01. Château de Chenonceau, France.
The castle is built on river Cher, offering one of the most beautiful sights as it reflects in the water. Nicknamed “Château des Dames,” it owes much of its charm to several influential ladies in French history. The surrounding gardens and the castle itself aren’t the only beautiful things to admire here. Within the castle, there are impressive collections of Renaissance furniture, tapestries and many masterpieces.
The castle is located in the small city of Chenonceaux. To get there you first need to arrive in Paris and then catch a local train or bus to Chenonceaux.
02. Neuschwanstein, Germany.
This fairy tale castle doesn’t have a very long history to brag with, but its beauty makes all of us admire it in silence (and without taking photos of the interiors). It started its life in the 19th century as homage to Richard Wagner. After the death of Ludwig (the king who commissioned it) the castle was open for the public. The grounds have a theatrical aura to them which only helps to bring more visitors – about 1.3 million annually.
In order to get to the castle, you should first get to Munich (either by plane or train). Then you need to take a train to Füssen and then a bus in the direction to Schwangau until you reach the stop Hohenschwangau. From the bus station you can walk to the castle (about 30 minutes).
03. Miramare Castle, Trieste, Italy.
The beautiful castle was built in the 19th century. The grounds include a cliff and seashore park which gives the castle its beautiful and romantic look. The entire grounds were completely re-landscaped to accommodate the numerous tropical plans and trees, which are now overlooking the Adriatic Sea.
The castle located in the Trieste region was finished in 1860 and the eclectic style dominates the entire building. Currently, the castle houses a museum. The original furnishings, ornaments and furniture still can be admired in the castle’s rooms.
The easiest way to get to the castle is by train (Miramare station). If you come by car, take the A4 Motorway in the direction of “Trieste centro”.
04. Ashford Castle, Cong, Ireland.
If you are after a sumptuous vacation in an incredible place, Ashford Castle should be your destination. The imposing interiors blend nicely with the majestic entrances, creating a unique atmosphere. The spacious rooms are elegant, offering the guests a taste of what nobility experienced hundreds of years ago.
Built in 1228, the castle is very well preserved to retain its centuries old beauty. The guests can choose between numerous activities, including falconry, horseback riding and hunting.
The castle is located at only 30 min from Galway City and 90 min from Shannon Airport.
05. Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic.
he largest castle in the world is also one of the most beautiful in Central-Eastern Europe. Prague Castle started its life in the 9th century with a church. Centuries later a Romanesque palace was erected here and in the 14th century the royal palace was rebuilt in Gothic style. After a big fire which destroyed much of the castle in the 16th century, it has been renovated and some buildings in renaissance style appeared.
Prague can be easily reached either by plane or by train.
06. Bran Castle, Bran, Romania.
Bran Castle (Romanian: Castelul Bran; German: Törzburg; Hungarian: Törcsvár), situated near Bran and in the immediate vicinity of Braşov, is a national monument and landmark in Romania. The fortress is situated on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia, on DN73. Commonly known as “Dracula’s Castle” (although it is one among several locations linked to the Dracula legend, including Poenari Castle and Hunyad Castle), it is often erroneously referred to as the home of the title character in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. There is, however, no evidence that Stoker knew anything about this castle, which has only tangential associations with Vlad the Impaler, voivode of Wallachia, the putative inspiration for Dracula. As discovered by the Dutch author Hans Corneel de Roos, the location Bram Stoker actually had in mind for Castle Dracula while writing his novel was an empty mountain top, Mount Izvorul Călimanului, 2,033 metres (6,670 ft) high, located in the Călimani Alps near the former border with Moldavia. Stoker’s description of Dracula’s crumbling fictional castle also bears no resemblance to Bran Castle.
The castle is now a museum dedicated to displaying art and furniture collected by Queen Maria. Tourists can see the interior individually or by a guided tour. At the bottom of the hill is a small open-air museum park exhibiting traditional Romanian peasant structures (cottages, barns, etc.) from across the country.
07. Burg Hohenwerfen, Salzburg, Austria.
Located high above the Salzach Valley, between the Tennen and Hagen mountains and at just 40 km from Salzburg, the castle fits perfectly the description of a fairy tale place. The former fortification was built in the 11th century but to secure the area, three castles were later extended, including this one.
The Hohenwerfen is today an interesting adventure castle for its visitors. There’s a romantic tavern to explore, an interesting weapons chamber to discover and the historic Falconry Center with daily flight demonstrations.
Since the castle is so close to Salzburg, you can either catch a flight into the city or arrive by train. Then you can rent a car and drive to the castle.
