Europe's most beautiful castles



Slide 1 of 61: Europe is peppered with incredible castles, spanning centuries and architectural styles, and each with their own fascinating stories. From fairy-tale fantasies come to life to great Gothic structures perched on hilltops and everything else in between, these are Europe's most beautiful castles.
Slide 2 of 61: The first historical record of the De Haar Castle in Utrecht is from 1391, but the castle that stands today was rebuilt in 1892. Etienne Gustave Frédéric Baron van Zuylen van Nyevelt van de Haar inherited the castle and spent 20 years restoring it with the backing of his wife’s family, the Rothschilds.
Slide 3 of 61: De Haar’s interior is decorated with richly ornamented woodcarving, mirroring Roman Catholic design at the time, and there are 200 rooms and 30 bathrooms. The interior also features items from the Rothschilds' collections, including porcelain from Japan and China as well as Flemish tapestry and paintings. The castle is situated in beautiful parkland with meticulously landscaped gardens.
Slide 4 of 61: As castles go, Bran is probably one of the spookiest. The medieval fortress in Transylvania became known as Dracula’s castle, despite Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, never having visited Romania. Today the castle, with its eerie turrets and stunning hilltop location, remains synonymous with the legendary vampire. 

Slide 5 of 61: The castle is now used to exhibit furniture and artifacts collected by Romania’s late Queen Maria. However, in 2016 two vampire fans became the first people to spend the night in Bran Castle after winning an Airbnb competition. The Canadian siblings slept in velvet lined coffins and despite some people’s fears, they survived the night.
Slide 6 of 61: Downton Abbey might be set in a fictional Yorkshire country estate of the same name, but the Jacobean Revival-style building really does exist in real life. Highclere Castle, used for the exterior shots in the TV series and film, was built in the 19th century by architect Charles Barry. The 5,000-acre estate is actually located in Hampshire, close to the town of Newbury in Berkshire.
Slide 7 of 61: Many scenes were also filmed inside, so fans might recognize the rather grand entryway with its sweeping staircase and intricate internal balconies. The country estate actually belongs to Earl and Countess Carnarvon. The castle’s 200-plus rooms are filled with antiques and enchanting details, such as the frescoed ceiling in the Music Room. The incredibly detailed scenes, painted by Francis Hayman in 1740, depict Athena, goddess of war, wisdom and the arts.
Slide 8 of 61: One of Switzerland's most popular historic sites, the picture-perfect Chillon Castle nestles on an island on the edge of Lake Geneva. The castle dates back to the 11th century and it served as the summer residence for the Counts of Savoy from the 1200s until the 16th century, when it was converted into a prison, though a jail existed in the castle from the 13th century onwards.
Slide 9 of 61: The prison was known to be particularly notorious and François de Bonivard is its best-known prisoner. Immortalized in Lord Byron's poem, The Prisoner of Chillon, the devout scholar was imprisoned for his heretical Protestant beliefs. As the poem goes, he remained there for six years chained to a pillar, however, in reality, it was only six months.

Slide 10 of 61: The first historical record of this imposing fort's existence dates to the 12th century, but the majority of the construction was probably completed by King Philip II in the 1500s. Rising high above the city of Segovia, it's best known for its unusual design. The Alcázar is shaped like the bow of a ship.
Slide 11 of 61: The breathtaking building has been used as the royal court, a prison and a military college throughout its long life, and today it serves as an artifact-packed museum. The Hall of the Galley (pictured) is in-keeping with the ship theme of the Alcázar, since it's designed in the shape of an inverted ship hull.
Slide 12 of 61: The largest and oldest occupied castle in the world, Windsor Castle has been the family home to British monarchs for over a thousand years, and it’s still so special that Queen Elizabeth II spends most of her private weekends there. Originally developed by William the Conqueror in around 1070, it’s also the final resting place of many monarchs including Henry VIII, Charles I and George V.
Slide 13 of 61: Several areas of the castle are open to visitors year-round though, but, since it's a working royal residence, it may at times be closed for special events with little forward notice. For example, the castle's St George's Chapel was the venue for the recent wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, followed by a reception in St George's Hall.
Slide 14 of 61: Dramatic Predjama Castle is tucked within the mouth of a cave in Slovenia, and it's almost difficult to see where the rock ends and the weather-worn fortress begins. This dramatic 13th-century structure, jutting out from a 404-foot-high (123m) cliff, is rumored to have influenced George R.R. Martin, the author whose novels inspired hit TV series Game of Thrones.

