We at Travel-SE are having an ongoing tag reorganization, and we're trying to find a collective term that encompasses the following:

  • castles
  • châteaux (which are really castles, but not every castle is a château)
  • palaces
  • forts
  • citadels
  • country houses (which are really palaces, but for non-royals)

We'd appreciate if you guys can come up with an appropriate category that covers these all. We don't want to create separate tags because frankly people won't know the difference between these and won't care.

We were thinking of fortified-structures or palatial-structures, but these don't work quite well. residences is just too broad, and royal-residences is not correct since country houses were not used by royal figures.

Any other ideas?

  • 2
    landmarks, maybe Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 9:17
  • 1
    @Autoresponder: landmarks is so broad that it can cover anything. Not very useful for our purposes, we're looking for more narrow tag. Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 9:19
  • 5
    What about castles-etc.?
    – user13141
    Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 9:33
  • 5
    Unreal Estate/Imperial Bricks :-) Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 9:46
  • 1
    @onomatomaniak, you should put "castles-etc" in an answer so we can vote it up. Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 15:44

10 Answers 10


After looking at wikipedia entries for castles and fortifications, I can see that there are many technical historical-architectural terms which are very precise and detailed.

1st option The encompassing term might be fortifications. This is technically probably a bit wide as it would include military constructs which people do not inhabit and might (technically) miss some of the buildings you are trying to describe. (You might go with fortified historical residences or some such term)

2nd option On the other hand, depending on technical correctness you are aiming for, pragmatically and simply castles might be a good tag (you can explain in the tags summary that it also includes citadels, stately homes, etc.. )

Both the term castle and fortification are taken from this paragraph in wikipedia:

Castle is sometimes used as a catch-all term for all kinds of fortifications, and as a result has been misapplied in the technical sense. An example of this is Maiden Castle which, despite the name, is an Iron Age hill fort, which had a very different origin and purpose. Although "castle" has not become, like chateau in French and schloss in German, a generic term for an English country house, many of these use the word in their name while having few if any of the architectural characteristics...

3rd option

Combining common characteristics of the terms that you want to describe

  • Historical private residences (is it really necessary to say private, I wonder)
  • Historical or fortified residences

Finally, I am not a historian nor an architect, so maybe asking in a more specialized environment might yield technically more appropriate result (wikipedia discussion page?).

  • 3
    +1 for fortified residences I think it captures the general style of the buildings the OP mentions plus the common aspect of their intended purpose, which is to house people.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 13:05
  • 1
    @Kitḫ, that was the idea, only issue is that palaces and country houses are not necessarily fortified.
    – Unreason
    Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 13:10
  • 1
    I think most people who are not well-versed in buildings of this sort think of all of them as "castles" (option 2 here). Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 15:45
  • 2
    This looks a lot like what I would have answered (+1). I think of the given options, I'd probably go with castles for a tag just for the sake of brevity. Someone going on a "castle tour" probably wouldn't be too horribly bummed or surprised to hit a country house or two. You can of course explain the tag's intended coverage in its FAQ.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 16:44
  • @Kith - A palace is necessarily NOT fortified. If it was, it would be a castle. Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 19:02

Does "Stately homes and castles" cover it? Or even just "Stately homes"?

  • +1: I think this encompasses it all pretty nicely, avoiding the odd connotations of some suggestions above
    – Reid
    Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 21:53

These tend to be referred to as historic buildings or sometimes the broader term ancient monuments. Of course those terms aren't precisely what you're looking for, since both terms can include buildings not on your list - an ancient barn, full of history, could be counted as an historic building or ancient monument - and equally if a palace was built right now it wouldn't be counted as either term (although it would, as Barrie points out, most likely be of architectural interest).

In Britain, the terms historic building and ancient monument have legal implications:

Historical buildings are:

ancient buildings, traditional settlements, old towns and streets and other historical and cultural remains that contain historical and cultural values, but have yet to be designated as ancient monuments.

Ancient monuments are:

either Scheduled Ancient Monuments or "any other monument which in the opinion of the Secretary of State is of public interest by reason of the historic, architectural, traditional, artistic or archaeological interest attaching to it"

Perhaps something like historical residences fits the bill?

