13 Top Castles in Europe With a Rich History
Updated On: March 29, 2023
Castles in Europe are renowned for their majesty and frequent beauty. They reflect the history of the European nations. A castle is built according to its purpose. Its structure matches the reason it was established for.
Additionally, castles are fortified to protect the city and royal family members. They feature mediaeval bridges that span over lighting canals, soaring turrets, and stone walls. Europe features a lot of remarkable castles that are worth at least one visit in your life.
Do you know what the top castles in Europe are? This article reviews some of Europe’s most renowned castles, from romantic marvels to mediaeval fortifications! We’re travelling throughout Europe to visit some of the most incredible castles.
The Most Stunning Castles in Europe
You run into a royal castle whenever you go by car or visit a European city. If you plan for your next visit, this article is of great help. Let’s check the following list of the top castles in Europe:
The Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Germany
The Neuschwanstein Castle was built in 1869 as a getaway for King Ludwig II. It is situated in the German village of Schwangau, part of the southwest Bavarian region. The castle extends to 65,000-square-foot.
Additionally, It is the German castle that receives the most visitors. The public has been allowed to access Neuschwanstein since 1886. However, the second floor is not accessible because it is entirely vacant, as much of the castle is not finished.
As a fairy-tale castle, it is the actual site of Cinderella Castle and Sleeping Beauty Castle. Nowadays, Neuschwanstein is one of the most well-known palaces and castles in Europe, as over 1.3 million people visit it each year.
The Alcazar Castle, Spain
In Spanish, the Alcazar Castle is known as Alcázar de Segovia. It is situated in Segovia, Spain, and was formerly a mediaeval castle built by the Moors in the 900s. This stunning castle was constructed for Peter, King of Castile.
Additionally, it has functioned as a royal residence, a prison, a school for the royal artillery, and a military academy. Spain’s most recognisable castle palace is shaped like a ship’s bow, making it a popular tourist attraction and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Its original size was 420,000 square feet, and most of that space still stands today. After a fire in 1862, it was reconstructed in the current, castle-like architecture.
Moreover, the style is so enchanting that Walt Disney used it as one of the sources of inspiration when creating Cinderella Castle for the 1937 film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs“! Adding to its uniqueness, it has a museum, numerous rooms, hidden corridors, and towers that view Segovia’s main square. Stained glass windows, shiny armour, abundant dining and dancing areas, and canopied beds characterise the interiors.
The Hohenzollern Castle, Germany
The Hohenzollern Castle is situated in southwest Germany, just south of Stuttgart, housing the family’s official home. It was a big, exquisitely furnished complex. Also, it is regarded as a remnant of military architecture from the 19th century because of its numerous towers and fortifications.
Between 1846 and 1867, the castle’s current structure was constructed. There is no doubt that this castle is one of the most famous in Germany. Inside the castle, there is a charming beer garden that is ideal for a traditional German rest. The only days Hohenzollern Castle is closed are Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Bran Castle, Romania
There are several lovely castles in Romania, but none are as well-known as Bran Castle. It was constructed in the late 1300s to serve as Queen Marie of Romania’s old home. This creepy castle served as the basis for Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula“, a famous work of literature. Additionally, it contributed to the ongoing, eerie allure of Transylvania, being Transylvania’s most well-known landmark. You can get a taste of this fantastic place’s history, myth, mystery, and enchantment, as well as that of its Queen.
Conwy Castle, Wales
A mediaeval stronghold located in Conwy on Wales’ north coast is known as Conwy Castle. One of Wales’ most beautiful castles, in our opinion. Edward I constructed it between 1283 and 1289 during his invasion of Wales. Conwy was transformed into a walled town.
The castle was demolished after Parliamentary forces took it over to prevent it from being utilised again for future revolutionary actions. In 1986, UNESCO declared it to be a World Heritage Site. Then, in the latter half of the 19th century, restoration work was done to transform the castle into a tourist destination.
