From Europe to Japan, the beauty and grandeur of the world’s castles has inspired travellers for centuries. Here are 10 of the most fascinating castles to captivate your imagination and inspire your next trip.
When you picture a fairy-tale castle, what do you see in your mind’s eye? Is it a graceful structure on a wooded mountain, buttresses sweeping up out of the trees, adorned with delicate towers? Neuschwanstein Castle is this very fantasy brought to life. King Ludwig II of Bavaria built the dreamlike castle as a retreat from the stresses and concerns of real-world politics. Located in Schwangau, Germany, it is one of the most popular castles in Europe.
2: Bran Castle
From fairy-tales to horror stories, Bran Castle is very different to King Ludwig’s confections. It is a real mediaeval fortress, built in the 14th century. Bran Castle is inextricably associated with its most famous resident: Vlad III, also known as Vlad Dracula. This mediaeval ruler was the basis for Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula. Situated in Bran, Romania, the castle is a magnet for history buffs and horror fans alike.
3: Edinburgh Castle
This mighty castle is one of the best-preserved in the UK. It stands above the city of Edinburgh in Scotland, tall and imposing. The site has been occupied by humans since the Iron Age, and has been fortified for centuries. Visitors can explore the ancient site with its many surviving buildings and fascinating historic artefacts.
Gondershe is perhaps the most famous landmark in Somalia. The medieval fortified complex is located on a cliff overlooking the sea, southwest of Mogadishu. Gondershe still houses a town, Lower Shabelle. Tourists flock there to marvel at the coral stone houses and other fine examples of traditional Somali architecture.
5: Château de Chambord
The Château de Chambord is located in the scenic region of Chambord, France. It’s an outstanding example of French Renaissance architecture and one of the most magnificent structures left by the French monarchy. The original intent was for the Château to be a hunting retreat for King François I. Although the king found the residence too elaborate for his needs, it remains a profound influence on the French architectural tradition.
6: Castel del Monte
The Castel del Monte is a fascinating and mysterious structure. Located in the remote region of Andria, Italy, the Castel del Monte is a remarkable example of mediaeval architecture. Its octagonal layout, with an eight-sided tower at each corner, suggests some mystical geometric significance. The Castel del Monte is now one of the most popular landmarks in the whole of the southern Italian region.
7: Himeji Castle
Japan boasts a number of fascinating and beautiful castles, each with its own captivating history. Himeji Castle stands out among them all, however, due to its great beauty and sophisticated architecture. Himeji Castle is known as the White Heron Castle, with its white facades and graceful lines suggesting a bird about to take flight. Although it was devised as a fortress and has many cunning and intriguing defensive features, Himeji Castle was never actually used in war and became instead the stately residence of the local Japanese nobility.
8: Frederiksborg Castle
Denmark’s Frederiksborg Castle lies on three islands in the the Castle Lake, Hillerød. The palace was rebuilt following its destruction by a fire in 1859, which left only the castle’s Audience Chamber and chapel intact. The reconstruction was successful and the palace now stands in all its former glory. The royal family ceased to use Frederiksborg Castle as a residence in the latter part of the 1800s, and it became the Museum of National history. Today, the museum is world-famous for its collection of historical exhibits. You can view paintings, portraits of historic figures, and of course the castle interiors. A stroll through the elegant grounds with their elaborate knot gardens is also highly recommended.
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