Casa Loma: Fairyland in Toronto City

Every girl dreams of being a princess and living in a castle, and I am no exception. I have always been fascinated by the stunning architecture of these medieval castles. Not only do they evoke a sense of grandiose luxury and wealth, but also a sense of mystery and the dream of a fairytale. My inner urge to visit a picturesque castle grew stronger day after day (even more so after watching Game of Thrones!). Finally, last month, we got the opportunity to visit Casa Loma, North America’s only full-sized castle!Casa Loma Toronto

Casa Loma, Spanish for “Hill House,” is Toronto’s premier historic attraction. This majestic medieval castle attracts thousands of visitors, both local and international, each year with its sheer beauty and charm. Moreover, its unique Gothic Revival style and everlasting allure have made it a highly desirable location for film, television and photoshoots. Do you know that X-Men, Chicago, The Tuxedo and several other blockbuster movies were filmed in Casa Loma?

Casa Loma Toronto

The Story Behind Casa Loma

Living in a castle was not only a dream for Sir Henry Pellatt, it was a dream come true. Sir Henry Pellatt was a wealthy and prestigious man who founded the Toronto Electric Light Company in 1883. He was also heavily invested in numerous businesses and eventually enjoyed healthy profits from his investments. In 1911, armed with a fortune of $17 m, he began the construction of his dream castle with the help of famous Canadian architect E. J. Lennox. This 200,000-square-foot castle took 300 men 3 years to complete, at a cost of $3.5 m (at the time)!

Casa Loma Toronto

With a total of 98 rooms in house, Casa Loma was the largest private residence in Canada at that time. Sir Henry Pellatt decorated his home with artwork he gathered from around the world and used large rooms to accommodate his busy social calendar and grand parties. Isn’t it shocking that the Pellatts would need as many as 50 servants to keep the house in order for the guests?!

Casa Loma Toronto-53

Unfortunately, the Pellatts soon fell heavily in debt to the bank and suffered financial misfortune. Facing bankruptcy, they clearly could no longer sustain all the spendings of the noble castle. (A little trivia: property tax on the mansion was $1,000 a month, fuel costs were $15,000 a year, and the total annual cost of servicing the property was $22,000!!) In late 1923, the city seized the castle for backed taxes and the Pellatts relocated to their farm north of Toronto. In 1924, Sir Henry Pellat had no choice but to auction off many of their lavish possessions for rock-bottom prices in an effort to cover his debts.

For a brief period of time, Casa Loma was converted into a luxury hotel and then a nightclub, before leasing to Kiwanis Club of West Toronto as a tourist attraction in 1937. Today, The City of Toronto remains the sole owner of this site while Liberty Entertainment Group becomes the new operator.

Exploring Casa Loma

The castle houses 98 decorated suites, a beautiful conservatory, secret passages, an 800-foot tunnel, stables, a 5-acre estate gardens and many more! You can easily spend 3~4 hours here, admiring its grandeur, learning about its history, and enjoying the wonderful views of the castle. Below I will showcase some of the beautiful photos I captured on my visit:

Lower Level

The enormous wine cellar located on the lower level was used to keep 1800 bottles of wine and champagne chilled. On the same level, there is an 800-foot underground tunnel that leads to the castle’s stables, antique car exhibit an horticultural shed.

Wine cellar of Casa Loma Toronto

Wine Cellar

Antique car exhibit at Casa Loma Toronto

Antique Car Exhibit

Underground tunnel at Casa Loma Toronto

Underground Tunnel

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Main Level

The main level is divided into various sections, including the Great Hall with a 60-feet high ceiling, the Conservatory with a domed glass ceiling and Italian marble floors, the Library that holds around 10,000 books, as well as the Dining Room, Serving Room, Smoking Room, Oak Room, Billiard Room, and Sir Pellatt’s Study.

at Casa Loma Toronto

Great Hall

Corridor at Casa Loma Toronto

Corridor was one of the locations where X-men Series was filmed

Dining Room at Casa Loma Toronto

Dining Room

Fountain in the Conservatory at Casa Loma Toronto

Fountain in the Conservatory

Second Level

On the second floor, you will find elegant and richly decorated bedroom suites, the Round Room, and the Windsor Room which was built in hopes of accommodating the Royal Family one day.

Lady Pellatt's Suite at Casa Loma Toronto

Lady Pellatt’s Suite

Sir Pellatt's Room at Casa Loma Toronto

Sir Pellatt’s Room

Round Room at Casa Loma Toronto

Round Room

Third Level

The third floor is mainly used to showcase the collection of medals, uniforms and weapons. Given that Sir Henry Pellatt was a military man and a dedicated supporter of the Queen’s Won Rifles, this is not all too surprising. My favourite was the stairs leading to the top of the observation towers. The passage could be a little eerie, but when you reach the top, the view is stunning!