Windsor Castle, England
Windsor Castle is the world’s oldest and largest occupied castle and the official residence of the British Royal Family. The Castle stretches to about 13 acres; Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married in St George’s Chapel, one of England‘s most exquisite churches and the final resting place of ten monarchs. Visitors are welcome to visit the chapel on Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
The castle has three art treasures: Queen Mary’s Doll House, the Drawings Gallery, which houses exhibitions, and the Magnificent State Apartments, which feature priceless pieces from the Royal Collection. Since Windsor Castle is a functioning palace, unexpected closures are possible. It typically operates from 10 am to 4 pm most days and at 3 pm in winter.
Chambord Castle, France
Located in a wooded park in the heart of the Loire Valley, Chambord Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The young king François I, who had triumphed in the Battle of Marignan, gave the order for its construction. It became a symbol of French Renaissance architecture when it was officially opened in 1547 amid the great uproar. Additionally, it was a work of art with a spiral staircase, elaborate ceilings, and interior decor from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Despite not being finished during the reign of François I, the château is one of the few structures from that time to have survived without undergoing significant changes to its original design. Chambord Castle modelled the castle in the film Beauty and the Beast. Because of its aesthetic design, Chambord Castle is the most identifiable worldwide.
Chenonceau Castle, France
The castle was constructed in 1514 on top of an old mill, and the recognisable bridge and gallery were added around 60 years later. This French castle came under Catherine de Medici’s authority in 1559, and she made it her preferred home. Because several aristocratic ladies served as its managers, it was commonly referred to as the “Ladies’ Castle.” In 1560, the first-ever fireworks display in France was held here.
It has a unique design, an extensive collection, beautiful furnishings, and decorations. Allied and Axis forces bombed Chenonceau Castle during World War II, which the Germans took over. 1951 saw the start of its rehabilitation. This European castle is open on a daily basis, including holidays; opening and closing times vary with the seasons.
Eltz Castle, Germany
Construction of the Eltz fortress took place along the lower Eltz River, a branch of the Mosel River. The House of Eltz has owned it since the middle of the 11th century, and it is still run by the same German aristocratic family—now in its 34th generation. The Eltz family was divided into three branches in 1268, and each had a residence in the castle.
Eight towers currently comprise the amazing castle, with residential spaces arranged around a central courtyard. It is a living example of nearly nine centuries of commitment to preserving this area’s history and cultural heritage. Visitors can explore the Treasure Chamber to see the wealth of the Eltz family. Two restaurants and a gift shop are also located in Burg Eltz.
Culzean Castle, Scotland
Between 1777 and 1792, the Culzean Castle was constructed, with lavish gardens on one side and a body of water on the other. During the late 1700s, the 10th Earl of Cassilis reportedly wanted the building to be a visible indicator of his wealth and social status. The castle underwent extensive renovations and reopened in 2011. An American millionaire named William Lindsay provided the funding for the renovations.
The National Trust for Scotland owns the castle and is responsible for its maintenance. The setting has appeared in many TV and movie projects, including a documentary about Scottish castles. The six-bedroom vacation suite on the castle’s top floor, which initially housed Dwight D. Eisenhower, is now available for booking online.
Corvin Castle, Romania
One of the giant castles in Europe, Corvin Castle, was erected on a hill in the 15th century. It was rumoured that Dracula was held captive in this stunning castle in Romania. This castle has been in several films and television programmes. It goes by the name Hunedoara Castle or Hunyadi Castle. Sigismund, king of Hungary, initially gave the castle to Voyk (Vajk), John Hunyadi’s father, as severance in 1409.
The castle is open most of the year; however, Mondays are only open in the afternoon. John Hunyadi, who wished to remodel the previous keep built by Charles I of Hungary, gave the order to start building Corvin Castle in 1446. It is among the most stunning castles in Europe.
Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland
At the intersection of three different lochs, the castle is situated on a little tidal island and is incredibly picturesque. In the 13th century, it first evolved into a fortified castle. Since then, four other versions of the castle have been constructed. It served as the model for DunBroch Castle in “Brave” (2012).
The Eilean Donan Castle was renovated and reopened in 1932 after being abandoned for a few hundred years. The Clan McRae’s current headquarters are there. It features a picturesque bridge, moss-covered walls, or a stunning setting nestled among Highland lochs.
We have come to the end of the list. Europe features many stunning castles with a rich history that are worth a visit. Wherever you are in Europe, take advantage of the chance and pay a visit to one of these castles. You can also check the best European city breaks to get the maximum out of your visit.