30 Most Beautiful Medieval Castles in the World

30 Most Beautiful Medieval Castles in the World
© Tomas Marek | Dreamstime.com

Castles, fortresses, ruins – the Middle Ages still have their special charm today. Where else can you immerse yourself in the time of princesses, knights and damsels? Wandering through ruins and inventing stories about dragons?

In addition to the approximate chronological aspect of the Middle Ages, we have based our listing of castles mainly on their appearance and have only included facilities that have a clearly visible fortified character.

So here is our list of the 30 most beautiful medieval castles in the world.

30. Eltz Castle, Germany

 Eltz Castle, Germany
© Xantana | Dreamstime.com

Its location is unique: hidden in a side valley of the Moselle, built on a 70 m high rock, surrounded on three sides by the Elzbach and surrounded by a natural paradise, it allows the perfect medieval dream.

The greatest attraction of Eltz Castle is its architecture: with its eight residential towers up to 35 meters high, its oriels, roofs, half-timbering and spires, it is for the spontaneous observer the epitome of a knight’s castle, indeed the “castle par excellence”.

The inner courtyard of the castle brings together 500 years of Eltz building history (from 1150 to 1650) at a glance and tells the colorful and often complicated story of the coexistence of three Eltz family tribes in a very confined space.

The guided tour through the interiors of the castle with its varied architecture and authentic, complete and valuable furnishings is the centerpiece of the “Burg Eltz Experience”. For the guests, life in the Middle Ages and early modern times becomes comprehensible.

The armory and treasure chamber of Eltz Castle is considered one of the most important of its kind in Europe. It contains precious gold and silversmith’s work, porcelain, jewelry, glass, ivory, coins, curios and weapons from 850 years of family ownership.

The Knights’ Hall is the most important room of the castle, it is characterized by the heavy ceiling, the original coat of arms frieze, the important armors and the jester’s heads symbolizing the freedom of speech. Here the lords of all three Eltz lines met “on business”, here the festivities were also celebrated.

Eltz Castle is considered the epitome of the German knight’s castle. It has remained family owned and undestroyed over the centuries. Its history is rich in myths and events, important personalities and great art.

29. Eilean Donan, Scotland

Eilean Donan, Scotland
© Alfiofer | Dreamstime.com

A visit to the Scottish castle is a must on a trip along Scotland’s west coast. Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most photographed castles in the country, a Scottish icon and famous as the filming location of the cinema classic “Highlander”, The location at the intersection of three lochs is so uniquely beautiful that the facility is repeatedly used as a backdrop for film and TV productions, including “James Bond – the world is not enough” and “Braveheart”.

The castle is enthroned on a small island, which is completely surrounded by the sea at high tide. Then Eilean Donan can only be reached via the stone bridge, which is almost as famous as the castle itself.

Already in the 6th century people settled here, a fortress was built in the 13th century and was for many centuries the seat of the Clan MacKenzie and also in the meantime of the Clan Macrae. It was destroyed and rebuilt many times. The building, which presents itself to the visitors today, originates in larger parts from the 1930s.

At Eilean Donan Castle you are never alone, yet a very special atmosphere lies over this place and a visit is definitely worthwhile. The guided tours are also a special experience when the guide, stylishly dressed in a kilt, leads you through the building with a lot of Scottish storytelling and tongue lashing and tells you numerous exciting stories.

28. Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle
© John Pavel | Dreamstime.com

Edinburgh has probably the most famous fortress in Scotland, whose history is firmly linked with that of the country. There is evidence that fortifications have stood on this site since as early as the 6th century, and were first developed into a castle on a larger scale in the 11th century.

The castle in its present form has not much in common with its original shape – over the centuries, as with all defensive structures, it has adapted to the current warfare.

Some of the older buildings (built before the 17th century) have been incorporated into the present castle or can be found within the complex. Visit the Great Hall, built under James IV between 1503 and 1511, and the Royal Apartments. Especially worth seeing are the Birth Room of James VI and the room where the Scottish insignia of power are stored and can be viewed.

The history of the castle is – as already mentioned – closely connected with the fate of the Scottish nation. The Stone of Destiny is kept here after it was returned to the Scots by the British Prime Minister in 1996 after 700 years of existence in England. The stone, which has a great mythological role in the coronation ritual, was brought to Westminster (London) in 1296 by Edward I of England as spoils of war. It is exhibited together with the Scottish Crown Jewels in the Royal Palace part of the castle. Here you can see the crown and scepter worn by Mary Queen of Scots at her coronation.