  • There's a castle in Tullamore which I wouldn't think of as an ancient monument. It dates from the 1790s, which is hardly "ancient". An ancient monument is something like Newgrange.
    – TRiG
    Commented Nov 10, 2011 at 13:16
  • Ancient monuments in UK government parlance typically refers to things which aren't habitable such as standing stones, ruins, archaeological digs, or memorials, excluding palaces, castles, etc, that are in good condition.
    – Stuart F
    Commented May 21 at 12:48

How about castles-etc.? It strikes me as unambiguous and simple.

  • +1 It's ambiguous in that anything could be in the etc., but the official list should be clearly shown in the tag wiki.
    – Hugo
    Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 19:33
  • While I think I'd still lean toward just plain castles, this is worth consideration because it doesn't add too much length, while providing a bit of protection against misunderstanding.
    – John Y
    Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 23:20

Other than "buildings", I don't see what these have in common. Castles, forts, and citadels would all be fortifications, but "palaces" and "country houses" certainly would not. Most of your list are big, impressive structures, but again, "country houses" and "chateaux" are not.

The only connection I see is that they are all buildings that you consider interesting. Maybe something like "picturesque buildings"? Possibly "historic buildings" if that's what you're driving at.


They are all - are they not? - buildings of historical and architectural interest?

  • 1
    Yeah, that's not bad, but I was hoping for something a bit shorter.. buildings-of-historical-and-architectural-interest is hardly a good tag name. Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 9:10
  • 1
    Plus, it would also cover cathedrals and churches, and we want to keep them separate. Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 9:13
  • 2
    'Secular monuments'? One of the OED's definitions of 'monument' is 'A structure, edifice, or (in later use also) site of historical interest or importance.' Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 9:27
  • 1
    I don't think it's ultra important to distinguish cathedrals and churches at this level. We have five tag slots so we could have both tags and some people would use one or the other and some use both. Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 9:30
  • @jwpat7: Thanks, now corrected. (If it's any excuse, I'm having to type with one hand bandaged at the moment.) Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 18:36

I am wondering if perhaps dogged determination to include all of those structures in one tag is a bit of a stretch. In particular, as some have commented, castle implies fortification while palace tends to imply size or opulence without much emphasis on fortification.

Further, even when cities or large structures in Asia are fortified, they tend to be referred to as palaces anyway, rather than castles. Personally, I would find it weird to tag the Forbidden City under castles.

Therefore, my recommendation would be to have two separate tags, castles and palaces, even though they overlap and will often be used together.


The collective term that encompasses ALL of these may actually be the word hold. Military fortifications are strongholds and residential palaces are households (a term that has been watered down as living standards increased for the average family). The word household means the hold (base/estate/whatever) of a house (as in family*).

At least that's what a few minutes of googling produced.

* "the Johnson family" could be written as "the house of Johnson", just to help anyone who don't know the "old" way of saying things. house (n) Meaning "family, including ancestors and descendants, especially if noble" is from c.1000. source


Stately Structures

Some of the other answers are good, but I believe this is the catchiest which makes it good for a tag. Just look at it...


Damn, that's nice.


That depends. Technically, all these categories of building can be fortified (Yes, palaces and mansions can be fortified)

Castles, palaces, mansions and chateaux are dwellings, their primary purpose was as homes for royalty, nobility and in later centuries, business magnates \ tycoons.

Forts on the other hand, have no real domestic component. They're strictly military bases.

"Castle" has been broadened to refer to any luxury residence or fortification, though it's most properly used to denote the heavily fortified residences of medieval Europe or feudal Japan. The term is also applicable to dwellings with some of the architectural characteristics often associated with medieval castles, like battlements and towers.

The term "chateau" can refer to any French or French style upper class home, whether it's a castle, palace, or mansion.

A country house in British English is a mansion located on a large piece of land in a rural area. The terms "manor house", "stately home" and fortificacthe" are synonyms.

"Palace" officially refers to an official residence of a country's ruler, or the leaders of the country's administrative divisions (AKA, states, provinces and their equivalents in other countries). But almost any grand house can be called a "palace",and architecturally speaking, there are private residences that are basically palaces.

A fort is a purely military fortification, containing no residential facilities except large open dorm rooms for the soldiers, as well as the auxiliary spaces, like mess hall and kitchen.

A citadel is a fortification located in or directly adjacent to a city, typically to domineer over the city and\or to serve as a final refuge for the denizens in case the city walls were breached. The citadel could also be the home of whoever was administering the city, in which case, the citadel was also a castle.

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