Who doesn’t love a good castle? Fairy tales, romance, epic battles, royal affairs, banquets, parties: they have it all. And Europe is a home for them. Germany alone has around 20,000 castles.
So at Euronews Travel we have collected some of our favorites from across the continent. Sit back, relax and take a look at some of the most beautiful castles in Europe.
This castle looks like it came straight out of an ancient tale. It is known as the “Disney Castle” and Neuschwanstein was actually one of the inspirations for Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World in Florida.
It was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1868, two years after the Seven Weeks War when Prussia conquered Bavaria and he lost most of his power. He is said to have used the building of opulent castles to nurture a fantasy that he was still a true king. Maybe just a little dramatic.
Today, Neuschwanstein is one of the most popular palaces and castles in Europe with around 1.4 million visitors per year.
This magnificent castle is perched on a cliff 130 meters above Lake Bled in Slovenia. With a history of over a thousand years, Bled Castle captivates visitors with its magnificence, stunning location and breathtaking views.
It is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Slovenia and you can even celebrate your wedding in the castle if you want to live out your fairytale fantasies.
The rock of Cashel
A charming more traditional castle located in County Tipperary in Ireland. According to local legends, the Rock of Cashel originated from Devil’s Bit, a mountain located 30 km north of Cashel. It is said that Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, banished Satan from a cave and in his anger he took a bite of the mountain.
The piece of stone was spat out at its current location, which is known today as the Rock of Cashel. It seems legitimate to us.
Mont Saint Michel
Mont Saint-Michel is the Ferrari of castles. Not only is it a stately building in its own right, but it is also set in its own medieval island village. The Rock of Cashel never could.
Located on the northwest coast of France, Mont Saint Michel offers spectacular sea views in an idyllic setting.
A captivating castle in Croatia that was built almost 800 years ago. However, centuries later it fell into disrepair. It wasn’t until Count Drašković took office in the 19th century that it was transformed into the magnificent castle it is today.
Certainly the most unusual castle on this list, Kelburn was originally built around 1143. Recently, the Castle Grafitti Project has transformed the century-old monument into a stunning work of art. We like the traditional mixed with the modern.
The idea was to “take the vibrant and often ephemeral art form of Brazilian graffiti out of its predominantly urban context and apply it to the old and permanent walls of a historic rural castle in Scotland”.
The results are spectacular and it is a truly unique building.
This beautiful castle was first built in the 13th century and has undergone many changes since then. The latest design was overseen by the noble Schwarzenberg family whose diplomatic trips to Britain influenced the updates. In fact, the castle was inspired by Windsor Castle in England, which is home to the Queen herself. So you know where to go if you want Czech royalty.
This castle was built around 135 to 139 AD and transformed into a fortress in the 5th century. It stands on the bank of the Tiber and guards the Ponte Sant’Angelo, one of the main ancient Roman bridges.
Despite its pretty exterior, it was actually used as a prison for death row inmates and was the site of many gruesome executions at the time. But now it’s a lovely museum, so don’t hesitate to visit it.
Castel de Bellver (Bellver Castle)
A Gothic-style castle on a hill 3 km west of central Palma on the island of Mallorca. The building is in incredible condition and has been around for 700 years. The Castel de Bellver was also a prison and has recently been turned into a museum.
Its circular shape is an unusual design for this type of defensive building and sets it apart from other European castles.
We also asked our readers what their favorites were on our Instagram and apparently we’re not alone in our awe-inspiring passion. Here are some of the most popular answers.
Ok, so maybe Mont Saint Michel has some competition. This castle is simply breathtaking.
In 2017, it was taken over by new owners for 15.4 million euros after a stint as a luxury hotel. It is located in Leccio, 30 km from Florence.
While the exterior is stunning, the enchanting architecture and design inside is what elevates this castle. Sadly fallen into disrepair and left empty and closed for most of the past three decades, with only occasional public tours allowed.
Maybe not technically a castle but we couldn’t rule out this magnificent Portuguese palace after so many of our readers requested its inclusion. And who could blame them because it is a truly magnificent building.
Pena Palace stands on top of a hill in the Sintra Mountains above the town of Sintra and can be seen on a clear day from Lisbon. The 167-year-old building is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Another popular castle with our readers, Edinburgh Castle is one of the oldest fortified places in Europe. It stands on Castle Rock, a site occupied by humans since at least the Iron Age. Research in 2014 identified 26 sieges in its 1,100 year history, giving it the questionable honor of being “Britain’s most besieged place and one of the most attacked in the world” .
It is also one of the most visited tourist attractions with over 2 million people visiting the building each year.
Also known as the “Castle of the Counts”, this beautiful fortress is located in the city of Ghent. It is open to the public and has a unique range of torture equipment on display to visitors. The collection even includes a guillotine that was used at the time.
This neo-Renaissance castle is located in the Carpathians. It’s relatively new compared to the others on this list, with construction not starting until the late 1800s and ending in 1914. But you know what they say, beauty isn’t defined by age. .
Its 160 rooms are filled with the best European art, Murano crystal chandeliers, German stained glass windows and walls covered in Cordoba leather.
So there you have it, 14 of Europe’s unique and most impressive castles, all wrapped up in a handy little listicle. Are there any that we missed? Let us know which one is your favorite by continuing the conversation @euronewtravel.