As if straight out of a fairytale, castles have this timeless ability to evoke the inner child in us all. Just one glimpse and those towering castle spires, wavering flags and brawny fort walls stir a deepest sense of majesty and wonder. Scattered across Europe there are so many beautiful castles to admire, steeped in tales of kings and queens, wars and alliances, and the very making of Europe itself. Here are 5 of the most enchanting castles in Europe.
Legions of vampire fans flock to the 14th-century Bran Castle, perched on a dramatic hilltop near Brasov in central Romania. It is perhaps the most renowned castle in Eastern Europe and is a national monument, though is regularly referred to as Dracula’s Castle thanks to the many intriguing vampire tales and legends that have long been associated with it.
The greatest expression of 19th-century romanticism in Portugal, the Palace of Pena looks like a number of castles all rolled into one. Posing a fascinating mish-mash of architectural styles, as dictated by the opulent tastes of King Ferdinand II, to say it’s unique would be an understatement. The surrounding lush forest features trees from the four corners of the Earth and only serves to make it all the more exotic.
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If Neuschwanstein looks familiar, you’re right. So enchanting with its fairytale look rising above the Bavarian Alps, this was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Built as a refuge for the shy King Ludwig II in the 1800s, as a place he could withdraw from public life, it has ironically become Europe’s most visited castle.
A medieval superpower, Spain touts thousands of castles and of them all, the Castle of Coca is considered one of the most important and beautiful. A marvellous display of Gothic and Mudejar styles, it was commissioned by the Archbishop of Seville in the late 15th century, complete with an impressive 560-metre long moat encircling it.
The jewel in the crown of the Czech Republic’s capital, Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world with an official Guinness Book of World Records title. Built in the ninth century in a grand position overlooking the city, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and at the top of any to-do list in Prague.
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