Slide 15 of 61: It's hailed as the largest cave castle in the world by Guinness World Records, with a tangle of medieval-style rooms and a complex network of caverns opening out below it. Legend has it, a knight named Erasmus of Lueg took over the castle in the 15th century and used a series of intricate cave tunnels to steal from the rich and give to the poor, just like Robin Hood. A servant eventually betrayed him, leading to his death.
Slide 16 of 61: King Ludwig II of Bavaria built Neuschwanstein Castle in the 19th century to use as a private retreat from public life. Unsurprisingly its dreamy towers and turrets, which could have been plucked straight from a fairy tale, served as inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle in California.
Slide 17 of 61: Despite its old-world design, it was extremely modern upon its completion, with central heating and even a telephone line. Nevertheless, its interiors show Ludwig's desire to escape into a world inspired by the operas of German composer Richard Wagner, of whom the King was a devoted fan and patron. Much of the art inside depicts the kings, poets and knights that appear in the composer’s work.
Slide 18 of 61: Prague Castle is quite the feat. Covering an area of around 750,000 square feet (69,677sqm), the complex is one of the largest of its kind in the world, home to Gothic-style St Vitus Cathedral, as well as several other churches. Dating from the 9th century, the site acts like an architectural textbook for the last millennium and, unsurprisingly, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Slide 19 of 61: Stunning halls and staterooms fill the castle, brimming with Rococo details, vast fireplaces and priceless paintings. The Rudolph Gallery (pictured) is one of the most striking of them all, with its great arches, chandeliers and mirrors. It was first built in the 16th century, but the stuccos you can see here were only added in the 19th.
Slide 20 of 61: The formidable Malbork Castle was built in the 13th century by the Teutonic Knights, a group of German Catholic crusaders, and at the time of its completion was the largest brick castle in the world. Malbork served as a residence for the Polish royal family until it was occupied by the Swedes in the 17th century, then by the Germans during the Second World War.
Slide 21 of 61: The castle suffered severe damage during the Second World War, but at the end of the conflict, it was returned to Poland. It was then carefully restored and returned to its former glory. Today intricate vaulted ceilings, columns and museum displays hide inside its hulking brick exterior.
Slide 22 of 61: Built between 1238 and 1358, Granada's sprawling Alhambra is an impressive Moorish masterpiece. The name Alhambra comes from an Arabic phrase meaning red castle and was given due to the reddish hue of its towers and walls. It was described as "a pearl set in emeralds" by Moorish poets, referring to its location within the woods.
Slide 23 of 61: The Alhambra served as a royal palace and its exquisite gardens are home to many beautiful walkways and fountains. A fortress complex rather than a standalone building, Alhambra consists of a royal complex, including a castle, several courts and halls and a collection of outlying buildings.
Slide 24 of 61: Edinburgh Castle’s imposing battlements overlook the city’s Old Town. The castle dates back to the 12th century and has been attacked so many times that it has earned the dubious accolade of being the most besieged place in Great Britain. Today, it's one of Edinburgh's most popular attractions.
Slide 25 of 61: Many royals have called the castle home including King Malcolm III of Scotland and his wife Saint Margaret of Scotland – St. Margaret’s Chapel is a tribute to the late queen and the oldest existing part of the site. Inside, the Great Hall, built for James IV in 1511, is the palace's glorious centerpiece.
Slide 26 of 61: It might be called a palace, but it is in fact a castle, and few are so heart-flutteringly pretty as Pena Palace, whose butter-yellow turrets and brick-red towers rise above the treetops in hilly Sintra, just outside Lisbon. The multicolored beauty, an example of 19th-century Romanticism, was commissioned by King Ferdinand II and completed in 1854, and has been home to Portuguese royals through the years.
Slide 27 of 61: The exterior and grounds are filled with storybook details, from tiny gargoyles to hidden pathways weaving through forest. And the interior is equally striking and worthy of a fairy tale. The dining room and adjoining pantry, for example, have vaulted ceilings and walls covered with intricate tiles.
