Large buildings with towers surrounded by a moat standing high with dignity as a fortified structure spreading elegance are all the presumed image that comes to our mind as we speak of Castle. Predominantly built for protection against the invaders and also as a symbol of nobility, we can say that the timeline index of castles dates back to the 11th century when the Normans first built the castles. With time the Motte and Bailey castles developed and took further modified structures as the Bodiam castle, the Ightham Mote gradually metamorphosing to fantastic modernised palaces still evoking the aesthetics of fabled stories. Most European countries witness the formation of these soaring fortresses with intricate designs, the dreamy fantasies of ballrooms and balconies revealing the rich history of our ancestors. It’s tough to choose TOP 10 MOST BEAUTIFUL CASTLES IN THE WORLD.
“This tower, patched unevenly with black ivy,
arose like a mutilated finger from among the fists of knuckled masonry and pointed blasphemously at heaven.
At night the owls made of it an echoing throat;
by day it stood voiceless and cast its long shadow.”
― Mervyn Peake.
Germany has the highest number of castles all over the world, however, if we talk of castles per square mile, then Wales would definitely take Germany’s place. It is said that Germany alone has around 25,000 castles however a brief discussion about the most enchanting and captivating castles in different other countries across the world is done to the best of your knowledge.
LIST OF TOP 10 MOST BEAUTIFUL CASTLES IN THE WORLD
1. Neuschwanstein Castle
The 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace was built in honour of Richard Wagner, the great German composer and theatre director known for his operas. The Neuschwanstein Castle also called New Swan Stone castle was built by King Ludwig II as a refurbished masterpiece of the Hohenschwangau Castle. Standing on a steep hill above the village of Hohenschwangau, this not-so-tall fairy-tale castle was Ludwig’s very much dream castle where he could rule like a true Nobel after the forced alliance with Prussia as an impact of Austria’s defeat in Austro-Prussian War. The castle with its towers, minarets, frescoes, throne hall, chapels is believed to be a direct inspiration for the framing of Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. This castle is widely popular across the world and draws approximately 1.4 million people every year.
Wartburg Castle is one of the oldest castles in Germany, that hosted annual poetry contest every year, even Martin Luther stayed here and translated the Bible into German in ten weeks. Talking of other age-old German castles, we should mention that of Lichtenstein, standing on a cliff, Marksburg, Munzenberg, and Burghausen, the longest castle complex as confirmed by the Guinness World Record company. Hence it deserves a mention in our list of TOP 10 MOST BEAUTIFUL CASTLES IN THE WORLD.
Another castle of the medieval period, the Eltz Castle standing in the hills above the Moselle River exemplify the aristocracy of Gothic, Romanesque and Baroque architecture. The Schwerin Castle located on an island in the city of Schwerin had been the home of the dukes for centuries till 1918 and the official seat of the state parliament since 1990. The castle portraying Historicist architecture featured with Neo-Renaissance style was built with direct inspiration from the magnificent Chateau of Chambord of France and was also used as a location for the blockbuster movie Kingsman: The Golden Circle filmed in 2017.
2. Caernarfon Castle
Rendering almost 600 castles per square mile, Wales can be considered as Britain’s greatest nation of castles that had witnessed the building of Welsh rich heritage beginning from the Normans since 1066. The architectural splendour of these fortresses never fail to stir the soul, also exhibits the history of royal Welsh dynasties. some of them still stand high as soaring dignified structures, others only bear the romantic ruins creating their own unique legacy.
The medieval fortress Caernarfon Castle anglicised as Carnarvon Castle or Caernarvon Castle located at the southern end of the Menai Strait between north Wales and Anglesey is one of the most impressive fortresses of Wales. Anglesey, being agriculturally rich landmass and North Wales having poor land, the Menai Strait acts as easy waterway access and hence the castle was strategically built by King Edward I. His another castle, the Harlech Castle, close to the Irish Sea, located in Harlech, Gwynedd, Wales was also architecturally designed by James Saint George.
The second-biggest castle in Britain, the Caerphilly Castle, in South Wales is well known for working siege engines, Gilbert’s Maze adventure, and robotic Dragons’ Lair. The Powis Castle and Garden in Powys, Wales, adorned with garden and an orangery in French and Italian style has the Clive Museum that has the collection of Indian and further Eastern antiquities. The Dinefwr Castle, that had been the chief seat of the Kingdom of Deheubarth, is now a ruined castle in Carmarthenshire, Wales, currently run by The National Trust.
