Travel - Locations
By: - at May 27, 2014

Top 15 Famous Castles, Palaces, and Towers

Top 15 Famous Castles, Palaces, and Towers, shown in the picture is the Palace of Versailles.
By Marc Vassal, via Wikimedia Commons

Palaces, castles, and towers still draw interest with their Old World charm in today's tech-savvy world. Most of these structures are found in Europe and Asia with the majority of the buildings located on the European continent. Therefore, if you live in the U.S. and want to see a castle then you’ll need to fly overseas.

While several of the fortresses feature works of art, the structures themselves can also be regarded as masterpieces. The following list features some of the more well-known castles, palaces and towers.


15)  Malbork Castle
Located in Malbork, Poland, the Malbork Castle is the largest structure of its kind in terms of square feet and its the largest brick building in Europe. The construction of the castle started in the 14th century and was completed in 1406 by the Teutonic Knights.

Featuring spectacular scenery, the landscape around the castle is highlighted by a river with lush vegetation and trees set against the rust backdrop of the castle’s walls.

The Malbork Castle Museum also occupies the castle grounds and features a library, an E-museum, conservation programs as well as document digitization. For those who like to study, research can be conducted in the museum’s library.

Exterior of Malbork Castle
Located in Malbork, Poland, the Malbork Castle is the largest structure of its kind in terms of square feet and its the largest brick building in Europe

Tombstones of St. Anne's Chapel Located Inside Malbork Castle
The Malbork Castle Museum also occupies the castle grounds and features a library, an E-museum, conservation programs as well as document digitization.
By Diego Delso, via Wikimedia Commons


14)  Prague Castle
The Prague Castle, located in Prague in the Czech Republic, has been the home of a variety of kings as well as emperors and has served as the official residence of presidents. Secret rooms, fabulous displays of jewelry and art draw a sizable number of tourists annually. Collections, like the Bohemian Crown Jewels are on display and the fortification is built around a number of palatial structures. Churches also surround the castle, including the Church of the Virgin Mary; the first building established in the complex.

In 1514, the castle was damaged by fire. As a result, the architectural style of the structure acquired a more Renaissance look when it was rebuilt rather than the Gothic façade it had possessed in the past.

Featuring grand gardens and a green, lush landscape, the tower’s most popular feature today is the pedestrian tunnel that runs thorough Deer Moat. The moat is a big hit among tourists who trek through the passageway onto the castle grounds.

Prague Castle
The Prague Castle, located in Prague in the Czech Republic, has been the home of a variety of kings as well as emperors and has served as the official residence of presidents. Secret rooms, fabulous displays of jewelry and art draw a sizable number of tourists annually.
By Yair Haklai, via Wikimedia Commons

Vladislav Hall, Inside Prague Castle
Secret rooms, fabulous displays of jewelry and art draw a sizable number of tourists annually in Prague Castle.
By PetrusSilesius, via Wikimedia Commons


13)  Himeji Castle
The Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture in Japan is home to the amazing Himeji Castle. A prime example of castle architecture from the feudal period, Himeji Castle is often referred to as the “White Egret” Castle because its exterior resembles an egret about to take flight.

Known as the oldest castle in the country, the Hemeji fortress has managed to remain standing even after the bombings of the Second World War and a string of earthquakes. Due to its long history and popularity, the castle receives over 820,000 visitors annually and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, . People find that seeing the castle is well worth the long stair climb made up to the castle doors.

The hilltop castle is located about 450 miles west of the capital of Tokyo. If you’re planning to visit Japan then you’ll want to include the Himeji City landmark on your itinerary.

Himeji Castle
The Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture in Japan is home to the amazing Himeji Castle.

Inside the Main Tower of Himeji Castle
Known as the oldest castle in the country, the Hemeji fortress has managed to remain standing even after the bombings of the Second World War and a string of earthquakes
By alisdair, via Wikimedia Commons


12)  Peles Castle
Peles Castle,  located in Sinaia, Romania, is a stunning example of Neo-Renaissance architecture. Erected between 1873 and 1914, this castle was built to be as the summer home of King Carol I.

