Discover 8 Gorgeous Castles Found in Pennsylvania

Written by Ashley Day
Updated: September 1, 2023
© Christian Carollo/
Share this post on:


Pennsylvania is a state filled with historical treasures and cultural richness. Framed by nature’s finest artistry, it boasts eight castle-like establishments, each with unique charm and an intriguing narrative. These architectural marvels create a rich tapestry of history and form a fascinating part of the vibrant tourist scene in Pennsylvania.

Nestled within the vast landscapes of the United States, Pennsylvania is a living storybook of history. It’s a unique stage where the tales of early settlers, pioneers, and visionaries come alive. Furthermore, the castles found in Pennsylvania, punctuating the terrain, are stunning embodiments of this rich history.

Each showcases a spectacular fusion of human creativity, resilience, and architectural brilliance.

University of Pennsylvania Old Building Dormitory
All the castles in Pennsylvania were originally constructed between the 1700s and 1900s.


Opportunity Awaits

Each of these architectural gems, scattered across the state’s diverse landscape, is a silent custodian of history, offering captivating glimpses into different eras. Set amidst the state’s natural beauty, they’re an open invitation to explore and learn. From the rolling hills enveloping Glencairn in Bryn Athyn to the lush greenery surrounding Grey Towers Castle in Glenside, each castle offers an immersive experience blending historical intrigue and natural allure.

Moreover, the majesty of these castle-like structures extends beyond their grand facades, presenting a myriad of tourist opportunities. Visitors can stroll through the meticulously preserved rooms of Fonthill Castle, marvel at the vast collection of American artifacts in the Mercer Museum, or explore the opulence of Druim Moir Castle. Each visit provides a unique peek into the past, as fascinating and varied as the state’s natural landscapes themselves.

Interestingly, some of these establishments serve a dual purpose. The Eastern State Penitentiary, although initially a prison, now stands as a striking monument of historical significance and offers guided tours that shed light on its past. Similarly, Stokesay Castle, once a grand manor, has adapted to modern needs, now functioning as a restaurant and event venue while retaining its historical charm.

History, Architecture, and Nature Bring These Castles to Life

These structures are not just tourist spots but gateways to the past, set against the backdrop of Pennsylvania’s diverse natural beauty. Each one, with its unique story and setting, contributes to the state’s vibrant tourist scene. Visitors can enjoy a blend of history, architecture, and nature, making Pennsylvania a captivating destination for travelers.

Whether it’s a weekend getaway or an educational trip, these castles found in Pennsylvania offer a thrilling journey into the past, enriched by the state’s natural charm. Each castle stands as a testament to the state’s rich history, offering an unforgettable experience where architecture, history, and nature intertwine beautifully.

So, let’s explore these eight castles found in Pennsylvania and dive into the top three that are most intriguing.

A castle after a snowfall
Fonthill Castle is located in Doylestown, PA.

©Christian Carollo/

8 Castles in Pennsylvania

exterior view of eastern state pen in philadelphia
Pennsylvania is home to eight castle-like establishments.

©Alison Hancock/

Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA

Amidst the bustling cityscape of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, stands a striking testament to history, architecture, and intrigue; the Eastern State Penitentiary, one of the castles found in Pennsylvania. A bastion of architectural prowess and cultural significance, the Penitentiary is much more than a former prison; it’s an immersive journey into the past, set against the backdrop of Pennsylvania’s natural diversity. This castle-like establishment, rich in stories and nestled within the folds of the city, presents a captivating blend of history, architecture, and urban wildlife.

Tourist Opportunities

Moreover, visitors to Eastern State Penitentiary, a National Historic Landmark, are offered a range of fascinating experiences. For starters, the building’s Gothic, castle-like exterior is a sight to behold. But the real magic begins when you step inside. The self-guided audio tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi, weaves a narrative tapestry as you stroll through the cellblocks, central rotunda, and the haunting solitude of death row. The “Hands-On History” interactive exhibits delve deeper into the prison’s past, shedding light on inmates’ daily lives and the Penitentiary’s architectural significance.

But the intrigue doesn’t stop there. The Penitentiary also serves as a space for art installations and exhibits. Visitors can peruse thought-provoking works that interpret the legacy of the prison and its impact on society. For the thrill-seekers, the annual “Terror Behind the Walls” event transforms the prison into a spine-tingling haunted house, providing a unique, albeit chilling, perspective on the historic landmark.

Surrounding Wildlife

Eastern State Penitentiary, located within the urban landscape of Philadelphia, it’s no stranger to the vibrant flutter of wildlife. Even within this city setting, an array of birds have made the penitentiary grounds their home, from sparrows and starlings to the occasional hawk soaring above. The surrounding Fairmount neighborhood is also home to a variety of urban wildlife, including squirrels, raccoons, and the occasional red fox.

