About Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle has been the official Highlands home of the British royal family since the reign of Queen Victoria, and today welcomes visitors to view some of its eminent history first-hand.
Balmoral Castle history
Having fallen in love with the Highlands after their first visit in 1842, it was Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who first bought the lease to Balmoral in 1848, despite having never visited the site itself.
Thus that same year the pair ventured to their new estate, with Victoria writing in her diary that: “All seemed to breathe freedom and peace, and to make one forget the world and its sad turmoils”. The surrounding area reportedly reminded them of Thuringia, Albert’s German homeland.
Finding the existing castle too small however, they commissioned Aberdeen architect William Smith to build a completely new structure some 100 yards from the original. Prince Albert himself had a role in the design process, taking a particular interest in its turrets and windows, and the Balmoral Castle we see today was built between 1853 and 1856.
Balmoral Castle today
Today Balmoral Castle remains the private residence of the British Royal family, and as such many of their private rooms are closed to the public. Between April and July however, some of Balmoral is open for visitors.
The highlight of the site is the Castle Ballroom, a magnificent hall adorned with portraits, silver statues, and Minton China still used to host dances by the Royals each year. Audio guides are available detailing the workings of the estate and its history, while a series of exhibitions are also on display, such as the Estate exhibition and wildlife display in the Carriage Hall Courtyard.
The extensive gardens at Balmoral may also be explored, each of which have been improved and expanded by successive members of the Royal Family. Features include a water garden, a number of Victorian glasshouses and a conservatory, and a kitchen garden curated by the Duke of Edinburgh.
Getting to Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle is located between Ballater and Braemar, just off the A93. The nearest train station is in Aberdeen, 50 miles from Balmoral, and the 201 Stagecoach service runs to the Balmoral Road End Stop, a 20-minute walk to the entrance. Parking is available by the Estates Office.
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