The large building is made up of 160 rooms and is constructed of stone, marble, bricks as well as wood. The representative style of the castle is German Renaissance but you can also see elements conveying Italian Renaissance, Gothic, German Baroque and French Rococo styles.

The castle is the base for the Peles Museum and features over 4,000 historically significant statues, paintings, tapestries, rugs as well as furniture. Whether you visit the castle museum or merely stroll over the castle’s grounds, you will be impressed by this elaborate stronghold in the heart of Sinaia. Many visitors and photographers like to visit the grounds in the wintertime when the castle takes on the look of a fairytale type dwelling.

Peles Castle
Peles Castle,  located in Sinaia, Romania, is a stunning example of Neo-Renaissance architecture. Erected between 1873 and 1914, this castle was built to be as the summer home of King Carol I.

Interior of Peles Castle


11)  Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle is located in Stirling, Scotland and is considered one of the largest castles in the country. Built on Castle Hill, the fortress and its buildings date back to the 14th to 16th centuries.

Serving as the base for numerous crowning ceremonies, the castle has come under siege many times during its long history. Not only is the building open for tourists, it also serves as a venue for concerts and entertainment.

The castle, which receives almost 400,000 visitors annually, is notably said to be the home of resident ghosts. The colorful apparitions go by the names of the “green lady” and the “pink lady” with the latter believed to be the ghost of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle is located in Stirling, Scotland and is considered one of the largest castles in the country.

The Great Hall, Inside Stirling Castle
 Built on Castle Hill, Stirling Castle and its buildings date back to the 14th to 16th centuries.
By Rab-k , via Wikimedia Commons


10)  Palace of Versailles
Referred to as a palace and chateau, the Palace of Versailles is one of the most beautiful and stunning buildings in the Paris area. Expanded under Louis XIV, or the “Sun King”, the palace features apartments that are themed to depict each of the planets that circle the sun.

Besides the apartments, the palace is also home to the magnificent Hall of Mirrors. The hall is one of the most memorable areas of the palatial structure and it was constructed from 1678 to 1684, it served as a connection to the chateau’s apartments. Designed by architect Jules Hardouin Mansart, the passage showcases 17 mirrored arches that reflect light from the windows overlooking the gardens on the grounds.

The Palace of Versailles is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features 2,300 rooms, 67 staircases as well as 2,153 windows. In it's walls there are 6,000 paintings, 2,000 sculptures and over 15,000 engravings that are currently on display. Musical performances and plays are also featured at the attraction in addition to ambiance of the decor.

Palace of Versailles
Referred to as a palace and chateau, the Palace of Versailles is one of the most beautiful and stunning buildings in the Paris area.
By ToucanWings, via Wikimedia Commons

Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles
Besides the apartments, Versailles Palace is also home to the magnificent Hall of Mirrors.
By Myrabella, via Wikimedia Commons


9)  Spis Castle
Like many of the castles in Europe, the Spis Castle in Slovakia is in ruins and it's another one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. The castle,  constructed in the 12th century, stands in the spot where another castle once stood.

The exterior design of the castle, which was expanded in the 13th to 15th centuries, is that of Romanesque and Romanesque-Gothic designs. The fortress caught fire in 1780, which is why a good part of the structure stands in ruins today.

The castle has served as the site for such films as “The Last Legion” and “Dragonheart”, it features a museum on its grounds today. Archaeological researchers have conducted studies at the location in addition to films being directed there.

Spis Castle
Like many of the castles in Europe, the Spis Castle in Slovakia is in ruins and it's another one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Inside Spis Castle
Spis Castle has served as the site for such films as “The Last Legion” and “Dragonheart”, it features a museum on its grounds today.
By cinnabarr, via DiviantArt


8)  Buda Castle
The Buda Castle is located in Budapest, Hungary and was constructed between the 14th and 20th centuries. One of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, the castle has a long history involving war and reconstruction. The interior of the structure is just as grand as its exterior and features a castle chapel, a gothic hall as well as barrel vaulted rooms. Private royal apartments are also featured within the fortification.

Before its reconstruction, the fortress also showcased a writing room, smoking room and tea room .The Budapest Museum, located inside the structure’s walls, exhibits items that document Budapest history from ancient times to today.

