On the banks of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands, Urquhart Castle has been a silent witness to the country’s most famous folktale, dating back hundreds of years. But the rumors of the Loch Ness Monster reached a crescendo in the mid-1930s when an amazing photograph seemed to confirm the existence of the beast.
Regularly raided between the 13th and 16th centuries, it’s no surprise that Urquhart Castle is in ruins. But these iconic ruins, now owned by the National Trust for Scotland, are a must-see for visitors.
The beautiful country estate of Upton House outside of Poole, England, was the subject of one of the strangest inheritance disputes in history. When the heir to the Tichborne fortune disappeared in a shipwreck, an Australian butcher claimed to be the Tichbornes’ lost son.
Modest as far as English estates go, Upton House was home to the Prince of Romania in the 1960s. But today, the mansion is available for weddings, events and tours.
Mount Vernon, George Washington’s historic home on the banks of the Potomac River in Virginia, may have been the setting for a strange medical experiment following the first American president’s death in 1799, when a doctor attempted to convince Martha Washington to allow him to resurrect the legendary statesman.
This front parlor at Mount Vernon is said to have been one of George Washington’s favorite rooms and was used for entertaining guests, reading and drinking tea. Throughout the 1700s, the Washingtons continually updated this room, adding all the fashionable accoutrements of the time.
The Villa dei Mulini was Napoleon Bonaparte’s seat of power during his exile on the Island of Elba off the coast of Italy. It was from this villa, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, that Napoleon plotted his unlikely escape from the island and return to power in France.
The Villa dei Mulini is now open to visitors from all around the world. The estate now has a restaurant featuring local cuisine, rooms and apartments for rent and bike trails through the grounds.
The Mount Airy Mansion, sitting on 1,000 acres inside what is now Rosaryville State Park in Upper Marlboro, MD, keeps with its history as a place for presidential parties with its new life as an event and wedding space.
The Mount Airy Mansion was the final home of the heiress Cissy Paterson, the daughter of a wealthy American family who became trapped in an abusive marriage to a Ukrainian count.
The Malaspina Castle of Fosdinovo in Italy was the beautiful setting of the tragic tale of Bianca Maria Aloisia, the daughter of the powerful Malaspina family. The young woman, kept isolated from the world because she was an albino, decided to defy her cruel parents and pursue a love affair with a humble stable boy – which may have caused her demise.
Today, the Malaspina Castle of Fosdinovo is a museum, an artists’ residence and a bed and breakfast. Painters, writers and travelers alike can soak in the Tuscan views of the Apuan Alps and cozy accommodations.