Top 20 most beautiful castles in World
There are so many amazing castles around the world and it is very hard to make a list of the top 20. We've put together a list of the most breathtaking castles around the world that are already in our database. This list will continually change as our visitors vote for their favourite castles and new ones are added to our database.
The Gravensteen is a castle in Ghent originating from the Middle Ages. It was built in 1180 by count Philip of Alsace and was modeled after the crusaders castles that Philip of Alsace encountered while he participated in the second crusade.
The castle served as the seat of the Counts of Flanders until they abandoned it in the 14th century. The castle was then used as a courthouse, a prison and eventually decayed. At one time it even served as a factory.
In 1885 the city of Ghent bought the castle and started a renovation project. The newly built houses around the castle were removed and the walls and keep were restored to their original condition. The castle houses a museum with various torture devices (and a guillotine) that were historically used in Ghent.... view details
Vianden Castle is one of the largest fortified castles west of the Rhine. With origins dating from the 10th century, the castle was built in the Romanesque style from the 11th to 14th centuries.
Gothic transformations were added at the end of this period and a Renaissance mansion was constructed in the 17th century; thereafter the castle was allowed to fall into ruins. It has, however, recently been fully restored and is open to visitors.... view details
The Palace of the Kings of Navarre of Olite or The Royal Palace of Olite was one of the seats of the Court of the Kingdom of Navarre, since the reign of Charles III 'the Noble' until its union with Castile (1512).
In the 15th-century, a German traveller wrote his impressions about the palace in his diary (which is now conserved in the British Museum in London):
"Surely there is no king with a more beautiful castle or palace and with so many gilded rooms (...) it could not say or even could imagine how magnificent and sumptuous is this palace (...)"
The monument was damaged in 1813 by a fire during the Napoleonic French Invasion. It was largely restored in the first half of the 20th century, in works that lasted for 30 years which gave back its original appearance.... view details
Belem Tower is a fortified tower and a UNESCO World Heritage Site (along with the nearby Jeronimos Monastery) because of the significant role it played in the Portuguese maritime discoveries of the era of the Age of Discoveries.
The tower was commissioned by King John II to be part of a defence system at the mouth of the Tagus river and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. It was built in the early 16th century and is a prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style, but it also incorporates hints of other architectural styles.
The structure was built from lioz limestone and is composed of a bastion and a 30-metre four-storey tower. It has incorrectly been stated that the tower was built in the middle of the Tagus and now sits near the shore because the river was redirected after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. In fact, the tower was built on a small island in the Tagus River near the Lisbon shore.... view details
The royal Chateau at Amboise was confiscated by the monarchy in the 15th century, it became a favoured royal residence and was extensively rebuilt. King Charles VIII died at the chateau in 1498 after hitting his head on a door lintel.
The chateau fell into decline from the second half of the 16th century and the majority of the interior buildings were later demolished, but some survived and have been restored, along with the outer defensive circuit of towers and walls. It has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1840.
Leonardo da Vinci is buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert, adjoining the Chateau, which had been built in 1491-96.... view details
Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.
The castle stands on a 172-metre high Dolomite rock near Sankt Georgen am Langsee and east of the town of Sankt Veit an der Glan, about 20 km away from the city of Klagenfurt. It can be seen from a distance of up to 30 kilometres on a clear day.
Some parts of the castle are open to the public every year from Easter to the end of October. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the 14 gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.... view details
Hohensalzburg Castle sits atop the 'Festungsberg', a small hill in the Austrian city of Salzburg. Erected at the behest of the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg with a length of 250 m and a width of 150 m, it is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe.
The fortress consists of various wings and courtyard. The Prince-Bishop's apartments are located in the so-called high floor. These include the Golden Hall, richly decorated which indicates that the fortress served the archbishops not only as a refuge in times of crisis, but frequently also as a residence, as well as the Golden Chamber, the most magnificently furnished room of the princely chambers.
