Who doesn't go a bit frivolous at the sight of a castle? The good news is that you don't have to head to Europe for honest to kindness ones of the Cinderella variety—we have bounty right here in our own garden.
Castello di Amorosa
Word to the wise: drink the cabernet sauvignon and pinot grigio at the Castello di Amorosa winery warily, because anywhere in the 121,000-square-foot, 107-room, eight-level compound there's a cell with a handy Renaissance-era iron maiden.
Dryness of the millennium: William Randolph Hearst's 1919 order to designer Julia Morgan to "build a little amazing" on his ranch in San Simeon. Then again, a 115-room "Casa Grande" enthused by a Spanish cathedral is a comparatively modest scheme compared to the 250,000 acres and the 13 miles of shoreline it's set on.
Of all the Gilded Age Victorians built by Nicholas Clayton along Galveston's Gulf Coast, the Bishop's Palace remains the grandest—and not just since it’s steel and stone hulk live to tell the tale the Great Storm of 1900.
What do you do when you come diagonally a heart-shaped isle while vacationing with your wife in the Thousand Islands? If you're minion manufacturer George Boldt, you buy it and hire 300 stonemasons, carpenters, and artists to build a six-story, 120-room evidence to your love.
Castle in the Clouds
Location—as central in castles to fending off conquers as forget Gilded Age woes. And for millionaire shoe baron Thomas Plant, that destined setting his 1914 Lucknow Estate on the rim of an died out caldera high in the Ossipee Mountains with continuous views over 6,300 personal acres of woods and lakes.
Grey Towers Castle
Most colleges compete to be fortress of learning, but Arcadia University in the suburbs north of Philadelphia can back it up with ramparts acquire in 1929. Grey Towers was built by assorted sugar refiner William Welsh Harrison between 1893 and 1898 and model after Northumberland's Alnwick Castle.
Other properties on this list may be better and more lavish, but the 'Iolani Palace has one thing above them all: legality. America's only true palace—as in, monarchs resided here—was built from 1879 to 1882 by King Kalakua and Queen Kapi'olani.
Celebrating its centenary in 2012, the former home of industrialist-turned-archaeologist Henry Mercer is an ode to artisanship: All 44 rooms, 32 stairwells, 18 fireplaces, and 21 chimneys are hewn from hand-mixed unbreakable concrete in a mishmash of medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine styles.
It's elementary: Get eminent (and rich) by playing Sherlock Holmes on the period; build your own Baskerville Hall. Pet expansion of campy unconventional William Hooker Gillette, the 24-room fortress was completed in 1919 by a crew of 20 men over five years using the actor/playwright's own drafts and designs.
Second behind Asheville's Biltmore as the main private estate in the nation, OHEKA—an acronym of Otto Herman Kahn, its millionaire investment banker novel owner—ended up forsaken in the late 1970s and continuous wide-ranging damage from fires, vandals, and pass over.