Buda Castle
The Buda Castle is located in Budapest, Hungary and was constructed between the 14th and 20th centuries

Inside the Lower Chapel of Buda Castle
The interior of Buda Castle is just as grand as its exterior and features a castle chapel, a gothic hall as well as barrel vaulted rooms.


7)  Hampton Court
Technically, the Hampton Court of Herefordshire that is located in the village of Hope in the parish of Dinmore, England, is a castellated country house. The elaborate homestead, established around 1427, was built by Sir Rowland Lenthall.

In 1510, the elegant home was occupied by the Coningsby family and later owned by John Arkwright during the 19th century. Remodeling was facilitated so the home would look more like a castle than a rustic retreat.

The gardens of the home are open to visitors in the summer with various events held during the year, including theatrical productions. The gardens at Hampton Court showcase a garden maze, kitchen garden and a secret tunnel. The luxurious home was featured in the 70s TV series, “Survivors” ,which appeared on the BBC network.

Hampton Court
Technically, the Hampton Court of Herefordshire that is located in the village of Hope in the parish of Dinmore, England, is a castellated country house.

The Great Hall Ceiling Inside Hampton Court
Hampton Court, established around 1427, was built by Sir Rowland Lenthall.
By Diliff, via Wikimedia Commons


6)  Frankenstein Castle
Because of its name, Frankenstein Castle draws the interest of a lot of visitors. Considered to be the inspiration for Mary Shelly’s “Dracula”, the castle is located in Darmstadt, Germany.

Reiz von Breuberg, who later changed his name to Frankenstein, first built the castle in the early part of the 13th century. Frankenstein himself held an imperial lordship, which caused him to be a direct subject of the emperor.

Historians believe that another castle stood near the Frankenstein site but the other structure eventually crumbled after the fortress was built. Divided into two sections, the Frankenstein Castle was a home to both knights and lords of different families. Much later, the building was used as a refuge and hospital then the first Halloween festival was held at the site in the late 70s. It is now one of the largest festivals of its kind on the European continent.

Most of the castle is now in ruins,so tours are no longer given at the attraction. However, you can enjoy a repast at a restaurant on the grounds and the fortress is still home to a chapel along with two towers. The structure has been featured on TV on an episode of “Ghost Hunters International”.

Frankenstein Castle
Because of its name, Frankenstein Castle draws the interest of a lot of visitors. Considered to be the inspiration for Mary Shelly’s “Dracula”, the castle is located in Darmstadt, Germany.
By Pascal Rehfeldt, via Wikimedia Commons

Inside the Chapel in Frankenstein Castle
Frankenstien Castle is in ruins but a chapel still remains.
By Pascal Rehfeldt, via Wikimedia Commons


5)  Neuschwanstein Castle
First constructed in 1869, the Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Germany is the model for the castle featured in Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty”. Commissioned by Ludwig II, the English-translated New Swanstone Castle was meant to be a sanctuary for the reclusive king. However, the castle was opened to the public after the monarch died.

Currently, about one million people visit the Neuschwanstein Castle each year and the castle itself has appeared in several films as well as videos. During peak season, tourists stand in long lines to take a 35 minute guided tour inside the fortress. Visitors are led through such areas as the Throne Room, the Drawing Room, The Hall of Singers and the Study Room.

Neuschwanstein Castle
First constructed in 1869, the Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Germany is the model for the castle featured in Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty”.

Detail of Throne Room in Neuschwanstein Castle
Currently, about one million people visit the Neuschwanstein Castle each year and the castle itself has appeared in several films as well as videos.
By Lokilech, via Wikimedia Commons


4)  Hohensalzburg Castle
Located in Salzburg, Austria, the Hohensalzburg Castle sits on a beautiful mountain with a water view. While the fortress is an amazing sight to see during the day, it will take your breath away at night. When the massive fortification is lit, it looks like a castle out of a fairy tale.

The Hohensalzburg Castle, which was built in honor of the prince-archbishops of Salzburg, is one of Europe’s largest medieval castles. Construction began in 1077 and expansions to the structure continued over time.