27. Bran Castle, Romania

Bran Castle
© Janos Gaspar | Dreamstime.com

The old walls rise mightily above the roofs of the town of the same name, Bran in Transylvania. A gloomy atmosphere surrounds the castle and sends a cold shiver down the spine of many a guest. Because who does not know it, the novel character of the Irish writer Bram Stoker, who is said to have lived in Bran Castle. Count Dracula is considered the “forefather of all vampires” and the “most bloodthirsty vampire” in Romania. The historical model for Bram Stoker’s novel character is considered to be Vlad III Dracula, a Wallachian prince who spread fear and terror among his enemies through his penchant for impalements.

The legend of the Dracula Castle in Transylvania arose because Bran Castle is the only castle in all of Transylvania that matches Bram Stoker’s description in almost every detail.

Bran Castle was originally intended as a border and defense fortress. It was built high up on a rock, overlooking the gorge and the road connecting Transylvania with Wallachia. Initially, the castle had a rectangular ground plan. However, many structural changes were made to Bran Castle over time. The southern tower was built in 1622, then the rectangular tower on the eastern side of the fortress was completed and the roofs were covered with the well-known red tiles between 1883 and 1886.

After Bran Castle became the property of the Romanian Queen Maria in 1920, the fortress was transformed into a kind of hunting lodge by her court architect, Karl Liman. Queen Maria loved Bran Castle and it was her favorite residence for a long time. After her death, her daughter Ileana inherited the castle. The original architect of the fortress is not known.

Bran Castle is today the most popular tourist attraction in the whole Romania.

26. Kilkenny Castle, Ireland

Kilkenny Castle and Gardens, Kilkenny, Ireland
© Bjoern Alberts | Dreamstime.com

The lofty castle was built between 1195 and 1213 and served to defend the ford through the River Nore and the trade routes in the county. Parts of the old moat and the 4 strong corner towers are still preserved today and date back to the Normans.

Already Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, also known as Strongbow, had a wooden motte built on this site, but it was destroyed in 1171. Even the stone, first castle is only preserved in parts, excavations in the 1990s brought parts of this castle to light. Strongbow’s wife, the king’s daughter Aoife MacMurrough was buried in the crypt of Kilkenny Castle.

In 1661 the building was rebuilt as a modern castle by James Butler, following the example of the Normandy castles. After that the building was left to decay for a long time, small restorations and reconstructions were carried out until the 1930s by the Butler family, who owned the castle for over 570 years.

After 30 years of vacancy, in 1967 the Irish state acquired it at a symbolic price, restored the structure and then opened it to visitors.

25. Mont-Saint-Michel, France

Mont-Saint-Michel, France
© Minnystock | Dreamstime.com

Mont Saint-Michel impresses with a legendary silhouette, which is characterized by the abbey perched on the mountain. The first sacred building was commissioned as early as the 8th century and construction of the monastery, which still exists today, began as early as 1017.

In the Middle Ages, the island experienced its first heyday as a popular pilgrimage site. The faithful flocked here in droves and numerous children’s pilgrimages had the island in Normandy as their destination. The abbey’s writing room was known and appreciated far beyond the borders of the country. During the Hundred Years’ War, English enemies were never able to take the castle, because mighty walls protected the abbey and its inhabitants from invasion.

During the French Revolution, the monastery was turned into a prison and was used for the detention of various opponents of the regime. It was not until Emperor Napoleon III that the village was restored to approximately the condition it is in now.

How impressive the small island is, you can already see well on photos. But if you then make your way up on foot via the causeway and the footbridge, you will almost feel in awe of this unique structure. Once inside the castle walls, a world of its own begins on the Grand Rue, which you may not find anywhere else.

Inside the castle walls, you feel like you’ve been transported to another time. Especially when side clouds waft through the narrow alleys and a dim light illuminates them only dimly, you feel as if you have been transported to another time.

24. Windsor Castle, England

Windsor castle and large park, England
© Irishka777 | Dreamstime.com

About 30 km west of the British capital, in the gently rolling countryside of the historic county of Royal Berkshire, lies the small town of Windsor, population 25,000. Here on the upper reaches of the Thames rises one of the most historic buildings in Great Britain: Windsor Castle.

