Europe is full of historical sites and popular tourist destinations that draw millions of visitors annually. Every traveller to the continent would love to go to a castle. The entire history of the most well-known castles in Europe is worth discussing.
If you read this blog regularly, you probably know I’m passionate about castles. They have a ton of fascinating tales to share, some of which are just incredible, and they’re the perfect trip to do with kids.
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Beautiful Castles in Europe
There are many castles in Europe. Some of them are beautiful, and some of them are not, but they all have something to say about history.
Castles in Europe were built for different reasons. Some were built as strongholds to protect people from others’ attacks, others as palaces where kings and queens lived, and some as fortresses or prisons.
The most famous castles in Europe are the ones that were built during medieval times and during the Renaissance period when people had enough resources to build such massive structures.
Here is a list of the most beautiful European castles:
1. Château de Castel Novel, France
Château de Castel Novel is a castle in the French village of Castel Novel. The castle was built in the 13th century and has been listed as a monument historique since 1944. The castle is now home to a beautifully decorated hotel with a restaurant, bar, and arboretum of 25 acres.
2. Château de Chambord, France
Château de Chambord is a castle that’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in France. The building itself dates back to the 15th century, and it’s been expanded over the years. Château de Chambord is massive—it has a total of 440 rooms! It boasts two beautiful courtyards: the Cour Ovale and the Cour Carrée.
3. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Bavaria castle Neuschwanstein is a 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany, was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as an homage to Richard Wagner. Ludwig paid for the palace out of his personal fortune and extensive borrowing, not with Bavarian public funds. He started it in 1868; the palace was opened on October 1886.
4. Eilean Donan Castle, UK
If you’re looking for romance, this is the castle for you. Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland, located in Scotland, is one of the most well-preserved and best castles in Britain.
The castle was built in the early 1300s and has been a romantic backdrop for many films and TV shows. It is known for its scenic views of the water and the surrounding Scottish moors.
5. Conwy Castle, Wales
The best castle in Wales is Conwy Castle. It’s a medieval fortress that sits on the edge of the river Conwy. It was built in the 13th century by Edward I.
Conwy Castle, Wales, is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Britain, and the castle is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
6. Château de Chenonceau, France
The Château de Chenonceau is a castle that has the distinction of being one of the most beautiful castles in Europe and one of the most visited. It is located on the River Cher in the Loire Valley, which is a popular tourist destination in France.
Château de Chenonceau was originally built as a mill and hunting lodge for Catherine de’ Medici, it became a residence when she married Henry II. It is now owned by the government and open to the public.
7. Alcázar of Segovia, Spain
It was once the site of a castle, but now it’s a museum that houses many artifacts from the 15th century. In 1985, together with other monuments of the city of Segovia, it was entered on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites in Europe.
Alcázar of Segovia and its design date back to Roman times when Spain was part of the Roman Empire.
8. Trakai Island Castle, Lithuania
The castle was constructed in the fourteenth century and housed the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. It houses a museum now. Trakai Island Castle is renowned for its gothic design and unique setting on an island in Lake Galve.
9. Bran Castle, Romania
Bran Castle, Romania, one of the most popular and best castles in Romania, is also referred to as Dracula’s Castle. Bran Castle is located in Brasov at the peak of a mountain cliff. It is greatly popularized by Bram Stoker’s vampire movies and books.
10. Hohenzollern Castle, Germany
The Prussian King and Princes of Hohenzollern’s ancestral home, Hohenzollern Castle, is one of the best castles in Germany. Hohenzollern Castle, Germany, hosts 140 rooms in all, with the King’s bed chamber, the family tree room, the library, and the Queen’s room.
11. Moszna Castle, Poland
One of the best castles in Poland is the one in Moszna. The German Tiele-Winckler family once lived in the castle and park complex. There are 99 turrets and 365 rooms in this 17th-century Moszna Castle, Poland. Many equestrian sports fans visit the stud farm with thoroughbred Arab horses.
12. Český Krumlov Castle, Czech Republic
Cesky Krumlov Castle is one of the most significant historical sites in the Czech Republic and central Europe. The original architectural detail is all still clearly visible in these buildings that date from the 14th century.
