There have been an astonishing 100,000 castles throughout European history, and today there are enough left for people to make the journey to see the magnificent wonderland that once was. Today, we will go into the world’s most famous castles, may be able to for your next year’s “castle exploration” trip in advance layout.
Since the Middle Ages, castles have carried the ultimate fantasy of mystery and romance. For centuries, the image of castles in fairy tales and legends has been deeply rooted in people’s minds. Whether it’s the hidden realms of Gothic literature or the perfect utopias, castles have long existed in people’s minds as an escape from the dystopia of the world.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
- Map: Neuschwansteinstraße 20, 87645 Schwangau
- Opening: 9am – 6pm
If there is a ranking of the world’s existing castles, then Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle is undoubtedly the first place.
Nestled in the green hills of the Bavarian Alps in the small village of Hohenschwangau, it is like a dream castle in the legend of medieval knights, shrouded in mystery and far away from the hustle and bustle of the world, and is said to be the “closest thing to a fairy tale”, which is the inspiration for Disney’s logo and Sleeping Beauty’s castle.
The castle was built in the 19th century by the young Bavarian King Ludwig II, a romantic king at odds with the world of politics, who was looking for the perfect world of his imagination in the beautiful silence of the Alps, and Neuschwanstein became his Garden of Eden. The castle is surrounded by beautiful and romantic lakes and waterfalls, and the Alpsee lake, which is close by, looks like a mirror set in the meadow, where swans and many waterfowls still play in the water, and it seems as if everything is still in the 19th century on that sunny and warm afternoon.
There is hardly any other place in the world like this, at the same time have such a beautiful natural idyll, and such a stunning historical sites, not only can enjoy the castle inside and outside of the magnificent architecture and decoration, but also in the Bavarian region to see the picturesque idyll, as if the real into the fairy tale.
Was built in 1869, Neuschwanstein Castle is an example of European historicism and one of the last major palace buildings of the 19th century. Today it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
Mont Saint-Michel Castle, France
- Map: 50170 Mont Saint-Michel
- Opening: 9.30am – 6.30pm
France’s World Heritage Site – Mont Saint-Michel has always been one of the must-visit destinations. It is a rocky island about 1 km off the coast of Normandy with a famous abbey – castle built on its summit, making it both a famous tourist attraction and a pilgrimage site. In the 8th century, a church castle dedicated to the Archangel Michel was built on the highest part of the island, so it is called the Castle of Mont Saint-Michel, which is still known as a holy place in France.
Only 900 metres in circumference, this rocky island made of granite will be surrounded by seawater when the tide rises, becoming an isolated island, the conical church of St. Michel on the top of the hill is like a huge chalice floating in the sea, the church’s Gothic spire soaring into the clouds, the top of the golden statue of St. Michel holding a sword pointed straight up to the sky, a heaven on earth in general, the world of its own. Slowly approaching, as if by mistake into the mirage.
Walking up the only road in the Château de Mont-Saint-Michel, the steep and not so wide main road is lined with old houses inherited from the Middle Ages, strolling here is like travelling back to Europe hundreds of years ago. Once inside the castle, the atmosphere changes from cosy to solemn and serene, with the huge fortress towering in front of you, waiting in silence for people to explore the intricate architecture and history of the place.
Mont Saint-Michel has been a source of inspiration for artists and writers over the centuries, and has therefore featured in many literary works and films, such as in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: The Return of the King or on the cover of Jay Chou’s album ‘Greatest Work of All’. In 1979, UNESCO inscribed Mont Saint-Michel and its bay on the World Heritage List, attracting more than 2.5 million visitors and pilgrims from all over the world each year to enjoy its magnificent scenery and rich history.
Prague Castle, Czech Republic
- Map: Hradčany Street, 119 08 Prague 1
- Opening: 6am – 10pm
If Neuschwanstein is the jewel of the Alps and Mont St Michel is the pearl embraced by the waters of the Bay of St Malo, then Prague Castle in the Czech Republic is the closest thing to life in the midst of the downtown area.