The castle is the official main residence of the British monarch. As exclusive as Windsor Castle is due to this function, it can fortunately also be experienced by guests. With a day ticket, you too can secure your entrance to Windsor Castle. Many of the state rooms furnished with precious furniture, the park and the castle chapel can be visited and marveled at. And the city of Windsor itself and other destinations in its vicinity offer numerous opportunities for inspiring encounters with culture and nature.

With a floor area of 5.5 hectares square, Windsor Castle, considered the largest British castle, has been constantly expanded and rebuilt throughout its almost thousand-year history. Incidentally, no other castle in the world has been continuously inhabited longer than Windsor Castle.

Today, the castle grounds of Windsor Castle present themselves as an extensive ensemble of Gothic buildings, mainly modernized in the Georgian and Victorian architectural styles, divided into three courtyards.

In the center, the 24-meter-high Round Tower, built in the 14th century and rebuilt in the early 19th century, dominates Windsor Castle’s appearance. The bell tower and the core of St Georges’s Chapel are similarly old. King Edward II had this chapel built in the 14th century.

The magnificent church building is one of the repeatedly used central traditional places of the British royal families. Many high noble weddings, but also funerals and other royal ceremonies took place here.

23. Castel del Monte, Italy

Castel del Monte
© Kromatikanet | Dreamstime.com

During a tour of the Murge plateau, which stretches across the center of Puglia, a visit to Castel del Monte, located on a hill about 15 kilometers south of the center of the town of Andria, is a must. Built in the mid-13th century on the orders of the Roman-German emperor Frederick II, known by many contemporaries as “The Astonishment of the World,” this fort is remarkable in many ways

Despite its fortress-like appearance at first glance, Castel del Monte, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is not a fortified structure. It lacks typical fortress elements such as embrasures, ammunition rooms or barracks. Due to the scarcity of sources, it can only be assumed whether Frederick II commissioned the building as a pleasure or hunting lodge, as a contemplative retreat or as a stone symbol of Hohenstaufen power in Italy.

The principle of eight repeated several times in the limestone building is remarkable. The ground plan is octagonal, the courtyard is octagonal and there is a 24 meter high tower at each of the eight corners.

By the way, you can easily put the fort in your pocket: It is the motif on the back of the Italian one cent coins.

22. Alhambra, Spain

Alhambra in Granada
© Sorin Colac | Dreamstime.com

Construction of the Alhambra began in the 9th century, but a large part of the complex was not built until the 14th century by the Nazarite kings Yusuf I and Muhammad V. At first it served as a guard and lookout point, later it was transformed into a palace complex.

In the palaces, towers and walls as well as gardens of the Alhambra, visitors get an impression of times long past with all their stories and legends.

The Alhambra consists of three parts: The citadel (Alcazaba), the palaces of the Nazarites and the gardens in front (Generalife).

Among the most important palaces are the Palace of Mexuar (Palacio del Mexuar) and the Palace of Comares (Palacio de Comares) with the Myrtle Courtyard and the Hall of Envoys. Probably the most famous place in the Alhambra is the Court of the Lions (Patio de los Leones). It is named after the twelve lions that surround the fountain in the center of the courtyard.

After the Spanish conquest, Charles V ordered the construction of a Renaissance palace to begin on the site of the Alhambra, but it was never completed. Today it houses the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Muslim Art.

The gardens and buildings of the Islamic rulers, however, are considered the most beautiful testimonies of Moorish architecture in Europe. Slender columns, openwork forms and imaginative stucco decorations characterize the buildings, harmonious plantings and water features the gardens. A walk through the grounds of the Alhambra is like a fairy tale from 1001 nights.

21. Vianden Castle, Luxembourg

Vianden Castle
© Stefano Zaccaria | Dreamstime.com

Overlooked by an imposing castle, Vianden is one of the most culturally interesting towns in Luxembourg. The magnificent buildings of the castle, which date back to the Middle Ages, the late Romanesque chapel and the small and large political palace attract numerous visitors to the picturesque town every year.

Vianden Castle was built from the 11th to the 14th century on the foundations of a Roman fort and a Carolingian refuge. Influenced by the Hohenstaufen dynasty, the castle palace is one of the largest and most beautiful feudal residences of the Romanesque and Gothic periods in Europe.