Slide 28 of 61: Nestled behind the pretty northeastern market town of Alnwick, this majestic medieval castle is the second largest inhabited castle in England. Alnwick has been home to the Percy family for over 700 years and is the current seat of the 12th Duke of Northumberland, Ralph Percy.
Slide 29 of 61: Inspired by the lavish buildings of Italy, the Renaissance-style state rooms feature richly decorated ceilings, carved doors and marble fireplaces. The castle also has one of the country’s most impressive private furniture and art collections with works by J. M. W. Turner, William Dobson and Canaletto.
Slide 30 of 61: Thanks to Moszna Castle's jaw-dropping 365 rooms and 99 turrets, it would be possible to spend every day in a different room over the course of a year if you pleased. Constructed in the 17th century, the castle is situated within a park covered with canals, meadows and forest too.
Slide 31 of 61: In 1945, Moszna was occupied by the Soviet Red Army leading its owners to flee to Germany. The occupation caused significant damage to Moszna’s interior furnishings, but the castle has since been restored. The opulent site was briefly used as a hospital following the Second World War, too, and today it houses an art gallery.
Slide 32 of 61: Constructed on the site of a Roman castle between the 11th and 14th centuries, this mighty fortress has a string of impressive rooms, including a dinky chapel dating to the 12th century. It has had an extremely diverse set of owners, too, ranging from the Counts of Vianden to a spice merchant.
Slide 33 of 61: The castle fell into ruin after one owner began selling it off in parts, but it was thankfully restored by the royal family in the 19th century. Members of the Luxembourg resistance even used the castle during a battle against the Nazis in 1944. Highlights today include the gorgeous wood-clad dining room (pictured).
Slide 34 of 61: Lithuania’s Trakai Island Castle occupies a stunning location in the center of Lake Galvė. The castle was built in the 14th century and is the only Gothic island castle in Europe. It has served many purposes in its lifetime going from fortress to residence to a prison. Sadly, in the 17th century, the castle was damaged in conflict and fell into disrepair.
Slide 35 of 61: The castle was reconstructed after the Second World War and completed in 1961 to its former glory, showcasing its unique architecture. The inside is as impressive as the outside too: this photo shows the stone walls and artwork of the castle's chapel. Take a look at vintage images of America's most historic attractions.
Slide 36 of 61: The turreted Glamis Castle in Scotland is teeming with more than 1,000 years of history. It was even featured in Shakespeare's play Macbeth as the home of the title character. A castle with royal roots, Glamis was also the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, whose parents were Lord and Lady Glamis. The castle was also the birthplace of her second daughter Princess Margaret, the first royal baby born in Scotland since 1600. 
Slide 37 of 61: There are some mysterious legends surrounding the property too. The best-known tale about the castle is the Monster of Glamis, a cruel name given to a disfigured child who was born into the Lyon family and was supposedly locked away in a secret chamber. The ghost of the Monster of Glamis is believed to still haunt the castle to this day.
Slide 38 of 61: This whimsical castle in Sozopol is the stuff of dreams and fairy tales, and its alternative name – In Love with the Wind – only adds to its charm. It was designed by Georgi Kostadinov Tumpalov, who worked with a team of builders to craft the medieval-style structure from 20,000 tons of stone.
Slide 39 of 61: The fantastical exterior, rich with detail and surrounded by grounds with impressive topiary, is the highlight. There’s even a zoo, art gallery and winery on the estate. The rooms and outbuildings are equally surreal, filled with taxidermy, armor and intricately carved wooden furniture.
Slide 40 of 61: Surrounded by over 500 acres of parkland, five miles (8km) southeast of Maidstone, lies the beautiful Leeds Castle. From a Norman stronghold during the 11th and 12th century to a Tudor palace, the castle has a rich past spanning centuries. In 1665, the property was leased to the government to keep Dutch prisoners of war who then set it on fire. The castle remained in a state of disrepair for around a century until 1748 when Robert Fairfax renovated it. Eventually, in 1823 new owner Wykeham Martin demolished the original main house and replaced it with one in a Tudor style. 
