on June 8, 2009
We toured Craigdarroch Castle as part of the Victoria Highlights and Craigdarroch Castle tour offered by Royal Caribbean via Gray Line Tours. The castle's construction was completed in 1890 and occupied by the Dunsmuir family. Over the years, it has also served as a military hospital and music conservatory.The castle is located in a residential area. We were given an hour to explore its four floors and its tower on our own. Upon entering, each person was required to use the machine at the door to clean the soles of their shoes. Doing this helps keep the castle clean.Those who like woodwork and stained glass windows will probably find touring the castle a treat. There are many pieces of intricately carved wooden furniture, doors, and walls. Additionally, there are personal items of the family throughout the castle such as portraits, photos, letters, hand-written schedules, and books. Signs posted throughout the home explain the significance of each room and its contents.The family enjoyed playing music as a pastime. We saw many musical instruments throughout the residence. Given most of the items in the castle are roped off to discourage visitors from touching them, I was surprised to see a sign inviting musically-trained visitors to try out the 1879 Steinway & Sons square piano. Playing piano has been my hobby since age seven; therefore, I decided to sit down and play a few bars of Chopin. The piano has obviously been well maintained over the past 130 years. It had a very nice tone even though the person playing it was a little rusty:(.We made our way up to the circular tower where we could look out over the city. The view was nice but the more impressive thing for me was the large wooden door that was shaped to seamlessly fit the curvature of the room.There is a souvenir shop before the exit on the bottom floor of the castle. We did not spend much time there because we realized our tour bus was about to leave without us. It would have been a $26-taxi ride back to our cruise ship if we had gotten left behind.I cannot say Craigdarroch Castle is a must-see for every visitor to Victoria. I recommend it mainly for people who enjoy antique furniture, woodwork, and history. I enjoyed seeing the castle and thought an hour visit was adequate for my level of interest.
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