The Architecture

Eastern State Penitentiary carries the distinction of having introduced the concept of solitary confinement, once considered a groundbreaking approach to prisoner reform. It was believed that solitude would encourage inmates to reflect and repent for their crimes. This principle is reflected in the Penitentiary’s design, with each cell equipped with a skylight, referred to as the “Eye of God,” symbolizing spiritual reflection.

Moreover, the Penitentiary’s radial design, inspired by the theories of social reformer Jeremy Bentham, was highly influential. This unique architectural model was replicated by over 300 prisons worldwide, highlighting its historical and architectural significance.

The History

Yet, perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of the Penitentiary is its former inmates, including the infamous Al Capone and bank robber Willie Sutton. Capone’s cell, recreated based on historical accounts, is part of the tour, offering a peek into the paradox of his luxurious confinement.

To visit the Eastern State Penitentiary, one of the castles found in Pennsylvania, is to walk through history while appreciating its architectural prowess and cultural significance. Amidst the urban wildlife and historical stories, this former prison stands as a monument to the past. This thought-provoking landmark serves as a bridge between history and the present day. So, as it continues to echo tales of expired eras, it invites visitors to explore, learn, and reflect, standing as an enduring symbol of Pennsylvania’s rich and varied heritage.

Front Gate Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia jail
Eastern State Penitentiary used to be a prison.


Mercer Museum in Doylestown, PA

Tucked away in the charming borough of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, the Mercer Museum stands as a magnificent testament to the ingenious spirit of early American life. As you wander through this unique castle-like structure, it’s not just a building you’re exploring but an encapsulation of America’s pre-industrial history. Nestled in a scenic landscape with urban wildlife as its neighbors, the Mercer Museum is not just a destination but a journey back in time.

Tourist Opportunities

Step into the Mercer Museum, and you’ll be stepping into a vivid tapestry of American history. This architectural marvel houses over 40,000 artifacts representing 60 early American trades. From a shoemaker’s humble tools to a tinsmith’s elaborate machinery, the museum captures the spirit of early American craftsmanship and innovation.

In addition, tourists at the museum take a fascinating journey through the everyday lives of the early settlers. The artifacts, collected by archaeologist and tile maker Henry Chapman Mercer, are displayed in such a way that you can almost hear the clatter of the blacksmith’s hammer and the whir of the weaver’s loom. As you meander through the seven-story concrete castle, you encounter a variety of exhibits, including an antique fire engine, a Conestoga wagon, and even an early whaleboat suspended dramatically from the ceiling.

Moreover, of the castles found in Pennsylvania, Mercer Museum doesn’t just house artifacts. It’s also home to the Spruance Library. This research library holds over 20,000 books, manuscripts, and photographs, all dedicated to preserving and understanding the history of Bucks County and the Delaware Valley Region.

Furthermore, Mercer’s collection continues beyond the museum’s doors. Visitors can also tour Fonthill Castle, Mercer’s former home, which stands as a remarkable example of his creativity and vision. Like the museum, Fonthill is made of concrete and adorned with extensive tilework from Mercer’s own Moravian Pottery and Tile Works.

Surrounding Wildlife

Located in the heart of Doylestown, the Mercer Museum shares its space with urban wildlife. You might spot grey squirrels darting along tree branches or a variety of bird species. Species include cardinals, bluejays, and sparrows found flitting around in green spaces. You might even glimpse white-tailed deer visiting from nearby woodlands on quiet evenings.

The Architecture

In Addition, one of the most fascinating aspects of the Mercer Museum is the building itself. Henry Mercer was an early proponent of using reinforced concrete, and he designed the museum, which is constructed entirely of hand-mixed concrete. Mercer intended the museum to stand the test of time, creating a lasting tribute to pre-industrial America.

The History

The land on which the museum resides overflows with history. Doylestown, once a part of William Penn’s original land grant from King Charles II of England, played a crucial role in the Revolutionary War. Today, it’s known for its arts scene and historical architecture, with the Mercer Museum playing a significant role in that cultural heritage.

Furthermore, visiting the Mercer Museum is a truly immersive experience. It offers a rare opportunity to explore America’s past, housed within an architectural marvel surrounded by Pennsylvania’s vibrant wildlife. It’s more than just a museum; it’s a historical treasure that invites visitors to step back in time and marvel at the rich tapestry of early American life.

Mercer Museum Castle Bucks County, PA
Mercer Museum homes over 40,000 artifacts.

