Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Pitlochry
Blair Castle dominates the northern end of the village of Blair Atholl. It occupies an important, strategic spot on the Perth to Inverness road in the broad Garry valley. The castle has been the seat of the Duke of Atholl (Murray clan) since the 17th century. In 1845 Queen Victoria granted the owner the unique privilege of maintaining a private army, the "Atholl Highlanders" and on the last Sunday in May the soldiers stage a colorful parade, while on other occasions one of the army's pipers stands in front of the castle and plays some popular Highland melodies.
A magnificent avenue of linden trees leads up to the gleaming white east front of the castle which was conquered only four times throughout its 700-year history. Famous guests include Mary Stuart (1564) and "Bonnie Prince Charlie", who stayed at the castle for one day with his Highland army in 1745. The oldest section of the castle is the two lower stories of the main tower (started in 1269), known as the Cumming Tower after the builder. The upper floors were added in the 19th century in Georgian style by the second Duke of Atholl, but in 1869 David and John Bryce were commissioned by the seventh Duke to return the castle to its original baronial style. The wood-paneled entrance hall is decorated with hunting trophies and a remarkable collection of arms which belonged to the Murrays. The Stewart Room contains portraits of Mary Stuart and her family and in Earl John's Room the helmet and armor of Viscount Dundee are displayed.
Hanging on the Picture Staircase are family portraits covering three generations, including works by Ramsay, Lely and Raeburn; a life-size picture of the first Duke was painted by Thomas Murray, while the first Marquis of Atholl is immortalized on canvas in a Caesar-like pose by Jakob de Witt. Fine period furniture, chinoiserie and Sèvres porcelain can be seen in the two adjoining salons. Thomas Clayton was responsible for creating the splendid plasterwork in the Dining Room, although Thomas Bardell made the "Four Seasons" ceiling medallions. The landscapes on the panels are by Charles Stewart, while the silver stag on the dining table was a present from the tenants to the seventh Duke and his wife on the occasion of their silver wedding in 1888. The outstanding painting in the second-floor corridor is David Allan's portrayal of the fourth Duke dressed in Highland costume and surrounded by his family. Also worth a mention are the furnishings in the Derby Dressing Room made almost entirely from broom wood, the painting of the third Duke, his wife and seven children in the Drawing Room, the Jacobite portraits in the Tullibardine Room and the fine Brussels tapestries (woven for Charles I) in the Tapestry Room. The showcases in the Treasury display jewelry belonging to the family and the natural history museum illustrates Highland wildlife. The Ballroom was completed in 1877 and above the stage hangs Raeburn's portrait of the famous fiddler Neil Gow. Look out for the comprehensive collection of porcelain which includes some delightful hand-painted pieces from Sèvres, Derby and Wedgwood. After a tour of the interior, the castle grounds are ideal for a stroll.
Charles I, a connoisseur and collector, was a great patron of the arts. He not only commissioned a large number of portraits to be painted by Anthony van Dyke but also many sets of tapestries as well.
Brussels had been the center for fine tapestry weaving since the late 15th century.