08. Palace of Pena, Sintra , Portugal.
The oldest palace inspired by European Romanticism stands on top of a hill overlooking the city of Sintra. Its history started in the Middle Ages when a chapel was built on the very same hilltop. Later, a monastery was built but, by the 18th century it was reduced to ruins because of a lightning and an earthquake. The place remained in ruins for decades until 1838 when Ferdinand II bought the area and decided to build a palace.
The palace is a true expression of the European Romanticism, mixing several styles: Neo-Gothic, Islamic and Neo-Renaissance. The beautiful park which surrounds the castle comprises exotic plants and trees.
The easiest way to get to Sintra is by taking the train from Lisbon. The small city can easily be negotiated on foot.
09. Alcázar of Segovia, Segovia, Spain.
The Alcázar of Segovia is perched atop a rock in the old city of Segovia. Just like many other Spanish castles, it started off as an Arab fort. During the Middle Ages it was the preferred residence of the monarchs. The current castle dates mostly from those times.
Today the castle is one of the three major attractions in the city and one of the most popular historic sites in the country.
The easiest way to get to Segovia is via train from Madrid. The Old City, which also includes the ancient Roman aqueduct and the cathedral, can easily be negotiated on foot.
10. Edinburgh Castle, Scotland, UK.
Perched atop Castle Hill, it dominates the city of Edinburgh. It is one of the few castles in Europe which still have a military garrison (although for ceremonial purposes only). No matter where you are in the castle, the views are delightful. On a clear day, if you look to the north, you can see the mountains of The Kingdom of Fife in the distance.
The true beauty of the castle is highlighted during Military Tattoo, which takes place each year on the Esplanade. The oldest structure in the castle is St Margaret’s Chapel which dates from the 12th century.
Edinburgh is served by many low-cost carriers from different European cities.
11. Corvin Castle, Hunedoara, Romania.
Corvin Castle, also known as Hunyadi Castle or Hunedoara Castle (Romanian: Castelul Huniazilor or Castelul Corvinilor; Hungarian: Vajdahunyadi vár), is a Gothic-Renaissance castle in Hunedoara, Romania. It is one of the largest castles in Europe and figures in a top of seven wonders of Romania.
Corvin Castle was laid out in 1446, when construction began at the orders of John Hunyadi (Hungarian: Hunyadi János, Romanian: Iancu or Ioan de Hunedoara) who wanted to transform the former keep built by Charles I of Hungary. The castle was originally given to John Hunyadi’s father, Voyk (Vajk), by Sigismund, king of Hungary, as severance in 1409. It was also in 1446 when John Hunyadi was elected as the regent-governor of the Kingdom of Hungary by the Diet.
Built in a Renaissance-Gothic style and constructed over the site of an older fortification on a rock above the small Zlaști River, the castle is a large and imposing structure with tall towers, bastions, an inner courtyard, diversely coloured roofs, and myriads of windows and balconies adorned with stone carvings. The castle also features a double wall for enhanced fortification and is flanked by both rectangular and circular towers, an architectural innovation for the period’s Transylvanian architecture. Some of the towers (the Capistrano Tower, the Deserted Tower and the Drummers’ Tower) were used as prisons. The Buzdugan Tower (a type of mace after which it was named) was solely built for defensive purposes and it had its exterior decorated with geometric motifs. The rectangular shaped towers have large openings to accommodate larger weapons.
The castle has 3 large areas: the Knight’s Hall, the Diet Hall and the circular stairway. The halls are rectangular in shape and are decorated with marble. The Diet Hall was used for ceremonies or formal receptions whilst the Knight’s Hall was used for feasts. In 1456, John Hunyadi died and work on the castle has stagnated. Starting with 1458, new commissions were being undergone to construct the Matia Wing of the castle. In 1480, work was completely stopped on the castle and it was recognised as being one of the biggest and most impressive buildings in Eastern Europe.
12. The Castle of the Knights of St. John, Rhodes, Greece.
The entire Old Town of Rhodes is incredibly well preserved. Within the medieval town, the Palace of the Grandmaster is the most impressive sight. It contains the relics dating from the medieval times as well as beautiful 1st century floor mosaics which were brought to Rhodes from the island of Kos.
Another interesting place to visit is the Street of Knights, a fully restored medieval road, which stretches from the Archaeological Museum to the Grandmaster’s Palace.
Rhodes is served by both domestic and international flights. Within the summer season you can fly directly into the island from many European capitals, while during winter you might need to change planes in either Athens or Thessaloniki.
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