©Marianne Fisher/

Stokesay Castle in Reading, PA

Ensconced in the rolling hills of Reading, Pennsylvania, Stokesay Castle weaves together the threads of history, gastronomy, and natural beauty. No longer a fortified stronghold but a welcoming haven, this enchanting estate draws in tourists with its charm. It also offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Tourist Opportunities

Once you cross the threshold of Stokesay Castle, you are greeted with a blend of old-world elegance and modern comfort. It is one of the handful of castles found in Pennsylvania. Today, it serves as a fine dining restaurant and event venue. As well as providing a rich culinary experience within a setting reminiscent of English nobility. Weddings are just one popular type of event held at this historic castle.

Moreover, at Stokesay Castle, the gastronomic opportunities are as captivating as the architectural beauty of the establishment. The Lord’s Dining Room offers an upscale dining experience with a menu that boasts local and seasonal dishes. Meanwhile, the Knight’s Pub and Patio offers a more relaxed atmosphere, with a menu of contemporary American cuisine.

In addition to the dining experiences, Stokesay Castle hosts a plethora of events throughout the year. These include themed dinner parties, holiday celebrations, and even murder mystery dinners, all within the splendid setting of the castle.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that Stokesay Castle’s primary function is as a dining and event venue. And the surrounding grounds are accessible to visitors. This access allows visitors the opportunity to appreciate the exterior architecture. As well as enjoy the landscaped gardens, and soak in the serene views of the neighboring woodland.

Surrounding Wildlife

Tucked in the heart of Berks County and embraced by the region’s varied wildlife is Stokesay Castle. The county, known for its rich biodiversity, offers plenty of bird-watching opportunities. Common species such as the red-tailed hawk, Eastern bluebird, and a variety of woodpeckers call it home. The surrounding woodland also hosts deer, foxes, and groundhogs. The nearby Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center further adds to the area’s natural attractions. They offer visitors walking trails and glimpses of local flora and fauna.

The Architecture

The history of Stokesay Castle is as intriguing as its structure. Although built in the 20th century, the castle was designed to replicate the 13th-century English castle of the same name. The Reading Castle includes architectural elements reminiscent of its English counterpart. These elements include the likes of a moat (now dry), a gatehouse, and an impressive great hall.

Moreover, the castle was meticulously restored in 2009 to retain its historical charm while incorporating modern amenities. During the renovation, careful attention was paid to preserving the original elements. Such elements included the leaded glass windows and hand-carved woodwork, thereby preserving the castle’s authenticity.

The History

Furthermore, this enchanting property was named after a historic castle in England. It was originally built in 1931 as a private residence by George Hiester.

Stokesay Castle, in essence, provides a unique blend of history, dining, and natural beauty. As you savor a meal within its historic walls, surrounded by Pennsylvania’s vibrant wildlife, you partake in a rich legacy that stretches across centuries and continents. It’s more than a dining experience. It’s a journey through time, a testament to craftsmanship, and a celebration of the harmony between man-made beauty and nature.

Beautiful asian woman tour guide talking to traveler and giving travel infomation.
Many castles in Pennsylvania offer guided or self-guided tours.



The state of Pennsylvania has numerous architectural marvels that tell a rich story of history, innovation, and artistic prowess. Some of these castle-like structures serve as museums, dining establishments, or monuments. And they offer fascinating glimpses into the past while being firmly rooted in the present. They stand as a testament to human imagination and endurance.

Additionally, the Eastern State Penitentiary, Mercer Museum, and Stokesay Castle are prime examples of this. They offer an array of tourist opportunities. That includes exploring exhibits that showcase early American trades to relishing fine dining in settings reminiscent of English nobility. Nestled within Pennsylvania’s diverse landscape, these establishments also provide opportunities to engage with the state’s vibrant wildlife. You can find urban squirrels and myriad bird species in Doylestown to woodland creatures in Reading. The interaction between these architectural masterpieces and the natural world around them adds a unique charm to the visitor experience.

To conclude, as we stand on the cusp of a new era, these castles found in Pennsylvania remind us of the importance of preserving our historical and natural heritage. They offer a compelling blend of history, culture, nature, and modern amenities. And invite visitors into a world where the past and present coexist in harmony. So the next time you plan a visit to Pennsylvania, remember you’re not just visiting a state, but stepping into a living, breathing chapter of American history and natural beauty.

Summary of 8 Gorgeous Castles Found in Pennsylvania

CastleLocationYear of Completed Construction
GlencairnBryn Athyn, PA1939
FonthillDoylestown, PA1912
Grey Towers CastleGlenside, PA1898
Bowman’s CastleBrownsville, PA1789
Mercer MuseumDoylestown, PA1916
Stokesay CastleReading, PA1931
Druim Moir CastlePhiladelphia, PA1886
Eastern State PenitentiaryPhiladelphia, PA1829

The Featured Image

A castle after a snowfall
© Christian Carollo/

Share this post on:
About the Author

Ashley is a freelance writer and wildlife photographer. Insatiably curious and drawn to knowledge, she has a passion for conservation and sharing the wonder of the natural world with others.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.