13. Edinburgh Castle, UK
Scotland’s most well-known landmark, Edinburgh Castle Scotland, is a part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site. Edinburgh Castle has dominated the city’s skyline for ages, and it is one of the best castles in Scotland.
14. Corvin Castle, Romania
Corvin Castle, Romania, is one of Europe’s most stunning and expansive castles, often referred to as Hunyadi Castle. Its construction, which started in 1440, was intended to be a bastion of protection against the Ottoman Empire.
Many people claim that Vlad the Impaler – the real Dracula- was detained here during his exile.
15. Caernarfon Castle, UK
One of the grandest structures from the Middle Ages is acknowledged as Caernarfon Castle, Wales. This castle-fortress on the River Seiont is part of a World Heritage Site together with other castles built by Edward I.
16. Frederiksborg Castle, Denmark
The best castle in Denmark, Frederiksborg Castle, is located in Hillerd’s Castle Lake on three little islets. Family-friendly major cultural attractions are located inside this royal palace, and the incredibly scenic location is ideal for leisurely strolls through the gardens and boat rides.
17. Dublin Castle, Ireland
Dublin Castle, one of the best castles in Ireland, built in the early thirteenth century on the site of a Viking settlement, was the center of the English and then British government in Ireland for many years. Today, it houses a sizable government facility and a popular tourist destination.
18. Alcázar of Seville, Spain
A prime example of Mudéjar style architecture is the Royal Alcázar of Seville, a royal palace in Seville that was once a Moorish castle. Due to this, it was added to the UNESCO list of European World Heritage Sites in 1987.
19. Warwick Castle, UK
William the Conqueror first constructed a wooden fort in 1068 that would later become Warwick Castle, a medieval fortress. This England’s best castle hosts the most potent catapult in the world and is also the place where the renowned Harry Potter movies were filmed.
20. Drottningholm Castle, Sweden
Drottningholm Palace is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. The 1600s-era royal castle is well preserved, and here you can experience the lavish palace grounds, theater, and exotic Chinese Pavilion pleasure palace.
Sweden is famous for it’s stunning palaces. Discover what else Sweden is famous for here >>
21. Hohenwerfen Castle, Austria
On a 623-meter-high cliff overlooking the Austrian town of Werfen in the Salzach Valley lies this medieval rock castle. The Berchtesgaden Alps and the nearby Tennen Mountains encircle the over 900-year-old stronghold, making it one of the oldest castles in Austria.
22. Durham Castle, England
The Castle, which is located in the center of Durham’s World Heritage Site and has been inhabited continuously since the 11th century, is now the residence of Durham University’s University College students. It can only be visited by guided tour.
William the Conqueror constructed Durham Castle in 1072. The castle is a magnificent illustration of early Norman motte and bailey construction.
23. Tintagel Castle, England
Tintagel is possibly the most well-known and one of the best castles in Southern England. Many legends surround these clifftop ruins, and some think they were King Arthur’s stronghold.
The early 13th century saw the construction of the Norman castle, whose remains you can still see today. Even the name Tintagel, which means “Fort of the Constriction,” indicates that this is not the first castle to have been erected here.
24. Chester Castle, England
William the Conqueror built Chester Castle in 1070, which afterward served as the seat of the earldom of Chester’s government. The inner bailey was likely the only portion of the initial earth and timber “motte-and-bailey” castle that was used. The outer bailey was added and reconstructed in stone in the 12th century.
25. Crookston Castle, Scotland
The Stewarts of Darnley constructed Crookston Castle in the early 1400s. This remarkable castle is located amid earthworks that date back to the early 1100s. extensive repairs made after a 1544 siege. As Glasgow’s lone remaining medieval castle, it serves as a reminder of the region’s past agricultural nature.
26. Bamburgh Castle, England
Over 1,400 years ago, Bamburgh Castle, a commanding and majestic structure perched above a rocky plateau, kept watching over the breathtaking Northumberland coastline. Castle was utilized in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the first two Harry Potter movies as Hogwarts. The local gardens are some of the best in the nation.