Hohensalzburg Castle was refurbished from the late 19th century onwards and became a major tourist attraction with the Festungsbahn funicular railway, opened in 1892, leading up from the town to the Hasengrabenbastei. It stands today as one of the best preserved castles in Europe.... view details
Bodiam Castle was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a former knight of Edward III, with the permission of Richard II, ostensibly to defend the area against French invasion during the Hundred Years War.
Its structure, details and situation in an artificial watery landscape indicate that display was an important aspect of the castle's design as well as defence. The castle is protected as a Grade I listed building and is open to the public.... view details
The Castles of Bellinzona are a group of fortifications located around the town of Bellinzona, the capital of the Swiss canton of Ticino. Situated on the Alpine foothills, the group is composed of fortified walls and three castles named Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro.
Castelgrande is located on a rocky peak overlooking the valley, with a series of walls that protect the old city and connect to Montebello. Sasso Corbaro, the highest of the three castles, is located on an isolated rocky promontory south-east of the other two.
The Castles of Bellinzona with their defensive walls have been an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.... view details
Castel Sant'Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, is a towering cylindrical building in Parco Adriano, Rome. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family.
The building was later used by the popes as a fortress and castle. The popes converted the structure into a castle, beginning in the 14th century; Pope Nicholas III connected the castle to St Peter's Basilica by a covered fortified corridor called the Passetto di Borgo. The fortress was the refuge of Pope Clement VII from the siege of Charles V of Spain during the Sack of Rome (1527), in which Benvenuto Cellini describes strolling the ramparts and shooting enemy soldiers.
The Papal state also used Sant'Angelo as a prison; Giordano Bruno, for example, was imprisoned there for six years. Another prisoner was the sculptor and goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini. Executions were performed in the small inner courtyard. As a prison, it was also the setting for the third act of Giacomo Puccini's 1900 opera Tosca; the eponymous heroine leaps to her death from the Castel's ramparts.
The Castle was once the tallest building in Rome. Decommissioned in 1901, the castle is now a museum, the "Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo".... view details
Chillon Castle is an island castle located on Lake Geneva (Lac Leman), south of Veytaux in the canton of Vaud. Chillon is amongst the most visited castles in Switzerland and Europe. According to the castle website, Chillon is listed as "Switzerland's most visited historic monument".
Chillon Castle is situated at the eastern end of the lake, on the narrow shore between Montreux and Villeneuve, which gives access to the Alpine valley of the Rhone. It began as a Roman outpost, guarding the strategic road through the Alpine passes. It was used as a defensive outpost, a prison and a munitions and weapons depot.
Chillon was made popular by Lord Byron, who wrote the poem The Prisoner Of Chillon (1816) about Francois de Bonivard. Byron also carved his name on a pillar of the dungeon. It is also known to be the inspiration behind the castle in the animated musical fantasy film The Little Mermaid.... view details
The Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex, one of Spain's major tourist attractions, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the inspiration for many songs and stories.
It was originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889 on the remains of Roman fortifications, and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Moorish emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada.
After the conclusion of the Christian Reconquista in 1492, the site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella (where Christopher Columbus received royal endorsement for his expedition), and the palaces were partially altered to Renaissance taste.
After being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, Alhambra was rediscovered following the defeat of Napoleon, who had conducted retaliatory destruction of the site; the re-discoverers were first British intellectuals and then other north European Romantic travelers. Moorish poets described it as "a pearl set in emeralds," an allusion to the colour of its buildings and the woods around them.... view details
The Pena Palace stands on the top of a hill in the Sintra Mountains above the town of Sintra, and on a clear day it can be easily seen from Lisbon and much of its metropolitan area.
It is a national monument and constitutes one of the major expressions of 19th-century Romanticism in the world. The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.
It is also used for state occasions by the President of the Portuguese Republic and other government officials.... view details
Windsor Castle is a royal residence, notable for its long association with the English and later British royal family and for its architecture. The original castle was built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror.
