Few structures are as instantly identifiable, not to mention fascinating, as a castle. Whether they’re built to fortify a position or accommodate a powerful figure, there’s no mistaking those sturdy stone walls and sprawling courtyards. If you want to see such things, Europe is the place to be. From there, it’s simply a matter of choosing where to start. That’s where we come in. Today, we present six European castles sure to take your breath away.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Hohenschwangau, Germany
The hills surrounding Hohenschwangau are a beautiful sight in their own right. Nevertheless, they pale in comparison to the towering form of Neuschwanstein Castle. The structure was conceived as a retreat for King Ludwig II of Bavaria, with its design inspired by the works of Richard Wagner. Development began in 1869, but came to a halt with King Ludwig’s death in 1886. The palace, though unfinished, was subsequently opened to the public, and has served as an awe-inspiring attraction ever since.
Culzean Castle, Maybole, Scotland
Scotland has no shortage of fascinating castles. That said, Culzean Castle is one you can’t afford to miss. Construction was ordered by David Kennedy, the tenth Earl of Cassilis, and overseen by architect Robert Adam. The result was a handsome L-shaped castle, complete with a walled garden and stunning interior decor. What’s more, the castle houses a WWI era plane propeller, as well as an alleged seven ghosts. Whether you’re thrilled by history and the supernatural, or simply looking to wander the grounds and take in the scenery, Culzean is the place to be.
Corvin Castle, Hunedoara, Romania
Corvin Castle is considered one of the Seven Wonders of Romania. Even at a glance, it’s easy to see why. For one, it’s a magnificent example of Renaissance-Gothic architecture, characterized by tall spires and myriad windows. Moreover, Corvin is one of the largest castles in Europe, measuring more than 75,000 square feet. To top things off, the castle holds historical significance; Vlad the Impaler was supposedly imprisoned within its walls by John Hunyadi, the then Voivode of Transylvania.
Chillon Castle, Veytaux, Switzerland
You’ll find Chillon Castle in the canton of Vaud, right on the edge of Lake Geneva. The site has served various purposes over the years, ranging from a Roman outpost to a sixteenth century prison. To boot, the castle has enchanted several prolific writers: Rousseau, Dumas, and Byron, to name a few. Nowadays, Chillon draws in and dazzles visitors from around the world. When you’re among them, make sure you check out the Duke of Savoy’s lavish chambers, as well as Byron’s signature in the dungeon.
Conwy Castle, Conwy, Wales
Appearance wise, Conwy is your quintessential castle, complete with merlons, barbicans and a portcullis. Admittedly, the walls and grounds are a little worse for wear. Hardly surprising, though, considering the fortress has stood for more than seven hundred years, and played a part in multiple wars. If you’re interested, Conwy has a rich history to unravel, beginning with Edward I’s conquest of Wales. Or, if you prefer, you can simply take in the view from atop its watchtowers.
Hohenwerfen Castle, Werfen, Austria
Picture this: a mighty fortress from the Middle Ages, framed on either side by rugged mountains. Take a trip to Salzburg, and you’ll find such a sight looming over the town of Werfen. Hohenwerfen Castle rests atop a precipice more than two thousand feet high, flanked by the Berchtesgaden Alps on one side and the Tennen Mountains on the other. It’s a bit of a hike, but what awaits at the top is well worth the effort.