I have always had a fascination with fairytale castles, and Texas has plenty of them. Whether exploring museums, wedding venues, Galveston estates, Hill Country castles, old land offices, jailhouses, or private homes that are dreams come true, the castles across Texas are regal classics. We don’t have to travel across the pond to Bavaria or Germany to visit them. Here are some of my favorite castles right here in Texas.
1. Bishop’s Palace In Galveston
Located on Broadway at 14th Street in the East End Historic District of Galveston, my favorite, Bishop’s Palace, is also known as Gresham’s Castle, owned by Walter Gresham, his wife Josephine, and their nine children. Constructed between 1887 and 1893 by Galveston architect Nicholas J. Clayton, the sturdy stone building with 13 fireplaces withstood the 1900 hurricane. In 1923, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston purchased the house, and it served as the residence for Bishop Christopher E. Byrne. When the diocese moved to Houston in 1963, the mansion opened to the public with tour proceeds funding the UT Medical School’s Newman Center. The 20,000-square-foot home cost $250,000 to build, and today the value is over $6.9 million. Self-guided tours help fund the property’s preservation and restoration.
Pro Tip: Stay at 7 Seaside Sisters at the Gaido’s Seaside Inn, on the Gulf of Mexico. Enjoy a complimentary hot breakfast with Gaido’s Seafood Restaurant and Nick’s Kitchen and Beach Bar next door.
2. The Old Red Museum Castle In Dallas
Lovingly known as Old Red, the 1892 Romanesque Dallas County Courthouse is scheduled to return to its original use, becoming the new home of the Texas Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Once again, court proceedings and justice will fill the old courthouse, with renovations beginning in early 2022. The current Dallas County History and Culture Museum, opened in the courthouse in 2007, will be redesigned and displayed in three County buildings in the West End: Old Red, the Schoolbook Depository, the Criminal Courts/Records Complex, and four satellite county structures.
Pro Tip: Don’t miss the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, just a couple of blocks away, that chronicles the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the aftermath.
3. Falkenstein Castle, Burnet
Available for daily private rental, weddings, galas, and special events, Falkenstein Castle in Burnet became a dream come true. The owners visited the original King Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein castle in Germany, the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Disneyland Castle. They brought home copies of the artist’s renderings of a second castle called Falkenstein and other minor sketches and built their chateau in the Texas Hill Country.
Pro Tip: Stay in a cabin at Canyon of the Eagles Nature Park & Resort and have dinner at Overlook Restaurant with gorgeous sunset views.
4. Elisabet Ney Museum, Austin
The Elisabet Ney Museum celebrates her legacy, art, and history with exhibitions and events for the whole family. The historic home and studio of Elisabet Ney, a German sculptor who moved to Austin in 1882, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places based on its significance as the former American studio of Elisabet. The Formosa Studio is home to sculptured Texas legends Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin. King Ludwig II of Bavaria and Jacob Grimm are some of the European notables she sculpted. The Capital Improvement Project undergoing significant site upgrades will begin in 2022.
Pro Tip: Dine at Lutie’s Garden Restaurant in the Commodore Perry Estate, led by executive chef Bradley Nicholson and executive pastry chef Susana Querejazu.
5. Shelby County Courthouse Castle In Center
The 1885 Shelby County Courthouse in Center is the only remaining Irish castle-style courthouse in the United States. Architect J. J. E. Gibson of Ireland designed 12 chimneys encompassing the brick structure, like the castles he had seen while growing up in his native land. Gibson made more than two million bricks for the 2-story Romanesque brick building with sand for the mortar carried by oxcart from Louisiana, 40 miles away. The high ceilings and shuttered windows helped keep the courthouse cool. The first-floor rooms serve as a museum with Gibson’s portrait and various construction tools.
6. Old General Land Office Castle In Austin
The oldest surviving state government office building in Austin, designed by German architect Christoph Conrad Stremme, the Old General Land Office Building was completed in 1857. The castle-like parapets have a Norman-style influence, while rounded arches around the windows and doors feature a dramatic medieval castle-style known as Rundbogenstil. Located on the southeast corner of the Texas State Capitol grounds, the building functioned as the state’s land office building until 1917. Today it serves as the Capitol Visitors Center, offering tours and exhibits.
