The era of the Middle Ages has ended long ago, but ancient castles are scattered all over Europe as a silent reminder of it. These defensive structures have seen a lot in their lifetime, steadfastly withstanding siege after siege. And today we have a unique opportunity to touch history by visiting the most famous castles in the world.
Bran Castle, built in 1388, is located on the border of Wallachia and Transylvania. It is commonly referred to as Dracula’s castle due to its association with the legend of the famous vampire. The novel by Bram Stoker added particular popularity to the ancient building.
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The most famous castles in the world: Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle is located on a small island in Scotland. It was built in the 13th century to protect the area from the Vikings and has seen more than one battle in its lifetime, always remaining an important military outpost.
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One of the most beautiful castles in the world, Eltz Castle was built presumably in the 11th century to protect the trade route from the Moselle to the Eifel. Today, the ancient building is maintained in excellent condition, preserving it for the descendants of the current owner.
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The most famous castles in the world: Pierrefonds Castle
Pierrefonds Castle is located in Picardy, a region in northern France between Paris and Belgium. It was built in the 12th century and in 1392 King Charles VI hired architects to rebuild it for his brother Louis, Duke of Orléans. Most of the castle was eventually destroyed during the reign of the Malcontents in the early 17th century, but Napoleon III revived the marvelous structure as a “romantic ruin” during his reign in the 19th century.
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Originally known as Kylemore Castle, this fantastic fortification in the west of Ireland was turned into a Benedictine monastery by Belgian nuns fleeing the fighting from the First World War. Built in 1868 as the private home of a wealthy doctor, the Victorian building and the manor’s Gothic church reflect beautifully in the waters of the nearby lake.
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The most famous castles in the world: Hohenwerfen Castle
Hohenwerfen Castle is located on a rocky hill in the Salzach valley, not far from Salzburg. Built between 1075 and 1078, throughout its history the castle not only served as an imposing fort, residence and hunting ground for the archbishops of Salzburg, but also as a state prison. Today, Hohenwerfen is a museum worth visiting for its fascinating history and stunning mountains all around.
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Photo: Diego Delso, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Situated right on the slope of a large rocky cliff, this is definitely one of the most famous and unusual castles in the world. Its location at the mouth of the cave made it less vulnerable in case of an attack, but the defenders could replenish supplies through a hidden network of underground passages. Built and destroyed many times over the centuries, Predjama Castle is just a short drive from Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana. The most interesting time to visit is July, when a colorful medieval festival and tournaments of knights take place here.
The most famous castles in the world: Windsor Castle
Undoubtedly one of the most famous medieval era castles in the world, Windsor Castle was built in the 11th century and is the largest residential castle in the world. Today it is not only the residence of the Royal family, but also an unshakable symbol of the British monarchy.
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This place has played an important role in the life of the country since 880. Experts consider Prague Castle a unique architectural complex and one of the largest castles in the world. From the early Middle Ages, it served as the residence of the royal dynasties and still remains the place where the fate of the country is decided. Prague Castle is located on the high left bank of the Vltava river and can be seen from many areas of the city. It not only adds harmony and beauty to the old quarters of the modern metropolis, but also makes Prague one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
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The most famous castles in the world: Malbork Castle
This 13th-century fortified monastery belonging to the legendary Teutonic Order was greatly enlarged and embellished after 1309, when the residence of the Grand Master was moved here from Venice. This perfect example of a medieval brick castle fell into disrepair but was painstakingly restored in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Many methods of preserving historical monuments, which are now accepted as standard, were invented and developed here. After severe damage during World War II, Malbork was rebuilt again. During the work, detailed documentation prepared by earlier restorers was used.
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The famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, perched atop a forested hill that hides the majestic Bavarian Alps, looks like it just stepped out of a children’s story book. The castle was completed in 1886 and its delightful design is based on romantic architecture and Ludwig II’s love of Richard Wagner’s operas.
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The most famous castles in the world: Castel del Monte
Castel del Monte is not only one of the most famous castles in the world, but also one of the most mystical. The medieval fortress is literally permeated with the number 8: eight halls, eight towers with an octagonal base, eight rooms on each floor, an octagonal courtyard… No wonder the castle has acquired a huge number of legends and myths!