3. Windsor Castle
The third place in our list of TOP 10 MOST BEAUTIFUL CASTLES IN THE WORLD is held by the English royal residence, Windsor Castle, located in Berkshire, England and occupies 13 acres of land above the south bank of the River Thames. It was built by William the Conqueror after the Norman invasion and is well known for its royal architectural demonstration. It comprises of two courts separated by Round Tower, the west court being called the lower ward, and the east court being called the upper ward. The St. George’s Chapel and the Albert Memorial Chapel at the lower ward exhibit Perpendicular Gothic-style architecture whereas the upper ward consists of the Waterloo Chamber, St. George’s Hall, and the grand reception room along with a royal library having the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo and other contemporary artists.
The Alnwick Castle in the English county of Northumberland was used as a home location for filming two of the popular Harry Potter series films — ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ and ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’.
4. Edinburgh Castle
The historical fortress touching the skyline of Edinburg, the capital of Scotland had been the home for the Honours of Scotland however now serves as a military base and is also the home to the Scottish National War Memorial. It features the Stone of Scone or Stone of Destiny which is a block made of sandstone upon which the monarchs were crowned. The Castle Esplanade hosts international military music festival called the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the One O’Clock Gun, which is the firing of a loud cannon every 6 days a week at 1:00 pm sharp.
5. Kilkenny Castle
The 12th-century castle renovated in Victorian times is located in, Kilkenny, Ireland, featured in with parklands. The beautiful Long Gallery, The Parade Tower, the splendid library, drawing rooms manifests the architectural grandeur. It had been the principal seat of the Butler family, Marquesses and Dukes of Ormonde.
Many other breath-taking castles of Ireland include the Bunratty Castle in County Clare near Shannon Town, the Blarney Castle in Cork, the Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, County Galway, which is a Benedictine monastery found in 1920.
6. Château de Chambord
The largest Renaissance castle in the Loire Valley, France — The Château de Chambord, is one of the world’s most recognisable palace exhibiting an innovative architectural fashion constituting the Renaissance architecture, the Classical architecture and the French Renaissance architecture.
The Palace of Versailles in the department of Yvelines, in the south-west of Paris, the Château de Pierrefonds in the Oise département of France, in the north-east of Paris are two other ecstatic castles in France.
7. Castel del Monte
The 13th-century citadel and castle in Andria, in the Apulia region of Italy are of noteworthy universal value because of its perfectly octagonal shape with eight octagonal towers. It was probably not built for defense purpose since it had no moat, drawbridge or trapdoor, however, it is believed that to signify geometric symbolism, the union of the finite perfection — human, and the infinite perfection, God, it was built by Frederick II.
8. Pena Palace
The Romanticist castle in São Pedro de Penaferrim on the Portuguese Riviera, the Pena Palace is Portugal’s fairy tale castle, that has been declared since 1995 as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. It features an exotic mix of several architectural styles — Neo-Gothic, Neo-Islamic, Neo-Manueline and Neo-Renaissance. The Palácio da Pena consists of a monastery, garden and the new palace and with its magnificent decoration, it can be definitely symbolised as one of the wonders of Portugal.
9. Castles in Japan
The large, partially-restored castle in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan — the Kanazawa Castle stands as an emblem for the power of the clan reigning in Edo Period(1603–1868). Osaka Castle in Chūō-Ku, Osaka is one of the most famous and historic castles in Japan that played an important role in the confederation of Japan during the samurai era of 16th century. The Matsumoto Castle or the Crown Castle, Himeji Castle and Kumamoto Castle together exhibit Japan’s exquisite history and splendid architecture.
10. Prague Castle
A UNESCO World Heritage site in Prague, Czech Republic and largest castle complex of the world as confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records was primarily founded by Prince Bořivoj. It exhibits Baroque, Mannerism architectural styles and is currently the office of President of the Czech Republic. Previously it had been the seat of power for Bohemian Kings, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia. As an age-old masterstroke, it is the secret bearer of European history and is the hotspot for many cultural occurrences of Czech.
Here you have our take on the complete list of LIST OF TOP 10 MOST BEAUTIFUL CASTLES IN THE WORLD. If you know of some who deserve their place in the list. Do comment.
Happy Travelling !!!