Europe’s Top 25 Castles
There is something about castles that inspires awe and at the same time touches a gentler, more romantic side in each of us. And if you want to visit some of the best castles in the world, then Europe should be your destination as this continent certainly has more than its share. Here are the top 25 castles in Europe, in no particular order.
1. Castle Neuschwanstein in Germany
For many of those that see this castle for the first time, they get a niggling feeling that Castle Neuschwanstein looks so familiar. The reason for this is that the castle looks so much like the Disney castle in Florida! Indeed, some have speculated that that castle was modeled after the “real thing” in Germany. One thing is for sure, this massive castle is quite breathtaking! Built in the 1800s, the castle can be found in Schwangau, in the Bavarian Alps.
2. Peles Castle in Romania
Known as one of the most beautiful castles in Europe, Peles Castle can be discovered in the majestic Carpathian Mountains, near the town of Sinaia, Romania. There are 168 rooms in the castle and only 35 are accessible to the public. Recommended rooms include Holul de Onoare, Sala Mare De Arme, Sala De Teatru and Salonul Turcesc . Unfortunately, guided tours are only available of the ground and first floors. Peles Castle is a must-see destination in Romania.
3. Bojnice Castle in Slovakia
Bojnice Castle is located in Bojnice, Slovakia and is one of the most delightful romantic castles in Europe. The castle dates back to the 12th century and hosts one of the most popular museums in Slovakia. The castle also offers other interesting attractions and hosts many festivals. It is also possible to get married at Bojnice Castle.
4. Castle of Coco in Spain
Built in the 15th century by the Archbishop of Seville, the incredible Castle of Coca or Castillo de Coca is considered to be one of the best castles in Spain. An excellent example of the Gothic and Mudéjar styles, Coca Castle can be found in the town of Coca in the Segovia province in Spain. Guided tours of the interior, exterior and museum are available and highly recommended.
5. Brodick Castle in Scotland
Situated in the Isle of Arran in Scotland, this castle is one of the oldest. Its roots can be traced back to the time of the Vikings and was in fact built as protection against them. It was the English Dukes of Hamilton that had the fortress built, and over the centuries, generations of the family added on the castle. In 1957, the last Hamilton heir gave up the castle, and visitors can now tour this historic site. Aside from the art collection, there is a rhododendron collection in the garden, which is famous worldwide.
6. Veliki Tabor Castle in Croatia
Built in the 12th century and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site member, Veliki Tabor Castle is located in beautiful region of Zagorje, Croatia. The castle was once owned by the noble Ratkaj family and the painter Oton Iveković. The castle is now owned by the state and is used as a tourist site, museum, the venue for the Tabor film festival and other cultural and leisure events.
7. Ksiaz Castle in Poland
Also known as the Pearl of Lower Silesia, Ksiaz Castle was built in the 13th century by Bolko I the Strict. The castle has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over the years. It was once confiscated by the Nazis and then occupied by the Red army. Guided tours of the castle for tour groups and individual tourists are available in the spring and summer between 9am and 5pm Monday to Sunday.
8. Bran Castle in Romania
Originally built by the Knights of the Teutonic Order in 1212, Bran Castle is located just outside of Bran, in the Eastern European country of Romania. Set in the hills, this picturesque castle has close ties to the legend of Dracula, and has been converted into a museum popular with tourists visiting the area.
9. Lincoln Castle in England
Lincoln Castle is in Lincolnshire and was built in 1068. As with many other European castles, Lincoln Castle is steeped in history, but it has the additional distinction of being one of only two castles in the country that were originally built on two mottes. More than this, Lincoln Castle used to be the home of William the Conqueror.
10. Eltz Castle in Germany
Eltz Castle is situated in the hills between Koblenz and Trier in West Germany. It is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Germany and has been owned by the same branch of family for over 800 years. Guided tours of the castle are recommended and cost € 8.00 for adults and € 5.50 for children. Eltz Castle is open from April to November and can be visited daily between 9.30am and 5.30pm.
11. Mont Saint-Michel in France
Another striking European castle, Mont Saint-Michel near Normandy never fails to impress. It is actually considered to be a medieval wonder, because of the fact that it is built on a rocky peak. Mont Saint-Michel was originally an abbey and served as a popular destination for pilgrims. Today, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in France.
