time he was regarded as the best in the country. This must have been reflected in his bill, as the project completely bankrupted the Kennedys!
Culzean Castle is regarded as an Adam's masterpiece. It's built around the Oval Staircase, which winds its way up the centre of the property. Just next to here is the Round Drawing Room, where the guests would have been entertained. Its large windows offer spectacular panoramic views of the ocean.

Part of the Oval Staircase
Photo Lisa_Nichols
In 1945 Culzean's top floor was given to General Eisenhower, who commanded the Allied forces in World War II. The American obviously appreciated the gift, as he visited it several times. Eisenhower later became president and, for a time, Culzean was even described as the "Scottish White House". The man himself referred to it as a place he could relax.
Nowadays these rooms are available to the public, so you can pretend you're the leader of America! The sea view from the sitting room is definitely presidential.
The top floor rooms are filled with Eisenhower memorabilia, so you can find out a little more about the time he spent here. Elsewhere in the castle, you'll find plenty of other items, from classic art to period furniture.
Culzean's armoury is particularly notable. It's nearly as big as the Queen's collection at Windsor Castle, making this one of the most important weapons exhibits in the world. The examples of early pistols are especially valuable.
But it's not just Culzean's collections that are important; the whole building is a national treasure. If you need any further proof of this, just look at the back of a Scottish five-pound note. An illustration of the castle has been displayed there since 1987.
The grandeur of Culzean is not restricted to the castle alone. It also has extensive grounds and woodlands open to the public. There is a walled garden and you can wander freely amongst the lawns and orangery. Access to the nearby beach is also possible via steps in the cliff face. Finally, a visitors centre, coffee shop and restaurant provide all that is needed to perfect any trip to Culzean.

The view over the garden
Photo doeraymee

Part of the walled garden
Photo luckyjimmy
Visitor Information
Culzean Castle & Country Park is open daily April to November, 10.30am to 5pm (Park open all year round). Entry costs around £13 (£9 Park only). Culzean, KA19 8LE. Tel: 0844 493 2149

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