Some of us dream of the day where our own Cinderella fairytale would come true. The one where we get to leave our ordinary lives, go live in a beautiful castle and forget about all of our responsibilities, right? Luckily, you don’t need a fairy godmother to make all your dreams come true any longer. Now, it’s as easy as one plane ticket or one train ride away!
Here are 10 must-see castles around the world.
1. Cardiff Castle in Cardiff, Wales
The 2,000-year-old castle has been renovated a number of times. As a very versatile space, the castle has been used as a Roman fort and a coal exporting port, until finally being restored into a beautiful castle. Architect William Burges remodeled the castle in 1866, transforming the enormous structure by creating gothic towers, murals, stained glass, marble, wood carvings and assigning each room it’s own theme. Some of these themes include a Mediterranean garden and Italian and Arabian styled rooms. The castle was presented to the city of Cardiff as a gift and has since been one of the city’s
largest tourist attractions.
Along with obtaining a rich history lesson, as a visitor at the Cardiff Castle, you'll be able to see breath-taking views of the city of Cardiff from the high towers scouring over the area.
2. Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland
Set in the capital of Scotland this stunning castle is sure to be the best part of your trip. It sits atop a volcanic rock (referred to as the Castle Rock), so it can be a bit of a climb to reach, but the stone walls and towers and the encapsulating view will make the climb well worth it.
The castle is the biggest attraction in the city with over a million visitors in 2013. Audio and staff-led tours are available of the historic castle in addition to fully costumed reenactments of the Fourth Earl of Bothwell and Mary, Queen of Scots. Set a date as soon as possible to see the beloved Edinburgh Castle.
3. Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal
The Pena Palace in Portugal surpasses all language barriers a traveler may face with just one look at it. The view from the top makes stumbling around with little language knowledge a little better.
The palace lies on top of a hill in the Sintra Mountains, towering over the town of Sintra. This national monument can be seen from the capital city Lisbon and other surrounding cities. The style of the castle was heavily influenced by romanticism during the 1800s. As for photo-worthy spots go, The Queen’s Terrace serves as an excellent photoshoot setting as well as the clock tower. As one of the seven wonders of Portugal, there is no excuse not to go see this architectural masterpiece.
4. Matsumoto Castle in Matsumoto, Japan
Commonly referred to as the “Crow Castle,” this all black sleek castle is a must-see for any tourist. Original wood and brick cover the interior and exterior of the castle. This castle was built on top of a plain which gives easy access to everyone. Besides the appeal of the castle’s elegant and historic infrastructure, it is in close proximity of the capital of Japan, Tokyo. Classified as one of the national treasures of Japan, there is no doubt this castle should be at the top of every traveler's bucket list.
5. Dover Castle in Dover, England
Created during the Bronze Age, this medieval castle holds the history of the country within its walls. It is the largest castle in England and is called the “Key to England” because of its historical significance. The castle has been classified as a national monument and is recognized worldwide for its preservation of history. If the worldwide significance isn’t enough to convince you to visit, maybe the secret war tunnels, Roman lighthouse, or ocean views will be enough.
6. Chillon Castle in Veytaux, Switzerland
This quaint castle resides on an island alongside Lake Geneva and is one of the most highly visited castles in Switzerland. Visitors can tour the whimsical castle or look around and absorb the tranquility of the surrounding nature. If the cozy setting hasn’t sold you, maybe a little nostalgia will. This castle was used as the castle in the 1989 film The Little Mermaid. That’s right, the beloved setting of one of your favorite Disney movies is just a plane ticket away. This historic monument is a perfect tourist attraction for anyone who wants to relax, take some photos and maybe catch a tail flipping through the water.
7. Spiš Castle in Žehra, Slovakia
If you find yourself traveling in Europe, hop on a plane and head to Slovakia to see one of the largest castles in all of Europe. Built during the 12th century, this castle has changed its style enough times it could make its own clothing line. The structures original style was Romanesque then it went through its goth phase during the 1400s until it was destroyed in a fire in 1780. But honestly, who didn’t destroy their goth phase? The castle was partially rebuilt in the 20th century and now is open to the public for tours and viewings.
8. Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg in Orschwiller, France
A fairytale castle without a fairytale story, this castle was taken back by the French from the Germans after World War I through the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. Originally a French castle….and then a German castle….and then a French castle once again, the Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg is considered one the most popular tourist attractions in France. Although the last reconstruction of the castle does not precisely mimic the original medieval construction, this castle is one you do not want to miss.
9. Powis Castle in Powys, Wales
This eloquent castle houses an array of gardens and terraces that attracts thousands of visitors a year. The gardens are the most notable of all the aspects of this castle. The mansion was originally used as a hideaway for the treasure that Robert and Edward Clive retrieved from India through their work with the British East India Company but was later transformed into a castle. This cultivated castle is perfect for any history lover to come visit.
10. Tourbillon Castle in Sion, Switzerland
Ruined by a fire in 1788, this Swiss castle is perched atop a hill, towering over the city of Sion. Parts of the demolished castle have been restored and is open for public visitation. Now setting foot on the grounds of this castle is no easy battle. Visitors must climb up the winding stairs that hug the edges of the hill. If you are up for a worthwhile challenge, this castle is the one for you.
To find out more about castles, check out Tripedia's Guide to Castles.