The 50 Greatest Castles and Palaces of the World

Peter Morrell is intrigued by Gilly Pickup’s latest book

I have thoroughly enjoyed Gilly’s earlier books and this was no exception. We are transported to far-flung places where Gilly expertly guides us through 50 grand historic buildings. The book starts with the definition of what is a castle and what is a palace. This is useful as it puts into context the design of the buildings and the roles that they played in history.

We start our tour in the UK and Gilly’s meticulous research gives us great insight, not only into the history of the buildings but in-depth information about the people who created and lived in these fascinating edifices.

I was intrigued by the description of Leeds Castle in Kent. Although I had paid a visit a while ago I was totally unaware of the building’s history, particularly the parties thrown by the last colourful private owner. So you even if you have visited the castle or palace you will learn facts about it that will delight, captivate and enchant you.

Moving further afield we hear of castles that have been the inspiration for creative people as diverse as William Shakespeare, Walt Disney and Bram Stoker. Many of the properties have also been used as the backdrop for many famous films and TV programs.

Each of the fifty entries is structured in the same way. A very detailed description of the castle or palace, its history and the characters who built and or played a part in its story. This is followed by a list of bullet point facts about the property, the location and website and finally some very useful visitor information.

Gilly has really brought alive these magnificent castles and palaces that have borne witness to turbulent, world-changing and romantic events. A little game you can play at the end is to count how many of the buildings you have personally visited. I only made it to 16, so less than a third of the total. The book has certainly inspired me to visit many of them from the eccentric Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria to the mysterious Forbidden City in Beijing.

In summary, a very engaging book which has been scrupulously researched and will inspire people to go and see these magnificent buildings.

Published by Icon Books

Available on Amazon and at other good booksellers

The Author

Gilly Pickup is a journalist and author. She writes about travel and cruise, wellbeing, food, health, history, art and culture, wildlife, arts, gardens and the paranormal for publications such as the Daily Telegraph, Daily Express, The Scotsman, Woman’s Own, Discover Britain, My Weekly and Sainsbury’s Magazine. Extracts of her work are available at