Since the time of Henry I, it has been used by the reigning monarch and is the longest-occupied palace in Europe. The castle State Apartments are considered by many historians as the finest and most complete expression of later Georgian taste.
It is a popular tourist attraction, a venue for hosting state visits, and the preferred weekend home of Elizabeth II. Today, more than 500 people live and work in Windsor Castle - the largest inhabited castle in the world.... view details
Hohenzollern Castle is the ancestral seat of the imperial House of Hohenzollern. The third of three castles on the site, it is located atop Berg Hohenzollern, a 234-metre bluff rising above the towns of Hechingen and Bisingen in the foothills of the Swabian Alps of central Baden-Wurttemberg.
The present structure was built between 1846 and 1867 as a family memorial by Hohenzollern scion King Frederick William IV of Prussia. The design was based on English Gothic Revival architecture and the Chateaux of the Loire Valley.
Among the historical artifacts of Prussian history contained in the castle are the Crown of Wilhelm II, some of the personal effects of King Frederick the Great, and a letter from US President George Washington thanking Hohenzollern descendant Baron von Steuben for his service in the American Revolutionary War.
A popular tourist destination, Hohenzollern castle has over 300,000 visitors per year, making it one of the most visited castles in Germany.... view details
Neuschwanstein is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. The "fairy-tale" palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as an homage to Richard Wagner, whom the king has greatly admired.
The castle was intended as a personal refuge for the reclusive king Ludwig, but it was opened to the paying public immediately after his death in 1886.
Since then more than 61 million people have visited Neuschwanstein Castle. More than 1.3 million people visit annually, with as many as 6,000 per day in the summer.
Ludwig paid for the palace out of his personal fortune and by means of extensive borrowing, rather than Bavarian public funds.... view details
Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, from its position on the Castle Rock. There has been a royal castle on the rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until 1633.
As one of the most important strongholds in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle was involved in many historical conflicts from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century to the Jacobite Rising of 1745. Research undertaken in 2014 identified 26 sieges in its 1100-year-old history, giving it a claim to having been "the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world".
The castle, in the care of Historic Scotland, is Scotland's most-visited paid tourist attraction, with over 1.4 million visitors in 2013. The castle has become a recognisable symbol of Edinburgh and of Scotland and indeed, it is Edinburgh's most frequently visited visitor attraction; according to the Edinburgh Visitor Survey, more than 70% of leisure visitors to Edinburgh visited the castle.... view details
The Chateau de Chenonceau spans the River Cher, near the small village of Chenonceaux. It is one of the best-known chateaux of the Loire valley.
The estate of Chenonceau is first mentioned in writing in the 11th century. The current chateau was built in 1514-1522 on the foundations of an old mill and was later extended to span the river. The bridge over the river was built (1556-1559) to designs by the French Renaissance architect Philibert de l'Orme, and the gallery on the bridge (1570-1576) to designs by Jean Bullant.... view details
The castle of Fontainebleau is one of the biggest royal castles in France; it is located in the town of Fontainebleau, 55 km from Paris.
The Chateau de Fontainebleau can proudly claim to have been a sovereign residence for eight centuries. Capetiens, Valois, Bourbons, Bonaparte and Orleans, all members of French ruling dynasties, have lived within these walls.
Kings and queens, emperors and empresses have all striven to make their own improvements to the chateau built around the original keep. The estate quickly became a huge palace in which many momentous historical events have been played out.... view details
The royal Chateau de Chambord is one of the most recognizable castles in the world because of its very distinctive French Renaissance architecture which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures. The building, which was never completed, was constructed by King Francis I of France.
Chambord is the largest castle in the Loire Valley; it was built to serve as a hunting lodge for Francis I, who maintained his royal residences at the chateaux of Blois and Amboise. The original design of the Chateau de Chambord is attributed, though with some doubt, to Domenico da Cortona; Leonardo da Vinci may also have been involved.... view details
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