Slide 41 of 61: Not much has changed of the castle's exterior since then. During the 1920s, Leeds Castle underwent another makeover, this time by Anglo-American heiress Lady Baillie, who would be the property's last private owner. A 16th-century-style carved oak staircase from France was added to the castle as well as a cinema and swimming pool. Zebras and llamas were brought to the grounds. In the 1930s, the castle played host to European royalty, celebrities and statesmen, famed for its luxurious interior and Lady Baillie's lavish hospitality. 
Slide 42 of 61: Built in the mid-16th century, Egeskov Castle, on the Danish island of Funen, is one of Europe’s finest Renaissance buildings, and was originally constructed for defense purposes. During the last 400 years, it has belonged to various families who have all lived in the striking structure. Today, it’s surrounded by an impressive garden and boasts the best-preserved moat in Europe.
Slide 43 of 61: The castle is also Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle and while most of it is open to public (in fact, there are five museums within the castle), some areas are still used privately by Count Michael Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Bille and his wife Caroline, the niece of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. There are two museums, featuring vintage automobile and motorcycle collections as well as a fascinating collection on flying vehicles. Take a virtual tour of the world's most enchanting stately homes.
Slide 44 of 61: As if Slovenia's Lake Bled needed anything else to make it even more beautiful, there also happens to be a castle, overlooking the glistening water and dense forests. A medieval castle built on a precipice above the city of Bled, it's often regarded as Slovenia's oldest castle and is also one of the most visited attractions. First mentioned in writing in 1011, the castle's oldest surviving part is the Romanesque tower. Throughout the Middle Ages and during Renaissance, many improvements were added to it, making the castle a unique amalgamation of various styles.
Slide 45 of 61: There's a scenic forest trail leading its way up to the castle with some of the best views of the lake. There is now a museum within the castle, celebrating the history of Bled, from the first settlements to present day, as well as a restaurant and a wine cellar. You can also see a reconstruction of Gutenberg's printing press and regular demonstrations of how it worked and was used.
Slide 46 of 61: You might well recognize the 900-year-old Hohenwerfen Fortress: it featured in the background of famous musical The Sound of Music. First constructed around 1077, the castle has gone through many renovations over the years, from its birth as a simple wooden structure to the fortified building it is today. It has been used as everything from a stately home to a military training center and a police school, and now it's a popular tourist attraction. 
Slide 47 of 61: Standing 2,044 feet (623m) above sea level, it's a serious sight to behold. The discovery trail leads visitors through a kitchen courtyard, residential quarters and arsenal, among others, explaining what life was like in the castle when it was inhabited. For an even more thrilling experience, the castle is home to a historic regional falconry center and there are regular birds of prey shows with falcons, vultures and eagles showing off their skills several times a day, from April to November.
Slide 48 of 61: Built by the English monarch Edward I in the late 13th century, the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Conwy Castle is certainly a breathtaking construction. Its seemingly endless circuit of walls add up to nearly a mile long and are guarded by 22 towers. It has amazing views of the mountains and the sea, and plenty of family-friendly events for visitors, such as medieval-themed weekends and spooky Halloween parties.
Slide 49 of 61: The castle is part of what's known as The Ring of Iron (or Iron Ring of Castles). It was a series of fortifications and castles built to help Edward I with his conquest of Wales. He spent over $101,864 on all the castles, which is about $72 million today's money. All of these castles were tactically positioned either by the coast or rivers and provided access to provisions of food and weapons. See more reasons to love Wales here.
Slide 50 of 61: Built in the 19th century, this dreamy castle overlooks the Gulf of Trieste in northeastern Italy. Its grounds include an extensive cliff and seashore park that were designed by the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of the House of Habsburg. The castle was built for him and his family and the garden was landscaped to include tropical trees and plants. See more of the world's most beautiful gardens here.
