World's Best Castles
They're grand, historic fortresses, and to see the best of them you have to go to Europe -- or check out these photos.
Highclere Castle's saloonA view of the saloon -- a room for socializing, set in the center of the house -- in Highclere Castle in Newbury, England. The ancestral home of the Carnarvon family since 1679, the castle has recently been made famous as the setting for the hugely popular TV series, Downton Abbey. 960 1280
Highclere Castle's drawing roomThis photo of Almina Wombwell sits in the drawing room, which is decorated with bolts of green French silk given to Almina by her banking tycoon father, Alfred de Rothschild. She became the lady of Highclere Castle when she married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon in 1895. 960 1280
Highclere Castle's libraryThe Earl's desk is displayed in the castle’s library. An active Tory in Parliament, the 4th Earl of Carnarvon would retreat here in what has been nicknamed the “withdrawing room.” In Downton Abbey, Lord Grantham can often be found in this room, mulling over papers and fretting about the future of the estate. 960 1280
Highclere Castle's Oak StaircaseThe Oak Staircase was designed by English architect and artist, Thomas Allom, who is also known for his work with Sir Charles Barry in designing the Houses of Parliament. The staircase took a year to carve and install. Downton Abbey fans will fondly recall Lady Mary descending this staircase in her wedding dress, on her way to exchange vows with Matthew Crawley. 960 1280
Highclere Castle's Mercia bedroomOn the first floor alone, there are 11 bedrooms and between 40 and 50 throughout the rest of the castle. The Mercia bedroom, seen here, is decorated with 18th-century silks. Downton Abbey fans may recognize the bedroom as belonging to Cora, the Countess of Grantham (although the Earl of Grantham is known to sneak in after the ladies’ maids and butlers have gone to bed). 960 1280
Tour Highclere Castle 15 Photos