Prague with its fairy tale filter, can be said to be the most “European” city in the hearts of countless people. This city also has the world’s largest castle – Prague Castle. Prague Castle was built in 880 by Duke Borivoy I of Bohemia of the Przemysl dynasty. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle complex in the world, covering an area of about 70,000 square metres.
Situated on the west bank of the Vltava River, Prague Castle is the highest point in the city, and from its walls, we can see the reddish-orange medieval rooftops of the city, the Charles Bridge, and the Vltava River. In the Castle, there are churches, the Golden Lane – where the Alchemists lived and the Czech Palace – where the kings of the Bohemia lived. One can spend a whole day in the courtyards, palaces, museums, and gardens, and appreciate the most amazing works of artists and architects.
Prague Castle is a thousand years old, where time seems to stand still, the fairytale houses and the Baroque courtyards still bloom, echoing this ancient and romantic city.
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
- Map: Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, Scotland, UK
- Opening: 9.30am – 5pm
Grey, deep and mottled, Edinburgh Castle seems to be different from most of the bright and flamboyant castles. It is located in rainy Edinburgh, Scotland, the whole tone is from the medieval dark wind, located in Edinburgh city on the top of the rock, no matter where you are in the city centre, as long as you look up you can see it.
Walking around Edinburgh will make you feel like you’re strolling through the lens of a film every moment of the day; it’s the birthplace of Harry Potter, the wizarding world written by J.K. Rowling. Perpetually rainy, coupled with the heavy sense of atmosphere of medieval architecture, every visitor to the city is overwhelmed by the sense of fatalism that hangs over it, and one of the most impressive things to see must be the ancient Edinburgh Castle, the spiritual symbol of Scotland.
This ancient castle standing on the top of a dead volcano’s rock is not as fairytale-like as the stereotypical castle. Edinburgh Castle belongs to the defensive castle, through countless wars, but also witnessed from the 12th century to the 16th century Scottish royal court life and the legend of the past, its soul imprinted with the desolation of the North and perseverance, a hundred years as one day to guard this land. Today, people can still walk into Edinburgh Castle and enjoy the glorious history of the past.
Château de Chillon, Switzerland
- Map: Av. de Chillon 21, 1820 Veytaux, Switzerland
- Opening: 10am – 5pm
Chillon Castle is a medieval water castle in western Switzerland. Chillon means “stone” in French, and perhaps it gets its name from the huge rock that juts out from the shore of the lake where it is located. Compared with the above castles, no matter the size or appearance, Chillon is dwarfed but its uniqueness lies in the backdrop of the stunning Lake Geneva, nature and humanities reflecting each other.
Byron came to visit Chillon Castle in 1816 and created the immortal poem “The Prisoner of Chillon” because of this history. When you come here, you will feel that every brick and tile of the castle is telling past, you will imagine those hundreds of years ago through the narrow windows gathered at the top of the castle sweeping in the narrow surface of the lake, and can’t help but a burst of sadness.
It’s hell. Imagine a prisoner confined to the castle’s dungeon, a wall away from freedom, only able to see the faint light cast through the skylight and listen in despair to the sound of water lapping against the rocks. As depicted in Byron’s poem, “Whether or not there are still shackles and chains on me, I have learnt to love despair.”
But Château de Chillon which has stood here since Roman times, is also built on a rocky islet facing the glistening waters of Lake Geneva on one side, and with a backdrop of towering mountains on the other. The year-round wind and sunshine of Lake Geneva add to the vitality of this mysterious castle on the water, but when visitors look back after touring the interior of the castle and learning about the twists and turns of its history, the sense of shock is inevitable, and all that remains is a sense of awe at the drop in the ocean of time and history.
These world’s most famous castles in Europe are not only full of history, but also leave behind a variety of psychedelic colourful legends in which to travel through, marvel at its beauty at the same time, but also worth the time to precipitate, savour.