@CasaLomaToronto is a fairyland in #Toronto city! #travel @SeeTorontoNow @OntarioTravel Click To Tweet
Observation Tower at Casa Loma Toronto

Observation Tower

Toronto Skyline from Casa Loma Toronto

Toronto Skyline

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Outdoor Garden

Aside from the splendid castle, the 5-acre beautifully maintained gardens is another main attraction you must not miss. Open from May through October, the gardens feature colourful rhododendrons, decorative grasses along with sculptures and fountains. It could be a charming location to hold a wedding celebration!

Estate Gardens at Casa Loma Toronto

Estate Gardens

Fountain at Casa Loma Toronto

Fountain


Casa Loma is truly a magnificent site. I could see why it remains a lasting architectural, historical and tourism legacy. I’m sure it is not comparable to the beautiful castles in Europe, but it is undeniably a fairyland in the middle of a city! Even if you’re not into history, the majestic architecture provides a fantastic backdrop for photoshoot!

Tips – Making the Most of Your Visit

Tour this stunning Gothic Revival castle with the aid of multimedia, multi-language audio guide and a short documentary on Sir Henry Pellatt, the cost of which are all included in the admission price ($25 for adults). You can pick up the audio guide on the lower level, right besides the gift shop. The documentary is showed in the Billiard Room on the main floor.

About Casa Loma

Website: http://www.casaloma.org/
Address: 1 Austin Terrace, Toronto, Ontario
CityPass: http://www.citypass.com/toronto  (Casa Loma is one of the 5 attracctions included in CityPass)

When visiting Toronto, you cannot miss out on Casa Loma, the only real full-size castle in North America!

Toronto Hidden Gem Casa Loma

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68 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. How beautiful! 😀 I must say that I am a bit jealous of that wine cellar!

  2. How cool!! That looks fab. Sending this post to a friend who’s visiting there now…

  3. Every time I visit Toronto, I think of visiting Casa Loma but for some reason, I never make it.
    It’s stunning. Thanks for the tour!

  4. Grand castle and the interiors look terrific.
    Obviously would require several helping hands to maintain the place and the visitors! Making a note of the place, though not sure when Canada will happen in my life!

  5. Casa Loma looks awesome! What a fabulous place to visit. I love castles too… and that wine cellar is a dream 🙂

  6. I had no idea a place like this existed in Toronto.  The story behind the castle is interesting.  I wonder how much money those 3.5 M would be today.  I like castles too and knowing this is North America’s only full size one, I would have to make an effort to visit.

  7. It would be a great photo shoot. The exterior of the castle is so fanciful and I love the size of that wine cellar!

  8. I visited Casa Loma years ago. I remember being really impressed but couldn’t recall a lot of details. Your photos helped refresh my memory. So cool, something you don’t think of being in North America.

  9. That would be such a great hotel! I can not imagine having a home that large- I’m hoping to down size to a tiny cabin one day:)

  10. I am right there with you, I love visiting castles and love to see how people used to live back in those days. I have to admit though that I would have loved to go to a night club in a location like that. That must have been really cool back in the day.

  11. Wow, this is totally unreal! And kind of crazy that you can see the city from it!

  12. Haven’t been there in so long but this brought back memories and reminded me that it might be time to visit again. Thanks for sharing the lovely review.

  13. This castle is a great attraction to visit! I enjoyed reading your article. Pictures are great too!

  14. Wow I never realized that there was a full-sized castle in North America, let alone such a gorgeous one! That wine stellar looks incredible no wonder it took three years to build!

  15. Love this. I went to Casa Loma a few years ago with my friend, but it was winter and a few of the outdoor things (like the gardens) were closed. I’d love to go back and see Casa Loma again in the spring or fall.

    Also not sure if you’ve been to Victoria, but there’s a castle (well really just a fancy mansion) there called Craigdarroch Castle. It’s not quite as big as Casa Loma, but it’s pretty neat to check out if you’re in the area.

  16. I’ve never heard of this little castle! What a very interesting read! It reminds me of Hearst Castle in California which was also built by a rich man who was invested in many companies. Although, to me it looks like a very big mansion whereas this one actually has the look and feel of a castle! #TheWeeklyPostcard

  17. If I am visiting a new place and there are castles anywhere near, I make sure to add it to the itinerary. Love all the history that comes with a castle.

  18. Medieval castles are indeed the stuff that dreams are made of. They transport you back in time to another fairyland world on the wings of imagination. the Casa Loma looks fascinating .

  19. This place is amazing! Another place to add to my list when I move to Canada ☺

  20. That castle looks incredible! I never would have thought it was in Toronto either!

  21. I have a cousin in Toronto, so next time I’ll be in town I’ll make sure to visit Casa Loma. It’s quite my kind of place. We all dreamed of being princesses when we were young.

    • That’s nice! Now you have so many more places to visit next time when you’re in Toronto 🙂 Let me know when you visit, maybe we will be able to arrange a meet up!