Slide 51 of 61: Throughout the Second World War, the castle kept exchanging hands frequently. First, it was converted into a Nazi headquarters building, then New Zealand troops entered Trieste and took control of the castle in 1945, which was swiftly followed by the British taking over and finally, the Americans. After the war, the castle was renovated and opened in 1955 as a tourist attraction. Today, it's a museum with all the rooms still featuring the original furnishings, ornaments and furniture.
Slide 52 of 61: The largest Renaissance residence in Scandinavia, Frederiksborg Castle is situated to the north of Copenhagen. It was built in the early 17th century by King Christian IV. Today, it’s home to the Museum of National History, which is well worth exploring. What’s more, the castle’s old wine cellar has been converted into an area geared up for kids, with child-friendly displays and a picture trail.
Slide 53 of 61: The castle suffered a devastating fire in 1859, which ruined most of the building, however, over 300 paintings were saved and can now be seen in the castle's museum. Reconstruction was publicly funded and today 70 rooms, plus the Chapel, the Rose Room and the Audience Room are included in the museum. 
Slide 54 of 61: The ancestral seat of the imperial House of Hohenzollern, the imposing castle is located atop Mount Hohenzollern in southwestern Germany. The third castle to be built on top of the mountain, it was finished in 1867 as a family memorial. Later, in 1945 it briefly became the home of the former prince Wilhelm of Germany, son of the last Hohenzollern monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Slide 55 of 61: Today, the castle is a major tourist attraction in Germany. It holds many significant historical artifacts relating to the Prussian history, like the crown of Wilhelm II, some personal effects of King Frederick the Great and a letter from US President George Washington, thanking Baron von Steuben (a Hohenzollern descendant) for his service in the American Revolutionary War. Pictured here is the interior of St Michael's chapel, also part of the sprawling palace complex. You won't believe these stunning sights are in Germany.
Slide 56 of 61: A major Budapest landmark, the jaw-dropping Buda Castle was originally constructed in the 13th century, but the work didn’t stop there. Extensions and renovations were carried out over the next two centuries, and various refurbishments and repairs are still continuing today. It's now home to several galleries, including the Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery.
Slide 57 of 61: As there is an extensive tunnel system underneath the castle and the castle district, there are, of course, many urban myths and legends surrounding them. One story says that during the Turkish occupation women were built into the walls of the cellars and the tunnels and their cries can still be heard to this day. Another tale claims there were vampires residing beneath the tunnel, including the Black Count, believed to be Dracula himself.
Slide 58 of 61: A beguiling fairy-tale castle, Burg Eltz in Western Germany dates from the 12th century and has remained in the Eltz family for an impressive 33 generations. The wonderfully romantic castle, which sits above the Elzbach River, is iconic in Germany and was featured on the 500 Deutsche Mark note from 1965 to 1992. These are Germany's most beautiful towns and villages.
Slide 59 of 61: The castle obviously has its fair share of ghost stories, the most famous of which is the phantom of Countess Agnes. The countess was promised in marriage to the Knight of Braunsberg but during a feast to celebrate the match, she rebuffed her suitor, publicly humiliating him. Enraged by the rejection, the spurned knight organized an attack on the castle. After a valiant fight, she was struck by a crossbow and fatally injured and her ghost is said to still haunt the castle. Now discover spectacular American castles you never knew existed.
Slide 60 of 61: The picturesque Peleș Castle was constructed in the 19th century for Romanian King Carol I, who fell in love with the Carpathian Mountains and decided to build a summer retreat here. It's not a modest affair, either. The building in Sinaia, central Romania is a striking mix of Neo-Renaissance and Gothic Revival architecture.
Slide 61 of 61: There are over 170 rooms, brimming with furniture and intricate details. Some have even been decorated to reflect different cultures, from the Florentine Room to the colorful Turkish Parlor. Pictured here is the magnificent, wood-paneled dining room.