Until the 15th century, the castle was the residence of the powerful Counts of Vianden, who boasted of their relations with the German imperial court. In 1417, the county and the castle were inherited by the younger line of the German House of Nassau, which also incorporated the French principality of Orange in 1530.

The chapel, the small Pallas, the most remarkable rooms of the castle, were built towards the end of the 12th century and during the first half of the 13th century. The Jülich Building, west of the Great Palace, dates back to the beginning of the 17th century, and the Nassau Building was built at the beginning of the 17th century. In 1820, under the reign of King William I of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange-Nassau, Count of Vianden, the sale of the castle and its subsequent dismantling into its component parts, led to its ruin.

 In 1890, the castle fell to Grand Duke Adolf, of the older line of the House of Nassau, and remained in the possession of the Grand Ducal family. After the castle became state property in 1977, it was restored to its former glory and is now one of the most important architectural monuments in Europe.

20. Château de Suscinio, France

Château de Suscinio, France
© Xantana | Dreamstime.com

Suscinio Castle was first mentioned in 1218. It dates back to the 13th century and was continuously expanded until the late 15th century. The complex was one of the most used hunting castles of the Breton dukes, whose duchy was always independent of the French king. As the wars broke out, the dukes began to expand the castle into an imposing fortress. The Hundred Years’ War and the War of the Breton Succession ensure that the construction work proceeds at a rapid pace. In 1532, the dynasty signs a union treaty with King Francis I, uniting their owners with France. From the French Revolution 1789-1799 Suscinio is mentioned as a ruin.

Suscinio Castle is located on the south coast of Brittany, south of Vannes. In the Middle Ages, the rather compact castle was located directly on the sea and had moats that were fed with water directly from the sea. Since 1966, Suscinio was restored and a museum was integrated, occupying the interior of the buildings.

Suscinio today consists of a powerful circular wall, as well as a large gate building and several towers protruding from the wall alignment. Today, as in the past, access is from the east. A small stone bridge ends shortly before the gate and changed into a drawbridge, which was protected from both sides by flanking towers. Of the former drawbridge, the running holes for the chains can still be seen above the gate. A small niche in the masonry behind it indicates the use of an additional portcullis.

From the atmosphere Suscinio Castle appears very pleasant and for the most part also imposing. With its powerful appearance, the complex is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the region and therefore always well visited.

19. Malbork Castle, Poland

Malbork Castle, Poland
© Dennis Dolkens | Dreamstime.com

The largest brick building in Europe is located in Poland. About 60 kilometers southeast of Gdansk lies the city of Malbork. The castle of the same name, situated on the Nogat, an estuary of the Vistula, was the seat of the Grand Masters of the Teutonic Order from 1309 to 1454.

After it was largely destroyed during the Second World War, the Polish state had Malbork Castle rebuilt. Since December 7, 1997, the entire Castle in Malbork has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, the medieval castle complex can be visited all year round.

The Malbork Castle can be divided into three large groups of buildings, with different tasks assigned to the buildings of each group. Therefore, the outer castle, the middle castle and the high castle were also designed very differently from an architectural point of view.

18. Trakai Island Castle, Lithuania

Trakai Island Castle, Lithuania
© Lukas Jonaitis | Dreamstime.com

Trakai Castle is one of the most visited and most photographed sights in the Baltic States. There is no tour or travel guide that would do without it, and not without reason. The late medieval castle complex from the 14th century lies picturesquely in the middle of the surrounding lake landscape, embedded in a magnificent natural ensemble.

Accessible only by a narrow bridge, Trakai Castle sits picturesquely on an islet in Lake Galvé. Here in southeastern Lithuania, the 14th-century castle was long the seat of the principality and today houses a museum. According to legend, Prince Kestutis built the water castle for his wife Birute, who missed the water of their home in Palanga on the Baltic Sea.

Trakai Castle was the scene of several battles, including the one between Prince Vytautas and Władysław II. Jagiełło for the title of Grand Duke of Lithuania. However, as early as 1410, the castle lost its importance and fell into disrepair before being lovingly restored at the beginning of the 20th century.

17. Bodiam Castle, England

Bodiam Castle, England
© Grzegorz Kielbasa | Dreamstime.com

Bodiam Castle is a 14th century moated castle near Robertsbridge in East Sussex , England. It was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a former knight of Edward III, ostensibly to defend the area from a French invasion during the Hundred Years War.

