The Most Beautiful Castles in the World

Castles are the guardians of history. From the ethereal fairytale ambiance of Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany to the ancient majesty of Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, each fortress tells a captivating story of a time long past.

  • Neuschwanstein Castle - Germany

    Neuschwanstein Castle - Germany

    Built in the 19th century, this Bavarian castle represents the Romanesque Revival style. The white limestone reaching to pointed towers has been the inspiration for many a fairytale castle in stories, including Disney’s Cinderella and Sleepy Beauty. While the interior is an elaborately decorated Throne Room and a forest carved from stone. The alpine backdrop of this 19th century castle makes for a regal view.

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  • Alcázar of Segovia – Spain

    Alcázar of Segovia – Spain

    Overlooking the city of Segovia, this castle is located in the central region of León. Likely starting as a Roman fortification as far back as the 1st century, most of the structure was built in the 11th century. With this area changing hands multiple times throughout history, the castle is a mix of styles from Romanesque to Gothic to Islamic. Preservation efforts in the 20th century have brought it back to life, as it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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  • Mont Saint-Michel – France

    Mont Saint-Michel – France

    The site of Mont Saint-Michel was originally a monastery in the 8th century. Over the centuries, it was fortified into a fortress and abbey. This castle sits on a small, granite island near Normandy, France. The castle is surrounded by water when high tides come, making access difficult — an excellent quality for a fortification. Mont Saint-Michel is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has inspired creative works throughout its existence.

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  • Edinburgh Castle – Scotland

    Edinburgh Castle – Scotland

    Standing watch over Edinburgh’s city center is Edinburgh Castle, widely considered a symbol of Scottish identity. Starting as a stronghold built around the 12th century, this castle was added onto up to the 21st century. Scottish kings occupied the castle, and it was the site of battles and sieges. Many events are held here, including concerts and reenactments. It is Scotland’s most popular paid tourist attraction with over 2 million visitors per year.

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  • Prague Castle – Czech Republic

    Prague Castle – Czech Republic

    Atop Castle Hill, looking over Prague and the Vltava River, the castle was founded in the 9th century. It has a prestigious history as the seat of power for Holy Roman emperors, kings of Bohemia, and modern presidents. Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world, 753,473 sq ft. The complex features the Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, Basilica of St. George, and the Golden Lane of miniature colorful houses. It has an immense political and cultural significance to Czech identity.

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  • Windsor Castle – England

    Windsor Castle – England

    Located 20 mi west of London, Windsor Castle was once the home of the English Royal Family. It is still used frequently by the family of Monarchs that is now more of a figurehead in English politics. Many treasures are found in its halls, such as paintings, armor, and artifacts. Originally a smaller castle in the 11th century, it was added to over the centuries. The castle’s architectural history spans through Norman, Gothic, Baroque, and Georgian. With 1,000 rooms and 13 acres of spread, this is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world.

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  • Château de Chambord - France

    Château de Chambord - France

    This castle is located in Loire Valley, France, 2.5 hours south of Paris. The Château de Chambord is a UNESCO World Heritage Site designed in a French Renaissance style and built in the 16th century, with intricate turrets and chimneys rising above the roof. It is a prime example of the French Renaissance era in great condition. With almost 20 miles of surrounding forest roads and paths, as well as gardens with fountains and geometric patterns, this castle is iconic.

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  • Himeji Castle - Japan

    Himeji Castle - Japan

    About 50 miles west of Osaka, Japan, is Himeji Castle. Built in the 14th century as a fort atop the Himeyama hill in the city of Himeji. It is considered to be the finest example of traditional Japanese castles surviving to modern day. Designed as an impregnable fortress, it requires extensive restoration work to keep the condition up. Cherry blossoms add to the beauty of this castle in the spring. It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

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  • Buda Castle – Hungary

    Buda Castle – Hungary

    Sitting on the west bank of the Danube River in Budapest. Though added to over the years, a royal palace has sat on top of Castle Hill since the 13th century. The Neo-Baroque style of architecture gives an ornate and symmetrical appearance. The castle was heavily damaged in World War II, but reconstruction began in the 1950s. It houses sites such as the National Library, an underground cave system, and the Budapest History Museum with medieval ruins. Buda Castle stands front and center over the skyline of Budapest and has panoramic views from terraces all around the castle property.

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  • Bran Castle – Romania

    Bran Castle – Romania

    This castle was the inspiration for Dracula’s home in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula as well as locations for Dracula movies in the 1960s to 1970s. Located in Braşov, Transylvania, in Romania, Bran Castle was built in the 14th century on a cliff overlooking a narrow valley. The strategic overlook was used as a fortress to defend against the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. Though this was not the home of Vlad “Dracula” the Impaler, it does now feature exhibits about the history of Vlad the Impaler and Bram Stoker’s novel.

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