Urquhart Castle is one of the largest castles in Scotland, and the fact that it can be found along the shores of famous Loch Ness only helps to make it a popular Scottish tourist attraction. Loch Ness is the lake in which the Loch Ness Monster supposedly lives. Whether you believe in the Loch Ness Monster or not, you might keep an eye on the water while visiting Urquhart Castle. Reported sightings of the creature from the site of this castle ruin are relatively common.
Urquhart Castle is extensively ruined, though visitors to the site should have little trouble imagining the structure's rich history. There is enough left over to give you an idea of the former size of this castle complex, and its position on the water hints at its past role as a strategically placed medieval fortress. The Urquhart Castle near Loch Ness enjoys commanding views of the water, and the location atop a rocky promontory aided in its defense over the years. There is actually evidence that some sort of fortified building has stood on the site for more than 1,400 years, and the remains of the castle that you see today have been around for approximately 500 years.
As is true of the history of many Scottish castles, Urquhart Castle history saw the fortress changing hands on numerous occasions. Frequent raids resulted in significant destruction over the course of the castle's life, and the most damaging of these raids occurred in 1692. After being largely destroyed by in 1692, Urquhart Castle was essentially left to decay. Contributing to the natural decay of the castle was the plundering of stones by locals, though this practice has thankfully stopped. Urquhart Castle is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland, and Historic Scotland helps to run it. As such, the structure is a protected landmark, and you'll be happy to know that it can be visited year round.
Anyone who is interested in the Urquhart Castle tours can find the ruined structure along the A82 road between Inverness and Fort William. Thanks to Historic Scotland, the site boasts a visitor center, and parking is available for those who need it. Inside the Urquhart Castle visitor center, you can learn all about the storied history of the site, and should you get hungry or wish to pick up a souvenir, both a restaurant and a gift shop are among the facilities. There is an admission fee for Urquhart Castle, and the daily hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. April through September, and 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. October through March.
As a side note, couples who are trying to find a magical venue for their Scotland wedding will want to keep Urquhart Castle near Loch Ness in mind. The setting of this ruined structure is very romantic and can serve as an ideal backdrop for ceremonies and photos.