The square building has no donjon (residential tower). The various chambers were built around the outer walls and courtyards. Its corners and entrance are marked by towers and crowned by battlements. The structure, details and construction in an artificial water landscape was an important aspect to the design and as well as the defense of the castle. It was the home of the Dalyngrigge family and the seat of the manor of Bodiam.

With the beginning of the English Civil War in 1641, Bodiam Castle was owned by John Tufton. He sold the castle to pay fines imposed on him by Parliament. The castle was subsequently dismantled and became a picturesque ruin until it was purchased by John Fuller in 1829.

Under his aegis the castle was partially restored before being sold to George Cubitt, 1st Baron Ashcombe, and later to Lord Curzon, both of whom undertook further restoration work. The castle is preserved and protected with Grade I listed buildings. It was given to the National Trust by Lord Curzon on his death in 1925 and is now open to the public.

16. Hohenwerfen Castle, Austria

Hohenwerfen Castle, Austria
© Saiko3p | Dreamstime.com

Hohenwerfen Fortress, whose construction was initiated by Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg (1060-1088) between 1075 and 1078, is located in Salzburg’s Pongau region in the midst of the northern Limestone Alps. It is comparable in its layout to the Hohensalzburg Fortress, which was built in the same years. The castle is enthroned, very clearly visible from the north and south, on a 155 m high rock cone above the Salzach valley at the northern end of the market town of Werfen.

The mighty defensive structure is considered one of the best preserved buildings from the late Middle Ages. Over the centuries, it has repeatedly been the scene of attacks and sieges.

Hohenwerfen served the Archbishops of Salzburg not only as a military base, but also as a residence and hunting seat. The fortress was expanded in the 12th century, and smaller reconstructions and new buildings were added until the 16th century.

The castle was also used as a state prison and therefore got a rather nasty reputation. The prison witnessed the tragic fate of numerous “criminals”. Various high-ranking noblemen and rulers were also prisoners in the castle, such as Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau.

After the end of the World War, the castle became the property of the province of Salzburg and was used for a time as a training center for the police. Since 1987 it has been open for tourism.

15. Château de Pierrefonds, France

Château de Pierrefonds
© Philippehalle | Dreamstime.com

The Château de Pierrefonds is located in the town of the same name in the Oise department on the southeastern border of the Compiègne forest, just an hour north of Paris. It was built on the site of a former 12th-century manor house of the Nivelon family, powerful at the time, on a steep hill above the town. But it owes its present fairy-tale medieval appearance to the architect Viollet-le-Duc, who had the ruins rebuilt to his design for Napoleon III in the second half of the 19th century.

The palace never became an imperial residence. Since 1867 it has been a museum and open to the public. It is managed by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux.

Château de Pierrefonds has 8 towers decorated with statues of the so-called Preux (brave heroes or warriors) and whose names they bear. The tour lasts about 90 minutes and begins in the Court of Honor with different styles of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

From here you can see, among other things, the buildings with the ceremonial rooms, the chapel and the keep. In the latter there is a reception room decorated with rich decorations, the study decorated with the emblems of the emperors Napoleon I (bee) and III (eagle) and their wives.

On the desk there is a bust of the architect.  Also, a flush toilet was installed here. The emperor’s room was originally designed as a bedchamber, but since the palace did not become a residence, but a museum never used as such.

14. Corvin Castle, Romania

Corvin Castle - Hunedoara, Transylvania, Romania
© Emicristea | Dreamstime.com

The Corvin castle was built in 1440 by Johann Hunyadi on the site of an old fortification. In the second construction phase after 1458, the castle was extended under King Matthias Corvinus. At the beginning of the 17th century, under Prince Gábor Bethlen, further major alterations were made to the structure. The present castle shows a mixture of different architectural styles.

The castle stands west of the old town of Hunedoara on a rock with an area of about 7,000 square meters. The structure is enclosed by the Zlasti River on the west and south sides. On the east and south side a large moat encloses the castle. Parts of the front enclosing wall around the so-called “Hussar’s Court”, which was built at some distance from the castle bridge, are still preserved.

In 1974 the castle museum was opened. At the beginning it housed medieval pieces. The collections were later expanded to include archaeology, ethnology, decorative arts and old books. Since 1990 the museum has also been dealing with Dacian and Roman history.

The castle was first in Austrian possession since 1724 and has been in Romanian state ownership since 1918.

13. Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, France

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, France
© Leonid Andronov | Dreamstime.com

The Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg is of course a particularly attractive motif and offers the opportunity for numerous historical detail shots. There is the possibility to join a guided tour or to discover the castle on your own.

The fact that the historic building is so well preserved and open to visitors today is due in no small part to the German Emperor Wilhelm II. After being besieged and pillaged by the Swedes during the Thirty Years’ War, the castle lay in ruins for more than 250 years until the emperor had it rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century. He decided to make the castle a symbol of the resurrected empire and commissioned the Berlin architect Bodo Ebhardt to reconstruct the building as faithfully as possible in the style of the Tierstein era.

The masonry of the castle was reconstructed until 1908 on the basis of an exact analysis of the building, numerous archive pictures and extensive excavation work.

As a contemporary witness of moving history in the border triangle and landmark of the region, the Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg has become one of the most visited sights in France.

French state property since 1919, the castle now houses a unique collection of furniture and weapons from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. In addition, in the medieval garden, visitors can discover almost forgotten cultivated and medicinal plants on an area of 500 m².

12. Fenis Castle, Italy

Fenis Castle, Italy
© Zanico | Dreamstime.com

A perfect embodiment of the history of the Valle d’Aosta and an ideal medieval fortress at the foot of the Alps, the Castello di Fénis dominated its territory since the 12th century under the control of the highest noble family of the Aosta Valley, the Challant family.

The Castello di Fénis was built in several construction cycles from the late 12th to the 15th century. Although it has no natural defenses and stands in the plain, its crenellated walls and its towers guard the nearby main roads, which have existed since Roman times. Its main purpose was probably not to be a defense center, but rather the prestigious and magnificent administrative seat of the Challant-Fénis family.

11. Castillo de Coca, Spain

Castillo de Coca, Spain
© Absente | Dreamstime.com

This military fortress covered with pink brick is considered the prototype of the Castilian stately castle of the fifteenth century and is one of the most majestic in the country. As if it were a cathedral, it is also a work of art in Gothic-Mudejar style. In fact, it was built in 1453 by a religious man: Alonso de Fonseca, bishop of Avila and archbishop of Seville, then lord of Coca.

It is a plain castle: that is the reason for the spectacular nature of its moat, with a perimeter of 560 meters, which is crossed by a fixed bridge. The rooms are organized around a parade ground consisting of a double gallery of marble columns of Corinthian order, and with floors and walls covered with tiles and plasterwork.

It can be visited together with the chapel, the weapons room and the museum room, with the legacy of the original palace of Renaissance decoration. After its medieval splendor and usefulness, which lasted until modern times, it was abandoned until the beginning of the 20th century. In 1928 it was declared a National Monument and became part of the Spanish artistic treasure.

10. Alcazár of Segovia, Spain

Alcazár of Segovia, Spain
© Sorin Colac | Dreamstime.com

High above the confluence of the Río Eresma and Río Clamores towers the medieval fortress of Segovia. It looks like a mixture of a knight’s castle and an enchanted palace.

The striking Alcazár (Castle) is today one of the most famous castles in Spain and is much visited.

Construction of the Alcazár of Segovia probably began in the 11th century, after the city was taken by Christians and drove out the Moors. The order to build the Alcazár was given by Alfonso VI, and its strategic location on a narrow ridge between the Eresma and Clamores rivers meant that it was not necessary to build a moat, as was common at the time.

In the course of the next centuries, the Alcazár of Segovia was from time to time the residence of the Spanish kings. Thus, the rulers of the castle complex repeatedly had their own building ideas implemented, which ultimately gave the castle its current appearance.

9. Karlštejn, Czech Republic

Karlštejn, Czech Republic
© Jaroslavavolrabova | Dreamstime.com

30 kilometers southwest of Prague, nestled in the imposing forest landscape of the Bohemian Karst, lies Karlstein Castle. It is closely connected with the history of Prague and Bohemia and sits majestically on a limestone rock. It is the most famous castle in the Czech Republic and a magnet for visitors.

Karlstein Castle was named after its builder Charles IV. It was not built for strategic military purposes, as the fortified exterior of the castle suggests at first glance, but to store the Czech coronation insignia.