27. Dover Castle, England
One of Kent’s best and most impressive Norman castles, Dover Castle is a magnificent illustration of the concentric castle style. It began as a modest Roman hillfort perched above the famous White Cliffs of Dover, and when the Normans came in 1066, they chose the same location to erect a more powerful fortification.
28. Castle De Haar, Netherlands
De Haar is the quintessential example of a medieval stronghold in The Netherlands, complete with towers, ramparts, moats, gates, and drawbridges. It rises majestically from parkland with impressive trees, ancient gardens, and ponds, much like a real-life fairytale castle.
One of the best castles in the Netherlands is conveniently located near Utrecht in the middle of the Netherlands and is easily accessible by vehicle.
29. Castello di Brolio, Tuscany, Italy
One of the best castles in Italy, the Brolio castle is located in the heart of the Chianti region. It has Longobard origins and has been associated with the Ricasoli family since the early 12th century. The castle has undergone numerous reconstructions and modifications, leaving remnants from each period.
30. Buda Castle, Hungary
Buda Castle, an enormous medieval castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings in Budapest, has a lot to explore. You can overlook the Danube River and the Parliament from the castle and learn a lot about Hungary’s history.
31. Gravensteen Castle, Belgium
The only castle with a moat still standing in Flanders is the intriguing “Castle of the Counts,” also known as Gravensteen Castle, which is rich in political and social history. In this, one of the best castles in Belgium, you can see torture devices.
32. Predjama Castle, Slovenia
Slovenia has a castle that will take your breath away. The castle is recognized as the largest cave castle in the world by the Guinness Book of Records. It is a Gothic castle that was started in the 13th century and currently appears to be “hanging” from a 123-meter-high cliff.
Considering the castle’s location, temperature, and humidity at the time, we may presume that life there was very difficult. The castle was formerly used as a means of escape during a siege, and today we can recognize it as a legitimate tourist destination.
33. Spiš Castle, Slovakia
The ruins of Spis Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are one of the biggest castles in Europe. An audio tour of Spis Castle takes about 90 minutes to complete and tells the narrative of its colorful past, which dates back to the 12th century. It is one of Slovakia’s most visited attractions and the best castles.
34. Royal Palace of Madrid, Spain
The Royal Palace of Madrid is the largest palace in Europe. It is also one of the largest palaces in the world. The Royal Palace of Madrid was commissioned by King Felipe IV and built between 1627 and 1647. The palace is located in central Madrid, on the east side of Plaza de Oriente.
35. Doge’s Palace, Italy
In the heart of Venice, you’ll find one of the best castles in Europe. The Doge’s Palace was built in the 13th century as a seat of government for the city’s chief magistrate.
It was also home to an incredible art collection with thousands of paintings and sculptures, including works by Titian and Tintoretto.
Today it’s still used for official state ceremonies, but visitors can tour the opulent halls and chambers to see what life was like for Venetian nobility through the centuries.
36. Kilkenny Castle, Ireland
Kilkenny Castle is one of the best castles in Europe. Located in Kilkenny City, this castle is a must-see on your trip to Ireland. It’s the second-largest castle in Ireland and has been standing since the 12th century.
It was originally built by Strongbow, the Norman invader who conquered Ireland for England. It has beautiful architecture, with an eight-pointed star shape.
37. Sforzesco Castle, Italy
Sforzesco Castle is a 14th-century castle near Milan. Originally built as a fortress and residence for the Visconti family, it was later expanded under the Sforza family. The castle’s most famous features are its moat, drawbridge, and courtyard.
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38. Palazzo Brancaccio, Italy
The Palazzo Brancaccio sits in the center of Rome, on a hill overlooking the city. The castle dates back to the 13th century and was built by the Brancaccio family.
The castle’s most famous resident was Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, a famous Italian artist who lived there for 10 years beginning in 1597. The castle has been restored over time, with one of its most recent restorations taking place in 1992.
