Atalaya Castle

Standing among swaying palms, Atalaya Castle feels desolate at first glance. However, take the time to tour intricate gardens and sweeping courtyards and this winter home of industrialist Archer and Anna Huntington begins to come alive.

The one-story square mansion features thirty rooms arranged around a central courtyard. The house takes its name from the water tower that rises forty feet tall and resembles a watchtower. Read on to know more.

What to Expect

There is a lot to see at Atalaya Castle in Murrells Inlet SC. It is a great attraction for families who want to learn about the history of the area and make some magical memories together.

Nature lovers will enjoy the park’s freshwater lake and the chance to see loggerhead turtles and other plant and animal species. Art lovers come in droves to attend the annual Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival.

It is recommended that you wear comfortable shoes and bring water to drink during your visit to Atalaya. You will be walking on various surfaces, including grass and gravel paths. The castle is located within Huntington Beach State Park which has a stretch of one of the most clean and beautiful beaches on the Grand Strand.

The History

Atalaya Castle is a national historic landmark and an impressive sight to see. It was built in 1931 and 1933 as the winter home of Archer and Anna Huntington, industrialists and philanthropists. They chose the location to help Anna recover from her tuberculosis.

The imposing structure was designed by Archer in Moorish Revival and Mediterranean Revival styles using designs from Spanish Andalusian coast models. The single-story square structure features thirty rooms spread out along three walls surrounding a central courtyard. The center of the courtyard has a water tower that stands 40 feet high.

A wrought iron fence surrounds the castle and has bars covering most of the windows, which was typical of European castles during that time. Today, the castle is surrounded by trees and sits right beside the beach parking lot inside Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet. Check it out here.

The Courtyard

The castle itself is right beside the parking area for public beach access within Huntington Beach State Park on U.S. 17. It’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of the busiest highway along South Carolina’s coast.

Built from 1931 to 1933, this winter home for Archer and Anna was designed by Archer with Moorish and Mediterranean Revival architecture styles from Spanish Andalusian coast models. It features thirty rooms with enclosed open-air spaces and service areas around a central courtyard planted with grass and palmetto palms.

The castle is open for self-guided tours and admission is included in the park’s entry fee. Money raised through these admission fees goes to a local non-profit group that helps maintain the property. There’s also an art festival held there every September.

The Interior

Located inside Huntington Beach State Park, the castle is a perfect Southern wedding venue and the site of an amazing annual arts and crafts festival! It was originally the winter home of industrialist Archer Huntington and his wife, famous sculptor Anna Hyatt. The couple’s passion for Moorish and Mediterranean architecture was reflected in the design of the building.

The one-story square house contains rooms along three sides of the interior courtyard with the 40-foot tower in the center from which it gets its name, Atalaya (Spanish for watchtower). The interiors are empty leaving visitors to imagine how the rooms would have looked when they were filled with art and furniture.

Atalaya Castle is open for tours during the year. However, due to the large events and weddings hosted here throughout the year, it may be closed in correspondence with these events.

The Servants Quarters

Atalaya is open for tours throughout the year. The castle also hosts a variety of events and is available for weddings.

It is a fascinating and captivating place to explore, but it can take a while since the tour involves walking on various surfaces including gravel paths and sandy areas. It is a good idea to wear comfortable footwear and bring water and snacks as needed.

Anna and Archer Huntington built Atalaya in 1931-33 as a winter house. The thirty rooms were arranged around an inner courtyard and dominated by a tower that held a 3,000-gallon water tank, thus the name Atalaya, meaning “watchtower” in Spanish. The couple’s living quarters, art studio, and other rooms opened into the courtyard. The walls were covered with fig vines and Sabal palmettos. Next blog post.



Driving directions from Bird Dog Power Washing to Atalaya Castle

Driving directions from Atalaya Castle to Lowcountry Zoo

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