Here at Secret City Adventures we’re lucky enough to run some great escape room games in Toronto’s iconic castle Casa Loma. Seen here while still under construction in 1913 complete with horse and (sort of) carriage, it’s a classic “fairy tale castle”… but where did this concept actually come from?

Casa Loma in 1913

It’s often said that the Victorian’s invented childhood, and that’s certainly when fairy tales first made their impact on the world.

Originally published by the Grimm brothers in 1812, the first book of fairy tales was released in Germany under the title Children’s and Household Tales. The collection is now more commonly known as Grimms’ Fairy Tales, and with the 86 stories in the first volume, and 70 following in 1815, the fairy tale genre was born.

Although many potential classics-in-the-making, like The Magic Porridge Pot, The Devil and his Grandmother and Hans My Hedgehog, are now largely forgotten, the books also featured some classic beloved stories including Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel.

An important sub-genre featured princesses as protagonists, like Rapunzel, Snow White and, perhaps the most famous of them all, Cinderella. Filmmakers of the 20th century would later turn these stories into the visual vocabulary of childhood with the image of the perfect castle always being a key component.

Probably the most famous and enduring interpretation of the fairy tale castle is that of Disney, which is popularly considered to have been modelled on Neuschwanstein Castle (seen below). Built on a rugged hill in southwest Bavaria in the ‘Castle Romanticism’ style of the mid-19th century, obvious similarities can be seen. From the characteristic tall turrets to the white limestone facade, the picturesque features would be replicated time and again as the fairy tale castle became firmly embedded in popular culture.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Back in Toronto, less than 30 years after the German castle was finished, Sir Henry Pellatt would begin work on a building which would become a landmark on the city’s skyline and firm favourite of locals and tourists alike – Casa Loma!

This traditional venue is now the proud home of three of our completely unique escape games, each with their own historical twist! But while the location might be something out of a fairy tale, will you be able to escape Casa Loma and live happily ever after?