  22. This looks incredible! I’ve been to a few European and it’s definitely comparable (in my humble opinion) 🙂 That wine cellar is really something else, and I think I recognise a few locations from the X-Men films. It would be so exciting to see it in real life! I love wandering around old castles/palaces/castles like this. It’s like taking a step back in time. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • On the lower level, there is a movie gallery where they have posters of movies that were filmed there! Also, there is a video showing which scene was filmed in which room. Thanks for stopping by, Michelle!

  23. I absolutely love castles for the history and tales that they contain – I can’t say I’ve ever dreamed of being a princess though haha!

  24. Okay, I must admit that my favorite picture is of the wine cellar :). I’m guessing that Sir Pellatt was an extrovert?.  I couldn’t imagine com Imy home to a staffnot 50.  Thanks for the peak into the castle and its history! #weekendeanderlust

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  26. I loved reading your post. I’ll be visiting Toronto for the first time in September and I’m excited to add Casa Loma to my itinerary!

  27. What a fabulous attraction this is, and so unique to the area. I found the history you outlined quite interesting and thankfully the city did preserve and maintain the city to the point where people may enjoy it today. Love your description as well as the lovely photos.

  28. I was just in Toronto but didn’t get to visit Casa Loma! Your photos and historic description are really well written, and laid out, making it an easy and enjoyable read! I’ll definitely bookmark this on my next visit to the Queen’s City!

  29. Wow! It looks spectacular! I had no idea this existed in Toronto. It reminds me so much of Adare in Ireland. I cannot even imagine living in such luxury.

  30. The perfect post for Canadas birthday. It is absolutely beautiful here. The castles are like something from a movie

  31. I’ve never heard of Casa Loma but it’s such a picturesque castle, I love it’s medieval style, it could be in Europe! There is a very interesting history to the castle, it must have been awful and stressful for Sir Henry Pellatt losing such a majestic castle and having to sell his possessions for nothing. I do wonder what it was like here when it was a nightclub, the 70’s / 80’s would have been a good decade for this.

  32. Whoa! It very much reminds me of English castles with all those Gothic structures, towers and underground tunnels! That too with the rooms in the 2nd floor, being termed as Windsor Rooms, its just so Royal and Majestic with so much of English influence!

  33. Ah I love castles too! And would like to be a princess too eheh 😉 I just visited in France the Loire valley where there are so many wonderful castles! I think you would love there too 🙂

  34. When I lived in Columbus Ohio, I would to travel around looking for castles. My first wife was a castle fanatic and, being 18 year old kids, we didn’t have the budget to just fly to Europe. Had I have known that Casa Loma existed then, I could have totally made her day. If she was a better person, or I wasn’t so trivial and malicious, I would send her this link now so she could finally visit a castle. This looks like a beautiful and unique attraction.

  35. Wow. I didn’t know North America has a real castle! I though it is only a European thing. The sheer scale and size of this castle is so awe inspiring. 50 servants sounds like overstaffing, but then a castle with 98 rooms would need that.

  36. This castle is so beautiful! I love their wine cellar especially. Only could dream and wish that I have a place like this…

  37. Wow I didn’t know there was a full-size castle in North America! This place looks amazing and so fun to explore. 98 suites is impressive – sounds like it would take a full day just to wander around all the rooms and the beautiful gardens. What a cool place to visit!

  38. Casa Loma is SO beautiful! I didn’t even know there were castles in Toronto! Its so GRAND and I love the chandeliers and the fountains!

  39. ah yes I recognized a few of these locations from X-Men!  I wish I had that wine cellar in our home! The wine cellar itself is bigger than our entire apartment haha

  40. WOW I envy you so much. I mean who wouldn’t want to stay in a castle. Thats’ like a dream. You are so lucky to have stayed at Casa Loma, which happens to be in the middle of the city. It looks so pretty .

  41. The rooms look so lavish! I can’t believe this was a private residence. I love stumbling onto grand castles incidentally! 

  42. Henry Pellatt seems like a fancy man haha. 50 servants – no biggie for a castle like that. The interiors are just beautiful, I love everything about this castle – especially the fountains.

  43. Looks amazing we love castles and recently stayed in one for the night in Poland an experience we will never forget. This Castle looks amazing and a tie in with popular culture movies make it more attractive. If we are ever in this part of the world we will visit for sure.

  44. I’ve been to Toronto a few times; how did I not know about Casa Loma? I would love to see it and explore a few of its 98 rooms; and the view of the skyline from the observation tower is incredible. Note; depending on how you define “castle,” Casa Loma isn’t necessarily the only full-sized one in North America. Hearst Castle in California, although built in a much different architectural style, contains a comparable amount of square footage in the main building and a couple of very cool-looking swimming pools.

  45. I went here with my family many years back, when my daughters were much younger. I remember that I bought a snowglobe for one of them and the other girl decided to see what would happen if she threw it in the restrooms. Safe to say, there was quite a mess.

  46. Casa Loma looks beautiful. It’s funny how so many historical buildings are built by people who I would deem to be eccentric. The fact he had so many servants just enforce this perception further.

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