39. Royal Palace of Oslo, Norway
As the name suggests, almost out of a fairytale, this palace is indeed home to the Norwegian Royal family today. Built as the Royal residence of King Charles XIV, this castle has hosted generations of royalty.
40. The Royal Palace, Sweden
The Swedish monarch’s official residence and the principal royal palace is the Royal Palace in Stockholm. Castle in Stockholm is situated on the Stadsholmen island in Stockholm’s Gamla stan neighbourhood. The Stockholm Cathedral and the Swedish Riksdag Parliament building are close by.
41. Queluz National Palace, Portugal
The Queluz National Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Portugal’s most popular tourist attraction. It was built in the 18th century as a summer home for Dom Pedro, the Prince Regent of Portugal.
The palace is famous for its many gardens, which include a labyrinth, a grotto with waterfalls, and a Japanese garden.
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42. Palace of Westminster, England
The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament, is a tourist attraction in London. It was home of the royal family and houses the two houses of parliament. The palace was built in the 11th century and has been destroyed and rebuilt several times.
43. Castel del Monte, Italy
Castel del Monte is a 13th-century castle in Apulia, Italy. The castle sits on a hilltop and overlooks the town of Andria. It was built by the Emperor Frederick II, who was inspired by Arabic architecture.
It was designed as a royal residence and furnished with luxurious furniture and decorations. Today, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy.
44. Buckingham Palace, England
Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the British monarch, has been a tourist attraction for over 200 years. The castle was built in 1703, and has undergone many additions over the years.
45. Alhambra, Spain
The Alhambra is a historic palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Spain. It was originally built as a royal residence by Moorish rulers in the 14th century.
The site has been expanded and renovated many times over the following centuries—so much so that the current structure includes elements from nearly every major architectural style in Spain’s history, including Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical.
Today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular castles in Europe.
46. Malbork Castle, Poland
Malbork Castle, also known as Marienburg Castle, is a castle built in the 13th century.
The castle has been renovated many times over its history, but it still remains one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Europe. It has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its historical significance and architectural design which blends Gothic and Romanesque styles.
47. Schönbrunn Palace, Austria
Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria is a gorgeous example of Baroque architecture. This palace was built in 1696 by Emperor Leopold I as a summer residence for his wife. It is now open to the public and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vienna.
48. Trakošćan Castle, Croatia
It is not known who and when Trakošćan was built, and according to several sources it is assumed that it was created at the very beginning of the 14th century as a small fortification in the then defense system of northwestern Croatia.
The legend about the Trakošćan castle says that once upon a time, the countess wanted to build her a romantic castle with a meadow and a lake at the foot, and the powerful count, driven by strong feelings, built this impressive complex. The castle is one of the most famous landmarks in Croatia.
49. Royal Palace of Brussels, Belgium
The Royal Palace of Brussels is a stunning example of European architecture and is one of the best castles in Europe. The palace can be found in central Brussels, home to the royal family and government officials.
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50. Château de Versailles, France
The Château de Versailles is one of the best castles in Europe. The castle is a true masterpiece, with hundreds of rooms and even more sculptures. It was constructed using the most advanced technology available at the time, so it’s no wonder that it has survived for so long!
51. Pena Palace, Portugal
The Pena Palace, located in Portugal, is one of the best castles in Portugal. It was built in the 19th century at a time when Portugal was still under the control of Spain. Pena Palace has been used as a royal residence and was later converted into a museum.
52. Castillo de Coca, Spain
Located in Segovia, Castillo de Coca is one of the best castles in Europe. It was built in the 15th century and has been restored numerous times since then. Today, it hosts the Royal Armory Museum and a military museum dedicated to General Juan Prim y Prats.
53. Prague Castle, Czech Republic
Prague Castle is the largest castle in the Czech Republic and one of the most visited tourist attractions in Prague. The castle has been home to many rulers, including emperors, kings, and presidents. It contains several museums with collections of paintings and historical artifacts.
54. Windsor Castle, England
One of the three official residences of the Windsor dynasty, the current British royal family, is Windsor Castle. It is the world’s biggest continuously inhabited castle.
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