Fantastic fortresses

De Haar Castle, Netherlands

De Haar Castle, Netherlands

Bran Castle, Romania

As castles go, Bran is probably one of the spookiest. The medieval fortress in Transylvania became known as Dracula’s castle, despite Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, never having visited Romania. Today the castle, with its eerie turrets and stunning hilltop location, remains synonymous with the legendary vampire. 

Bran Castle, Romania

Highclere Castle, England, UK

Downton Abbey might be set in a fictional Yorkshire country estate of the same name, but the Jacobean Revival-style building really does exist in real life. Highclere Castle, used for the exterior shots in the TV series and film, was built in the 19th century by architect Charles Barry. The 5,000-acre estate is actually located in Hampshire, close to the town of Newbury in Berkshire.

Highclere Castle, England, UK

Chillon Castle, Switzerland

Chillon Castle, Switzerland

The prison was known to be particularly notorious and François de Bonivard is its best-known prisoner. Immortalized in Lord Byron’s poem, The Prisoner of Chillon, the devout scholar was imprisoned for his heretical Protestant beliefs. As the poem goes, he remained there for six years chained to a pillar, however, in reality, it was only six months.

Alcázar of Segovia, Spain

Alcázar of Segovia, Spain

Windsor Castle, England, UK

Windsor Castle, England, UK

Predjama Castle, Slovenia

Dramatic Predjama Castle is tucked within the mouth of a cave in Slovenia, and it’s almost difficult to see where the rock ends and the weather-worn fortress begins. This dramatic 13th-century structure, jutting out from a 404-foot-high (123m) cliff, is rumored to have influenced George R.R. Martin, the author whose novels inspired hit TV series Game of Thrones.

Predjama Castle, Slovenia

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Prague Castle, Czech Republic

Prague Castle, Czech Republic

Malbork Castle, Poland

Malbork Castle, Poland

Alhambra, Spain

Alhambra, Spain

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland, UK

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland, UK

Pena Palace, Portugal

Pena Palace, Portugal

Alnwick Castle, England, UK

Alnwick Castle, England, UK

Moszna Castle, Poland

Moszna Castle, Poland

Vianden Castle, Luxembourg

Vianden Castle, Luxembourg

Trakai Island Castle, Lithuania

Trakai Island Castle, Lithuania

The castle was reconstructed after the Second World War and completed in 1961 to its former glory, showcasing its unique architecture. The inside is as impressive as the outside too: this photo shows the stone walls and artwork of the castle’s chapel. Take a look at vintage images of America’s most historic attractions.

Glamis Castle, Scotland, UK

The turreted Glamis Castle in Scotland is teeming with more than 1,000 years of history. It was even featured in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth as the home of the title character. A castle with royal roots, Glamis was also the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, whose parents were Lord and Lady Glamis. The castle was also the birthplace of her second daughter Princess Margaret, the first royal baby born in Scotland since 1600. 

Glamis Castle, Scotland, UK

The Castle of Ravadinovo, Bulgaria

The Castle of Ravadinovo, Bulgaria

Leeds Castle, England, UK

Surrounded by over 500 acres of parkland, five miles (8km) southeast of Maidstone, lies the beautiful Leeds Castle. From a Norman stronghold during the 11th and 12th century to a Tudor palace, the castle has a rich past spanning centuries. In 1665, the property was leased to the government to keep Dutch prisoners of war who then set it on fire. The castle remained in a state of disrepair for around a century until 1748 when Robert Fairfax renovated it. Eventually, in 1823 new owner Wykeham Martin demolished the original main house and replaced it with one in a Tudor style. 

Leeds Castle, England, UK

Not much has changed of the castle’s exterior since then. During the 1920s, Leeds Castle underwent another makeover, this time by Anglo-American heiress Lady Baillie, who would be the property’s last private owner. A 16th-century-style carved oak staircase from France was added to the castle as well as a cinema and swimming pool. Zebras and llamas were brought to the grounds. In the 1930s, the castle played host to European royalty, celebrities and statesmen, famed for its luxurious interior and Lady Baillie’s lavish hospitality. 