7. Brown County Museum Castle In Brownwood
Constructed between 1902 and 1903 by William Hood, a local architect and contractor, the Brown County Jail served as the region’s jail until 1981, one of the most impressive structures conveying romantic medieval military tradition and fortress-like power. It was bestowed a Texas Historical Marker in 1963. The Texas Historical Commission issued a grant for renovation and repair, and the Brown County Historical Commission preserved the building for a museum of local history.
8. Austin County Jail Castle In Bellville
The Romanesque Revival-style 4-story Jail House, constructed in 1896, has notched parapets, overhanging corner turrets, and stone window arches. See the gallows, used in 1901, the jailor’s quarters, and the jail cells all still the same. Arrange for a personal tour on Saturday, from 11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m., with many personal stories that bring the old jail to life. The consensus is that it is creepy but exciting. Don’t miss the gun display, law enforcement guns, and criminal, bad guys’ guns.
9. Newman’s Castle In Bellville
Newman’s Castle outside Bellville is a one-of-a-kind custom-built castle in the country that you must see to believe. Call the bakery for reservations since the castle hosts weddings, birthday parties, wine tastings, and other special events. Call again a day or 2 before the trip to confirm a final count since the tour includes lunch. Check-in at Newman’s Bakery on Main Street, and you will be given directions to the castle, about 5 miles out in the country. Allow 1.5–2 hours for the tour and lunch. You won’t believe the moat (gators?), a 3,000-pound drawbridge with a portcullis, chapel, five round-corner turrets, a courtyard, and central keep with a dramatic view of the surrounding countryside. The perimeter wall encompasses the castle, ensuring your safety from marauders.
Pro Tip: After lunch, head back to the bakery for sweets to take home.
10. Captain Charles Schreiner Mansion In Kerrville
Constructed in 1879, The 21,780-square-foot Captain Charles Schreiner Mansion is home to the Hill Country Museum. Architect Alfred Giles incorporated Renaissance Revival and Romanesque Revival architecture overlooking the expansive Peterson Plaza, available for special event rentals, including the VIP Suite and Events at Water Street space in the historic building. See the Schreiner Mansion’s website for dates and times for guided tours.
11. Trube Castle In Galveston
The Trube Castle is a Danish-inspired home designed by architect Alfred Muller and constructed in 1890 by John Clement Trube from Kiel Denmark. Trube married Veronica Durst, an early Texas Peter Durst heir, and the family had nine children. The castle is still owned and occupied by the Trube family. Constructed of solid brick with a Belgian cement finish, the castle withstood many gulf storms. The Texas Historical Commission added a historical marker in 1965.
12. The Lambermont Events In San Antonio
The Lambermont, the residence of Edwin Holland Terrell and his family, was built in 1894. While serving as Ambassador to Belgium in the early 1890s, Terrell fell in love with the castles and chateaus in Belgium and France. He commissioned architect Alfred Giles to design his home after the European courts. Today the estate is an ideal location for intimate dinners, weddings, and grand events. Four bedrooms and a carriage house apartment, all with private bathrooms, are available for overnight stays.
Pro Tip: See my article about the best hotels and restaurants on River Walk.
13. Façade Norde On Eagle Mountain Lake, Fort Worth
The Scottish-French castle called Façade Nord or North Face pays homage to his family, a replica of deBullet’s grandmother’s family castle in Scotland. His father’s family is French, siding with Napoleon. The 6,570-square-foot home has five bedrooms and five bathrooms, with 60 arches and multiple turrets. The castle stands on a bluff overlooking Eagle Mountain Lake.
Pro Tip: Hungry? See my article about Fort Worth patio dining.
14. The Castle At Rockwall, East Of Dallas
The award-winning Castle at Rockwall, on 10 acres, is the perfect place for a wedding, quinceanera, or special event, with 8,000 square feet of medieval architecture and creative landscaping. Towering beamed ceilings and architectural fireplaces, large areas for ceremonies and receptions are dreamy.
Pro Tip: For lunch or dinner, see my article about outdoor dining in Dallas.
15. Parsons Castle On Lake Whitney Near Waco
Parsons Castle is a unique, one-of-a-kind venue for a wedding, meeting, or special event, which opened in 2018 on beautiful Lake Whitney. The castle has 5 stories with balconies and crystal chandeliers on each floor. Host the perfect event in the 3,000-square-foot ballroom. The castle grounds offer a large front lawn, moat, drawbridge, multiple pavilions, private pool, and beautiful landscaping.