Castles are a frequent feature throughout the landscape of Europe. A constant reminder of the continents extremely bloody history, these fortifications stand atop just about every peak- having been built to stand guard over the hundreds of territories and nations that have been warring for the past 2 millenniums. Though many of these castles have disappeared into obscurity in the same way as their founders- sieged to the point of ruin, demolished to make way for future regeneration, burned down in plots and cases of sabotage or even simply demolished as a result of being outdated or useless- there are still plenty to be seen, visited and educated upon.
10. Mont Saint-Michel, France
Located near the French coastline at Normandy, a place famous for its part in the Allied invasion of Europe in the summer of 1944- Mont Saint-Michel is a castle that stands watch over the small town below from atop its impressive peak. Originally an abbey and popular destination for pilgrims, the castle remains more or less in its original state and as a result attracts a very high number of visitors each year.
9. Brodick Castle, Scotland
One of the oldest in-tact fortifications remaining in not just the UK but Europe- Brodick Castle is situated in the desolate scenery of the Isle of Arran- a few miles off the West coast of the Scottish mainland. Believed to have been constructed originally in the 4th century AD, the site has been added upon continuously throughout the ages- used to repel Viking threat first and then later as a key stronghold during the centuries of war against the English.
8. Bran Castle, Romania
Otherwise known as ‘Draculas Castle’, Bran Castle is situated near the medieval city of Brasov, Romania. Though debated much since, the Castle was named as the home of Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia by Irish novelist Bram Stoker in his pivotal work ‘Dracula’. As a result of this connection, the Castle has been continuously popular with tourists from all over the world pursuing their interests in the infamous Count Dracula.
7. Castle of Coco, Spain
Commissioned by the Archbishop of Seville in the 15th century, ‘Castillo de Coca’, as it’s locally known- is located near the central Spanish town of Coca, Segovia. Most would be shocked at the amount of castles in Spain, as it’s often easy to overlook the nation as a centric medieval superpower. Out of all 6,000 remaining castles in the country, it’s not difficult to see why this one grabs the most attention. Combining both Gothic and Mudejar Styles- the lightness in shade of its comprising materials almost make it look like it’s made entirely from sand.
6. Eltz Castle, Germany
Easily one of the most well preserved ancient fortifications anywhere in the world, Eltz Castle has been owned continuously by members of the same family for over 800 years. Situated amongst the breath-taking mountain ranges and dense wild forest of Western Germany- the Castle lies almost equidistantly between the towns of Koblenz and Trier and enjoys a reputation as one of the most inviting tourist attractions of its kind.
5. Malbork Castle, Poland
Located in modern day Poland, Malbork Castle was built in 1274 by the Teutonic Order in what was then the Prussian Empire. Malbork is the largest Castle of its kind in the world in terms of surface area- and is also considered to be the largest brick built structure in Europe. Medieval in its design and Gothic in its looks, Malbork, which lies about an hour from Gdansk- is certainly a stunning specimen, attracting a large amount of annual visitors as a result of its constantly interesting exhibitions and guided tours alike.
4. Castle Neuschwanstein, Germany
An example of a post medieval take on a classic European castle, the fortress at Neuschwanstein was constructed between 1869 and 1892. Towering above the already dizzying heights of the Bavarian mountains, Castle Neuschwanstein was commissioned by Ludwig II and intended as a personal place of refuge for the shy King. In this respect more a palace than a castle- Ludwig’s intended place of solace (he died before it was completed) attracts over 1 million annual visitors, has been used in countless movies and is said to be the main inspiration for the Disneyland Castle- all because of its rather good looks.
3. Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Perched upon a huge volcanic rock formation, this fortress has stood looking over the Scottish capital city for the best part of 1000 years. Regenerated to fit with the times on several occasions throughout this time, the current incarnation is both regal and overbearing. Playing a central role in many a conquest and even more wars over the past millennium, the Castle is considered as one of the strongest and most impressive in the world- attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists annually as a result of its central location and host of beguiling attractions.
2. Windsor Castle, England
As a Royal residence for the entirety of its 1,000 year existence- Windsor Castle has managed to remain in absolutely flawless condition. Whereas other less fortunate early constructions of equal importance and magnitude have been left to rot in the harsh environmental conditions akin to the UK- Windsor Castle has been maintained with the utmost care. The site was originally used by William the Conqueror upon his successful invasion of Saxon England in 1066, though since then has been used by a long line of ‘English’ Monarchs- starting with Williams son Henry I in the early 1100’s. The castle remains a residence to the current Monarch Elizabeth II- making it the longest occupied Palace in Europe.
1. Prague Castle, Czech Republic
A dearly held asset of the Czech people, Prague Castle has stood proudly within the jurisdiction of the nation’s capital city since its initial construction in the 9th Century. The elegant yet utterly formidable fortress has been a home and place of work for Bohemian Kings, Holy Roman Emperors and Czech Presidents alike and still holds a very valid place within the country’s infrastructure. Noted as the largest ‘Ancient’ castle in the world by Guinness World Records, there’s no wonder the castle remains one of the continents more prevalent landmarks.