Through the Burggrafenhof, one reaches the four-story, late Gothic Burggrafenhaus, which is located on the south side. At the outer west end of Karlstein Castle are the former farm buildings and the water tower with a 90-meter-deep well and large scoop wheel. From the Burggrafenhof, one enters the narrow castle courtyard through a large gate.

Here, on the right side, is the imperial palace, to whose banqueting hall on the second floor a magnificent flight of steps leads. On the second floor are the imperial apartments and the study, which is particularly striking for its valuable wood paneling.

To the north, opposite Karlstein Castle, stands the Marian Tower, on the second floor of which is the Chapter Church of St. Mary. It has a beautifully decorated beamed ceiling and remains of the 14th century wall paintings. In the southwest corner of the tower there is also the small Chapel of St. Catherine, which was reserved exclusively for the emperor. He often retreated here for prayer.

8. Osaka Castle, Japan

Osaka Castle in Osaka
© Sean Pavone | Dreamstime.com

Osaka Castle was one of the largest Japanese fortresses. It was built in 1583, on the site of the destroyed Honganji Temple. Toyotomi Hideyoshi used the castle as a central distribution facility, with the goal of unifying Japan.

After Hideyoshi’s death, Ieyasu Tokugawa seized power and proclaimed himself shogun. In the summer of 1615, when the Toyotomi family had fallen from grace, Tokugawa’s troops destroyed the castle.

Tokugawa had the castle rebuilt of wood, but the tower burned down again in 1665 after a lightning strike.

In 1931, the castle tower was reconstructed with the help of a citizens’ initiative. However, it was only reconstructed from the original exterior. Inside there is concrete, an elevator and a museum about the castle history. An observation deck is located on the 8th floor, from which visitors can look over the whole of Osaka.

Osaka Castle is completely surrounded by defensive towers, defensive walls and a large moat. Also on the castle grounds is the Nishinomaru Garden, which is a worthwhile destination, especially in early April during cherry blossom season. The garden features a tea house, 600 cherry trees and the former Osaka Guest House. Unlike the rest of the site, the garden is chargeable.

Also on the castle grounds are a Japanese garden, an arena (Osakajo Hall), and the Hokokujinja Shrine, dedicated to the spirit of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

7. Himeji Castle, Japan

Himeji Castle, Japan
© Noppakun | Dreamstime.com

The imposing castle walls of the architecturally beautifully designed Himeji Castle gleam brilliant white. Built as early as the 14th century, the impressive Himeji Castle was always considered impregnable. Explore Himeji Castle, one of the oldest structures in Japan and a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site. This castle is a historical and architectural highlight of any visit to Japan and should not be missed. Especially since March 2015, a visit to Himeji Castle is worthwhile, because after extensive restoration work, the walls of the castle are now bright white again.

Also of interest are the defenses of Himeji Castle. This was considered impregnable for a long time, a fact that has actually never changed. This is because the interior of the castle conceals intricately designed passageways that clearly surpass even the 14th century outer wall in terms of security. Especially the three high watchtowers of Himeji Castle are connected by corridors, which are definitely reminiscent of a labyrinth in terms of structure. These corridors were very cleverly designed and can be described as a special form of confusion of all enemies, as a kind of protective wall to make it difficult for the enemies to get to the keep and also to the highest watchtower.

6. Warwick Castle, England

Warwick Castle
© Madrugadaverde | Dreamstime.com

Warwick Castle has an exciting and warlike history behind it: in 1068 the first castle was built here on the orders of William the Conqueror. It was built of wood with a small moat. By 1220, the wood had been completely replaced by stone and surrounded by a stone wall over 7m high. Finally, in the 14th century, the two large watchtowers were added, which still characterize the image of Warwick Castle today. At the end of the 15th century, Richard III ordered the construction of the third tower.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, splendor entered Warwick Castle: the living quarters were completely renovated and pompous halls were installed in the public areas. Banquets were constantly held at the castle and even Queen Victoria and Prince Albert came to visit in 1858.

However, maintenance costs rose steadily and in 1978 the Earl of Warwick was forced to sell Warwick Castle. The castle could be rebuilt for visitors and is now one of the most visited sites in England.

5. Örebro Castle, Sweden

Örebro Castle, Sweden
© Markovskiy | Dreamstime.com

However, in the history of Sweden Örebro has taken a strategically important role – it was in the center of the action, so to speak, because of its location.

