You probably didn’t know Texas had castles, did you? The surprising fact is there are more than 20 castles in the Lone Star State. While kings and queens didn’t necessarily live in these castles, many of Texas’ stately strongholds were influenced by royal castles found in Europe and built as quirky fortified residences.
Although there are privately-owned and abandoned castles you can’t walk inside, there are a number of castles that welcome tourists and history buffs. Castles like the Greystone Castle and the 290 Wine Castle were built exclusively for visitors. Others have historical significance and were preserved as historical landmarks or museums.
Here are seven castles that you can see without having to leave Texas.
Elisabet Ney Museum - Austin
Tucked away in a residential area is a recently reopened art museum and former home to groundbreaking artist Elisabet Ney from the late 1800’s. This is one of the smaller castles on this list. One of the things that makes it castle-like is the one turret atop the structure and has a spiral staircase inside leading up to the old studio. The museum of Elisabet Ney contains the artist’s sculptures and paintings of kings and Texas legends including Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston. Once Ney died in 1907, the Texas Fine Arts Association turned the studio castle into a museum where you can see all of Ney’s artwork as well as ever-changing exhibits of more modern contemporary artists from Austin.
Elisabet Ney Museum, 304 East 44th Street. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit their website.
Cottonland Castle - Waco
This 127-year old castle has eight fireplaces, a tower, and beautiful interior accents like mahogany paneling from Honduras, Caen Stone from France, and Carrara Marble from Italy. Cottonland Castle also has a rich history for bringing the cotton industry to Waco. Originally built as a personal residence in the early 1900’s and after undergoing multiple ownerships, the Cottonland Castle is in the hands of reality TV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines.
The famous couple are renovating it to all of its former glory with hopes to open the castle up for tours in the near future. While you cannot tour the inside, this works as a good drive-by visit.
Cottonland Castle, 3300 Austin Ave. The castle is currently closed for renovations. For more information, visit their website.
290 Wine Castle - Johnson City
This 9,000-square foot modern castle sits on 11 acres of Texas Hill Country beauty and it’s perfect for a romantic getaway. When you cross the bridge to the castle, you might notice a dragon statue called Nessy, in the river waiting to greet you. Step inside the courtly decor, the “throne” rooms, and head to the kitchen to order their famous wood-fired pizza. Choose to sip wine on an Instagram-worthy expansive patio deck with 360 views of the Texas Hill Country, or experience the Wine Dungeon bar for a dimly-lit speakeasy vibe and chocolate-cheese wine pairing. There are also four private circular turret wine tasting rooms, and a members-only rooftop.
Soon, you will be able to stay on the grounds with their boutique hotel opening this summer. The 290 Wine Castle at Chateau de Chasse is a must-visit for its unique pairing of castle and wine tasting.
290 Wine Castle, 101 Durango St. Open Monday through Thursday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m, Friday and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Both walk-ins and reservations are welcome daily. For more information on events, wine and venue bookings go to their website.
Falkenstein Castle - Burnet
If you’ve ever wanted to feel like German royalty, the Falkenstein Castle is just the place. Inspired by the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, this 14,000 square foot castle is a majestic Airbnb you can book for your next family getaway. Driving up to the castle you’ll pass a 9,000 gallon bubbling stream with hidden gems and crystals built within the stream that make it glisten in the sun. A golden-winged angel statue greets you from the center of the stream. Walk through the towering gothic arched doors and be welcomed by 100 pieces of artwork and paintings, including ancient cultural artifacts of knights’ armor and swords. On a clear day, views from this 90-foot-high castle’s balcony include 50-plus miles of central Texas and a captivating view of Lake Buchanan.
Falkenstein Castle, 7400 Park Rd 4 S. Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only. For more information, visit their website.
Greystone Castle - Mingus
A more modern-lux castle just west of Fort Worth is Greystone Castle Sporting Club. You’ll immediately see four turrets peeking above the tree line upon driving to the grounds. This 6,000-acre ranch turned sporting club is known for being a bird and whitetail deer hunting destination for Texans and out-of-staters alike. If you’re not big on hunting, but enjoy the outdoors, you can practice your long-range rifle, tactical, and pistol shooting skills. Or opt for trophy bass fishing in the man-made, 80-acre lake. The sporting club is also a place for the non-hunters in your family. Other activities at the castle include safari-style tours, hiking trails, ATV trail rides, mountain biking, kayaking, cowboy cooking classes, and more.
Located at 65756 Interstate 20. Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week. For more information visit their website.
Newman’s Castle - Bellville
Six days out of the week, you can tour this towering fortress that sits in Austin County between Houston and Austin. While on a guided tour, kids will get swords to charge the castle and fight knights and dragons over a 3,000-pound drawbridge. See a demonstration of the medieval cannon shooting cannonballs into the moat, and take pictures on top of the center tower for a dramatic view of the rolling countryside. Other features of Newman’s Castle include the banquet hall, the chapel and dungeon, which owner Mike Newman built himself. Head over to Newman’s Bakery just five miles away in downtown Bellville and order a country-style breakfast or grab fresh pastries to-go.
Newman’s Castle, 504 E Main St. Tours start at 10:30 a.m., leaving from the bakery most days of the week. For tour reservations call (979) 865-9804, or visit their website for more information.
1892 Bishop’s Palace - Galveston
A short drive will get you to this chateauesque style castle that was built in 1887. You’ll be awestruck by the grand entryway and staircase with etched stained glass inlays. The interior design is inspired by the Catholic Church, and it’s influenced by the historic Gresham family, the original builders of the house.
You’ll be impressed by the dining room with its wood-carved detail on the walls, and the angel mural above the dining room table. Also in this room is a lincrusta trim bordering the ceiling, which was a trend at the time it was built, to imitate stamped-leather. Throughout the house you’ll see 14-foot-tall ceilings, 13 fireplaces, a chapel, and a pink and blue master bedroom.
Visitors can take a guided tour or explore the palace at your own pace throughout the year. There are also exclusive "Basement to Attic" tours that are offered once a month. The palace is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bishop’s Palace, 1402 Broadway Street. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. For more information, visit their website.