Coming from the American continent, I never got the chance to see a real castle except for the Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City. The first time I traveled to Europe, I couldn’t help but stand awe-struck at the magnificence of the ones I visited. Discovering these buildings that before then, I had only seen in movies, quickly became one of my favourite things to do. Wandering around in the gigantic halls and admiring the lavish details made me feel as though I was not only travelling to another continent, but somehow also back in time and into a fairytale.
Here is a list of the most outstanding castles I have seen during my travels. Of course, Europe is a gigantic continent with centuries of history behind it and I am aware there are many more left for me to explore. If you feels as though there is a castle that should be included in the list, feel free to leave its name under the comments section or even better, write about it for others to see here.
1. Château de Chillon, Switzerland
Located on the Eastern end of Lake Geneva, the castle is considered Switerland’s most visited historic monument. It was made popular by Lord Byron’s poem The Prisoner of Chillon.
2. Hohenzollern Castle, Germany
Located on the western side of the Swabian Alps, approximately 50 kilometers south of Stuttgart sits Hohenzollern Castle. The castle is one of the most visited in Germany due to the beauty of the structure itself as well as its breath-taking natural backdrop.
3. Eltz Castle, Germany
Nestled in the forest is this medieval castle from the 12th century. This breath-taking structure appeared on the 500 Deutsche Mark note from 1965 up to 1992. The castle can be visited between April and November.
4. Hunyadi Castle, Romania
This Renaissance-Gothic castle is located in Hunedoara in Romania. It is one of the biggest castles in the European continent and believed to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula due to the story of Vlad III’s imprisonment. However, there is no proof that Stoker even knew about the castle’s existence.
5. Schwerin Castle, Germany
Magestically standing on an island in Schweriner Lake, the castle today serves as the seat of the state’s parliament. Originally, a fort stood in the place of the castle and was seized by the Germans due to its strategic and beautiful location.
It is believed that there is a tiny, invisible ghost roaming about in the halls of the castle. Beware!
6. Bojnice Castle, Slovakia
A popular filming location for fantasy movies, Bojnice Castle is one of the most visited attractions in Slovakia and the host to two annual festivals: the Summer Music Festival and the International Festival of Ghosts and Spirits. The castle is surrounded by a park that contains a zoo. The park eventually turns into a forest as it continue deep onto the mountains.
7. Książ Castle, Poland
Książ Castle is located inside a natural landscape park, which creates a breath-taking backdrop for the already magnificent building.
8. Peleș Castle, Romania
This castle is a bit newer than any other in the list. Completed in 1914, it stands on a medival route that connects Wallachia to Transylvania. The castle was the first in the world to be fully powered by locally produces electricity.
What I liked the most about this castle is that each room seems to represent a different culture: there is the Turkish Parlor, decorated with Izmir rugs and ítems and used as a smoking room; the the Moorish Salon, decorated with elements from North African and Hispanic Moorish style; the Florentice Room, which features elements from the Italian Renaissance.
9. Hohenwerfen Castle, Austria
Nestled between the Berchtesgaden Alps, 40 kilometers south of Salzburg, this castle was the backdrop for “Do-Re-Mi” in the Sound of Music.
10. Alcázar de Segovia, Spain
One of the inspiration for Cinderella’s castle, the structure rises above two rivers and its breath-taking backdrop is lined by the Guadarrama mountains and is, irrefutably, one of the most magnificent and imponent castles in Spain.
11. Vianden Castle, Luxembourg
Guarding the town of Viaden and River Our, this Romanesque castle dates back to the 10th century and was built on the site where and ancient Roman castellum once stood.
12. Chateau de Chambord, France
Built in a French Renaissance style, this castle’s designs is often attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, yet this has never been confirmed. The castle’s beauty served as the inspiration for the
13. Castillo de Coca, Spain
An interesting fact about this gorgeous castle is that it is one of the few fortresses in Spain that was not constructed on a hill. Built in the 15th century by Alonso de Fonseca y Acevedo, it was a clear symbol of his wealth and he constantly hosted balls and parties for important figures in the castle.
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