Örebro city originated in the Middle Ages as a port city for the iron trade. The city is connected to Gothenburg via the inland lake Vänern and the Göta Canal, and to Stockholm via the river Arbogaån and the Mälaren.

Many chapters of Swedish history have been written in front of the meter-thick walls of Örebro Castle, the city’s landmark since the 13th century. For 700 years, the mighty castle, situated on a small island in the middle of the city, has witnessed sieges, imperial diets and encounters between quarrelsome and peaceful contemporaries.

Today, in the Queen’s Tower, visitors can follow the history of Örebro through models and computer animations, and you can even meet historical figures during the scenic tours “Secrets of Wasaburg”.

4. Bouzov Castle, Czech Republic

Bouzov Castle, Czech Republic
© Siloto | Dreamstime.com

This castle in North Moravia is most often used as a film set of all castles and chateaus in the country. Not least because the castle is reminiscent of a “fairy tale castle”. The castle originally dates back to the 14th century, but was rebuilt in the Renaissance style during the 16th century. And in 1696 the Teutonic Knights acquired the complex, which had been partially destroyed in the course of the 30 Years War.

But it got its present appearance in the Romantic style when the “Teutonic Order” had the castle rebuilt in the Romantic style between 1896 and 1901 according to the plans of the Munich architect Georg von Hauberrisser as a summer residence for the then Grand Master Archduke Eugene of Austria. It is located in the North Moravian village of the same name Bouzow in the eastern part of the Czech Republic.

3. La Mota Castle, Spain

La Mota Castle, Spain
© Ivan Soto | Dreamstime.com

It was one of the favorite fortresses of the Catholic Monarchs, who intervened in its construction at the end of the 15th century and turned it into one of the best bastions of the European continent. It is located in Medina del Campo, 50 kilometers from Valladolid, also in Castilla y León, and its imposing figure can be seen from a distance.

Within its walls have been in captivity illustrious characters such as Hernando Pizarro or César Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI, who escaped in 1506 by hanging with ropes from the tower of homage, with a height of 40 meters and five floors, the highest in Castile, a real skyscraper of the time. In 1520 it was one of the targets of the imperial troops of Charles V during the revolt of the comuneros. In addition to being a strategic defensive bastion and presidio, it also housed the archives of the Crown.

The castle, declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in 1904, can be visited. Around the barrier there is a deep moat and in a subway level the shooting galleries for the artillery. The inner enclosure of the fortress consists of five towers and the parade ground.

2. Cochem Castle, Germany

Cochem Castle, Germany
© Sergey Novikov | Dreamstime.com

More than 100 m above the River Moselle, the late Gothic building with its incomparable outline rises on a prominent cone. The outer contour of the towering mountain seems to continue in the building and culminates in the slate roof of the massive tower. The structural condition places the complex in the type of hilltop castles, which, due to the terrain, were set up for all-around defense. Romanesque architectural fragments found in the castle well indicate that the castle was expanded after 1056.

Around this time or earlier, the core of the Romanesque keep was built as a square with an edge length of 5.40 m and a wall thickness of up to 3.50 m. The tower was also raised at the same time. At the same time, the tower was also raised. Moreover, in the first half of the 14th century, the castle and the town were connected with strong walls. In addition, a strong chain was anchored below the castle, which could be operated by a pull rope from the castle to block the River Moselle.

1. Wartburg, Germany

Wartburg Castle, Germany
©olimeg/stock.adobe.com

The Wartburg is located in Thuringia at the northwestern end of the Thuringian Forest, perched on a narrow rocky ridge about 200 meters above the city of Eisenach. It is a castle of the Ludovingian noble family and was founded in 1067 by Louis the Knight, son of Louis the Bearded, ancestor of the Ludovingians. The name Wartburg comes from Warte and means watch castle or guard castle. In the 19th century the Wartburg was completely restored and decorated. In 1999 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Wartburg is an impressive testimony of over 1000 years of German history.

The Wartburg architecture combines the four architectural styles of Romanticism, Gothic, Renaissance and Historicism. The Hofburg with the Palas was built between 1157 and 1170 and reflects the style of the late Romantic period. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the half-timbered buildings of the outer castle were built and are considered Gothic architecture, as is the South Tower or Powder Tower. The Gadem dates back to the Renaissance and was renovated in 1810. The Dirnitz, the New Bower, the Keep and the Knight’s Bath date from the Historicism period (from the middle to the end of the 19th century).