The castle has been under siege one time during its history and was able to withstand the adversarial attack. In the 1800s, the castle was used by the military as barracks and a dungeon. Abandoned in 1861, the fortress is now a major tourist attraction.

The castle, which was refurbished in the 19th century, has a number of notable features and is home to the Golden Chamber, one of the most elaborately furnished rooms inside the domain. Another notable feature is a large pipe organ, made in the early 16th century, that is featured in the Krautturm of the castle. The aerophone, which is called the “Salzburg Bull”, is played each day from Palm Sunday of each year until the late fall.

Hohensalzburgh Castle
Located in Salzburg, Austria, the Hohensalzburg Castle sits on a beautiful mountain with a water view.

 Inside Hohensalzburg Castle
The Hohensalzburg Castle, which was built in honor of the prince-archbishops of Salzburg, is one of Europe’s largest medieval castles.
By Gryffindor, via Wikimedia Commons


3)  Tower of London
Officially called “Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress”, the Tower of London is truly a sight to behold. As the name suggests, the castle is located in London, UK; more specifically on the River Thames.

Stretching across 12 acres, the castle was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1078. The White Tower, which is part of the original structure, was used as a prison in 1100. An Inner Ward was added in the 1190s and the structure’s wharf was extended from 1377 to 1399.

A major tourist attraction, the White Tower of the fortress features some of the equipment used for torturing prisoners. Today, the Tower of London is a World Heritage site and is overseen by the Historic Royal Palace. Tickets to view the Tower are priced at £21.45, $34.34 USD, for adults and £10.75, $17.21 USD, for children under the age of 16.

Tower of London
Officially called “Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress”, the Tower of London is truly a sight to behold. As the name suggests, the castle is located in London, UK; more specifically on the River Thames.
By Bob Collowân, via Wikimedia Commons

St. John's Chapel Inside The Tower of London
Stretching across 12 acres, The Tower of London was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1078.
By Bernard Gagnon, via Wikimedia Commons


2)  Edinburgh Castle
Dating back to the twelfth century, Edinburgh Castle is located in Edinburgh, Scotland. The castle has been habited for centuries and is still being used today. While the castle was used as a royal residence for a long period of time, it eventually became a stronghold for Scotland’s military in the 17th century.

As a site of various attacks and skirmishes, Edinburgh Castle stood up against the Jacobite Rising in 1745 as well as the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century.

Some of the sieges resulted in damage to the castle but several parts of the structure have remained intact and date back to the 12th century, making them some of the oldest buildings in Scotland. St. Margaret’s Chapel, the Great Hall and the Royal Palace, did not suffer any notable damage.

Edinburgh Castle is home to the Scottish National War Memorial, the Honors of Scotland and the National War Museum of Scotland.

Edinburgh Castle
Dating back to the twelfth century, Edinburgh Castle is located in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Ornate Mantle Inside Edinburgh Castle
https://www.flickr.com/photos/glenbowman/3494144541/


1)  Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is one of the most famous castles in the world and is located in Berkshire, England. This well known fortress is distinguished for its long running association with the British Royal Family and is one of the longest lived in castles in the world. In fact, the castle has been occupied by monarchs since the rule of King Henry 1. The structure has been the royal residence of such famous royal figureheads as Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

During the English Civil War, the castle was used as a military base and during the reign of Charles I, it served as a prison. Restoration of the castle took place during the reign of Charles II.

In 1992, a fire claimed much of the castle and the structure underwent extensive reconstruction. The cost to rebuild was set at around £40 million or about $64 million.

Winsor Castle
Windsor Castle is one of the most famous castles in the world and is located in Berkshire, England.

Crimson Drawing Room Inside Windsor Castle
During the English Civil War, the castle was used as a military base and during the reign of Charles I, it served as a prison. Restoration of Windsor Castle took place during the reign of Charles II.
By Empirically Grounded, via Wikimedia Commons


Conclusion
Castles and similar buildings seem like magical structures, given their fairy tale lore and the legends that often surround the fortifications. Wherever they are located, the structures allow you to become more acquainted with another country’s culture and take a look back into history. The landmarks give us a glimpse into the foundations of old tales and provide us with a better understanding of English, European and Asian histories.



 

 

 

 

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