Egeskov Castle, Denmark

Egeskov Castle, Denmark

The castle is also Europe’s best preserved Renaissance water castle and while most of it is open to public (in fact, there are five museums within the castle), some areas are still used privately by Count Michael Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Bille and his wife Caroline, the niece of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. There are two museums, featuring vintage automobile and motorcycle collections as well as a fascinating collection on flying vehicles. Take a virtual tour of the world’s most enchanting stately homes.

Bled Castle, Slovenia

As if Slovenia’s Lake Bled needed anything else to make it even more beautiful, there also happens to be a castle, overlooking the glistening water and dense forests. A medieval castle built on a precipice above the city of Bled, it’s often regarded as Slovenia’s oldest castle and is also one of the most visited attractions. First mentioned in writing in 1011, the castle’s oldest surviving part is the Romanesque tower. Throughout the Middle Ages and during Renaissance, many improvements were added to it, making the castle a unique amalgamation of various styles.

Bled Castle, Slovenia

There’s a scenic forest trail leading its way up to the castle with some of the best views of the lake. There is now a museum within the castle, celebrating the history of Bled, from the first settlements to present day, as well as a restaurant and a wine cellar. You can also see a reconstruction of Gutenberg’s printing press and regular demonstrations of how it worked and was used.

Hohenwerfen Castle, Austria

You might well recognize the 900-year-old Hohenwerfen Fortress: it featured in the background of famous musical The Sound of Music. First constructed around 1077, the castle has gone through many renovations over the years, from its birth as a simple wooden structure to the fortified building it is today. It has been used as everything from a stately home to a military training center and a police school, and now it’s a popular tourist attraction. 

Hohenwerfen Castle, Austria

Conwy Castle, Wales, UK

Conwy Castle, Wales, UK

The castle is part of what’s known as The Ring of Iron (or Iron Ring of Castles). It was a series of fortifications and castles built to help Edward I with his conquest of Wales. He spent over $101,864 on all the castles, which is about $72 million today’s money. All of these castles were tactically positioned either by the coast or rivers and provided access to provisions of food and weapons. See more reasons to love Wales here.

Miramare Castle, Italy

Built in the 19th century, this dreamy castle overlooks the Gulf of Trieste in northeastern Italy. Its grounds include an extensive cliff and seashore park that were designed by the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of the House of Habsburg. The castle was built for him and his family and the garden was landscaped to include tropical trees and plants. See more of the world’s most beautiful gardens here.

Miramare Castle, Italy

Frederiksborg Castle, Denmark

Frederiksborg Castle, Denmark

The castle suffered a devastating fire in 1859, which ruined most of the building, however, over 300 paintings were saved and can now be seen in the castle’s museum. Reconstruction was publicly funded and today 70 rooms, plus the Chapel, the Rose Room and the Audience Room are included in the museum. 

Hohenzollern Castle, Germany

Hohenzollern Castle, Germany

Today, the castle is a major tourist attraction in Germany. It holds many significant historical artifacts relating to the Prussian history, like the crown of Wilhelm II, some personal effects of King Frederick the Great and a letter from US President George Washington, thanking Baron von Steuben (a Hohenzollern descendant) for his service in the American Revolutionary War. Pictured here is the interior of St Michael’s chapel, also part of the sprawling palace complex. You won’t believe these stunning sights are in Germany.

Buda Castle, Hungary

Buda Castle, Hungary

Eltz Castle, Germany

A beguiling fairy-tale castle, Burg Eltz in Western Germany dates from the 12th century and has remained in the Eltz family for an impressive 33 generations. The wonderfully romantic castle, which sits above the Elzbach River, is iconic in Germany and was featured on the 500 Deutsche Mark note from 1965 to 1992. These are Germany’s most beautiful towns and villages.

Eltz Castle, Germany

The castle obviously has its fair share of ghost stories, the most famous of which is the phantom of Countess Agnes. The countess was promised in marriage to the Knight of Braunsberg but during a feast to celebrate the match, she rebuffed her suitor, publicly humiliating him. Enraged by the rejection, the spurned knight organized an attack on the castle. After a valiant fight, she was struck by a crossbow and fatally injured and her ghost is said to still haunt the castle. Now discover spectacular American castles you never knew existed.

Peleș Castle, Romania

Peleș Castle, Romania

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