Castles are the most striking aspect of Asia and Europe’s heritage architectural landscape, while being an integral part of its cultural ethos or folklore. They trigger our imagination of kings, knights, battles, horses and thrilling conquests. It flames our royal fantasies and all-pervasive need to lead a regal life ensconced in towering palaces.
The walls of these medieval castles are replete with untold tales and exquisite lifestyles, which have in turn influenced popular culture of the Middle and Modern Ages. Well, here’s your chance of experiencing the remnants of a royal life through there palaces. Wear your invisible crow, and get ready to read our recommendations of the 10 most beautiful medieval castles around the world.
01. Mont Saint Michel, France
Nestled in the picturesque island community of Normandy, Mont Saint Michel was erected (with massive walls surrounded by water no less) for strategic defense purposes. The fortress also has humongous inner walls dating back to iconic historical period. The castle was the erstwhile abode of Saint Michel’s monastery.
It lived through a hundred tumulus war years, to be anointed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site today. A lofty turquoise spire with a statue of Saint Michel on top is a striking feature of this elegant fortress
02. Bodiam Castle, England
A quintessentially European Castle, Bodiam is an iconic English castle comprising round towers, moats, a massive gatehouse and other striking features. The intricate landscape plan was created only with the intention of increasing its exquisiteness.
There is reasonable debate about the whether Bodiam was built as nobility haven or for defense purposes. The castle today features a full-fledged museum, replete with a fully- stocked tearoom and a host of family gatherings.
03. Nagoya Castle, Japan
Erected during Japan’s Edo feudal era, Nagoya’s origins date back to the 16 th century. Immediately after it was created, a warlord seized the original structure and called it Nagoya Castle, which was later used as a strategic operations base by the Japanese military during the WWII. While a major portion of it endured damage during war, today it has been restored into a strikingly elegant emerald and white castle that attracts thousands of awed visitors.
04. Windsor Castle, England
One of the world’s most iconic medieval castles drips with a signature 11h century charm, apart from the being the longest occupied palace in the continent. While its interiors are designed in traditional Georgian style, the castle complex itself is incredibly large. Little doubt then that Windsor is one of England’s biggest tourist attractions. It is also Queen Elizabeth II’’s weekend abode.
05. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
One of Europe’s most visited and an elegant castle, Neuschwanstein is nestled in Bavaria’s gorgeous Alps region. Though not a medieval castle in the strictest sense of the term (built in 19 th century), its fairy-tale like majestic appeal in a naturally stunning backdrop (overlooking the dramatic Hoenschwangau valley) coupled with world-class technology makes it a must visit attraction in Germany.
06. Loches Castle, France
Nestled in the Loire Valley, Loches Castle was built in the early 12 th century about 500 meters over Indre River, with its most notable feature being the huge square tower. Currently, the erstwhile fortress serves as a museum and features probably the best collection of French military memorabilia. Local legend has it that the palace was a gift from King Charles VII to his concubine Agnes Sorel, which was later turned into a prison by the king’s son. The Castle has held several English captives during the American Revolution.
07. Bojnice Castle, Slovakia
Bojnice Castle’s origins began with a no-fuss wooden stronghold, only to be transformed into an incredibly elegant Slovakian castle. The castle underwent several changes to meet the preferences of successive rulers, particularly Count Janos Ferenc Palffy. The Count was majorly influenced by French Castles in Loire, and heavily embellished Bojnice with vast artistic collections, antiques and vibrant tapestries. The Gothic cum Renaissance structure today radiates a surreal, fairy-tale like elegance, while also being a popular museum and cultural festival venue.
08. Bran Castle, Romania
While Romania’s landscape is dotted with several storybook castles, Bran stands out for its Dracula novel connection (Bram Stoker’s story Dracula takes inspiration from Bran Castle as the Dracula’s abode), outdoor museum and ornate artwork/furniture. Nestled on the border of Transylvania and Wallachia, visitors can enjoy splendid, vantage point vistas from the castle.
09. Edinburgh Castle
Towering over the city of Edinburgh, this imposing fortress is worth witnessing for its rich history and mysterious appeal. Believed to one of the country’s most haunted destinations (a piper simply disappeared in its tunnels and his spirit is said to live in its confines). The paranormal activity notwithstanding, Edinburgh Castle draws tourists by the hordes for its architectural magnificence, museum and well-equipped educational center.
10. Ksiaz Castle, Poland
One of Poland’s largest structures, Ksiaz was built in the 13 th century, and is famous for its eye-catching blue and pink pastel hues and intricate network of tunnels running under the castle. While it was the base of Bohemian royalty in its initials days, the castle was seized by the Nazis during WWII. The Red Army wrecked all the artifacts held in the castle post war. Today, Ksiaz has been restored to house a few hotels, a couple of restaurants and even an art gallery.