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Sunday, November 28, 2021

The Great Castles of Europe

Europe’s legendary castles are a delight to explore, these European fortresses are full of fairy-tale romance, adventurous history, and incredible architecture.

Most European countries can boast castles located in city centers and remote countrysides, but here is a list of the best, as follows:

Neuschwanstein, Germany

This is the palace that inspired Walt Disney (pictured again above), King Ludwig II built Neuschwanstein near Füssen in Germany’s southern state of Bavaria in the 19th Century.

By then, defensive structures were no longer needed, but the Fairytale King wanted a castle, so he built 1, and the resulting structure is a magnificent palace like no other.

Its name means “New Swan Castle”, referencing the monarch’s love of Wagner Operas, and though King Ludwig died before it was finished, it has enchanted countless visitors ever since.

Eilean Donan, Scotland

On an island at the confluence of 3 sea lochs, Eilean Donan is 1 of Scotland’s most iconic castles, perfectly complementing its natural setting.

The place was 1st inhabited as early as the 6th Century, but the 1st fortified castle was constructed on the site in the 13th Century.

This 1 was left in ruins after a Jacobite uprising in the early 18th Century, but restored and reopened in Y 1932.

Segovia Alcazar, Spain

Dominating the plains of Spain’s interior, Segovia’s skyline is dominated by 2 impressive buildings, its Cathedral and its Alcazar.  

The foundations of this castle date from Roman times, but today’s fortress has been around since the 16th Century.

Today, it is a museum that enchants visitors with its wonderfully opulent interior.

The gilded Sala de las Piñas with its ceiling of pineapples is especially enchanting, but the star of the show is the view from the Torre de Juan II which looks out over its vast Spanish surroundings.

Bran Castle, Romania

Bran Castle is a Key draw for tourists visiting Transylvania seeking the legend of Dracula. And though Bram Stoker, the creator of the famous vampire, never set foot here, the castle matches his description of the Count’s lonely fortress.

The structure was built as a fortress by Teutonic Knights, and was later adopted as a royal residence of Queen Maria of Romania. But that does not stop the Dracula fans, so expect Dracula references and souvenirs the moment you approach.

Trakai, Lithuania

Trakai, Lithuania

Legend has it that Trakai Castle in Lithuania was built when a Duke’s wife decided she did not like living in Old Trakai.

The Duke, keen to remind his beloved of her previous home by the sea, not only created a magnificent castle complex, he chose to locate it on a peninsula jutting out onto a lake.

The romantic gesture was lessened slightly when the castle was converted into a prison, but today it’s a history museum that visitors can tour and learn about the region’s fascinating history.

Gravensteen, Belgium

Ghent’s castle was built in Y 1180 by Count Philip of Alsace, who drew his inspiration from the Crusader castles he had seen on his tour of duty.

On the river Leie, the medieval fortress is a crowning jewel of this Belgian city. In its time, it has been a courthouse, prison, and even a factory, though today it’s one of Ghent’s most popular tourist attractions.

Château Comtal, France

France boasts many stunning châteaux, but the Count’s castle is 1 of the must-sees in the fortified old city of Carcassonne, the largest city in Europe boasting intact city walls.

Carcassonne’s castle is thought to have been built by Cathars, Christians who were denounced as heretics by the Catholic majority. It remains one of the best-restored medieval castles, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Visitors can walk its ramparts and strategize against any invaders in the military displays.

Corfe, England

The ruined castle that overlooks the village of Corfe may be less recognizable as a castle, but it’s a super addition to this list.

The fortress was a casualty of England’s brief but bloody Civil War, but its collapsed walls and hidden nooks fascinate visitors to this day.

History comes to life there.

Look for the murder holes used to pour tar or boiling oil and arrow slits from which archers could defend the castle against would-be attackers. Or admire the stunning view from the top of the Purbeck Hills.

Enjoy your travels

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