12. Malbork Castle in Poland
Listed as a World Heritage Site in 1997, Malbork castle was founded in Prussia in 1274 by the Teutonic Order. Today, this beautiful Gothic brick castle complex can be visited by taking a short 60 minute trip from Gdansk, Poland. Malbork Castle offers excellent guided tours, permanent and temporary exhibitions as well as archival exhibits.
13. Castle Frankenstein in Germany
This castle is so famous because of it’s the myths and stories surrounding in. More than these legends, Frankenstein’s Castle has its own real history. Discover this mysterious castle on your own, and enjoy Frankenstein come to real life.
14. Castle of Eger in Hungary
Castle Eger is one of Hungary’s most popular tourist attractions and is well worth a visit. The castle is about a 90 minute train ride from Budapest. The castle dates back to 13th century and is famous for fending off the massive Turkish army invasion in 1552. There are four excellent museums in the castle as well as other interesting exhibitions for you to see.
15. Windsor Castle in England
Who has not heard of Windsor Castle? Located in the English county of Berkshire, Windsor Castle is one of the most perfectly maintained castles in the world. Of course, the renowned guards who do not flinch are also present here. Even better, the castle is in a quaint little town with everything “English-quaint” to be found here.
16. Trakai Castle in Lithuania
Situated in the town of Trakai in Lithuania, Trakai Castle is a brilliant example of Gothic architecture. There are actually two castles to see at Trakai – one on an island, and one on the shore of Lake Galvė. The castle hosts an excellent museum that is filled with Lithuanian artifacts and other interesting objects that were discovered on the castle grounds. A day trip from Vilnius to Trakai castle is recommended.
17. Spis Castle in Slovakia
Dating back to the 12th century, Spis Castle is one of largest medieval castles in the Central Europe and is situated above the town of Spišské Podhradie. The castle was declared a national monument in 1961 and was once owned by the Royal Family. Spis Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
18. Hohensalzburg Castle in Austria
Built in 1077 by Archbishop Gebhard, Hohensalzburg Castle is located in the picturesque Austrian town of Salzburg and is Salzburg’s most popular tourist attraction. This massive fortress sits over the city on Festungsberg hill and is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. Guided tours with audio in eight languages are available or you can tour the castle at your own leisure.
19. Canterbury Castle in England
Another really really old castle, the Canterbury Castle was built in the 3rd century. As with other castles, Canterbury Castle was added on to over the centuries. And while the castle is not intact anymore, it still is a wonder to behold.
20. Predjama Castle in Slovenia
Built into a natural rock formation in Slovenia, Predjama Castle is a popular destination for visitors of the area. Now a museum showcasing the life of various medieval lords, Predjama Castle has been rebuilt twice, after experiencing war and natural disaster. This remarkable Renaissance castle is unassuming in its beauty, but is a must-see for enthusiasts
21. Pembroke Castle in Wales
Situated on the banks of the River Estuary, Pembroke Castle has tunnels, passageways, and stairways that one can explore. Tudor buffs will also love the fact that Henry Tudor was born here. Another plus: the castle is mostly intact.
22. Hunyad Castle in Romania
Said to be the home of lingering spirits, Hunyad Castle is a relic of the Hunyad dynasty, and situated in Romania. Also known as Hunedora Castle, this magnificent structure was built in the 14th Century in Gothic style, and is famous for supposedly being the home of imprisoned Vlad III for 7 years, before he was dethroned in 1462.
23. Chateau de Versailles in France
Chateau de Versailles was built as a hunting lodge by Louis the XIII. Soon after, the lodge was upgraded to a castle and became the official residence of the Court of France. Over the years, and many monarchs later, the castle evolved into what it is today.
24. Kyrenia Castle in Cyprus
Located on the picturesque northern coast of Cyprus, Kyrenia Castle was built on the eastern side of the village’s harbour. Surviving several small sieges, and a four year long war, this 16th Century castle is one of the main tourist attractions for the area, rich in diverse history.
25. Prague Castle in the Czech Republic
This castle is the pride of the Czech Republic’s capital. Prague Castle has been at the center of the country’s history for the longest time, and continues to be a symbol of its struggles. The castle, which is known as one of the largest in the world, was built in the ninth century and stands majestic till today. You can take a guided tour of the Prague Castle every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours are offered in six languages: Czech, English, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish.