Noble seats of kings; symbols of power; impregnable strongholds; European castles and chateaus used to be much more than just popular tourist attractions. However, the enigmatic tinge and magical atmosphere can be felt from these medieval giants even today. Here are 25 of the most impressive, fairytale-like castles and chateaus built on the old continent.
Chateau De Chillon, Switzerland
This island castle located on the shore of Lake Geneva is one of the best preserved medieval castles in the world. It consists of 100 individual buildings that were gradually linked together.
Bodiam Castle, England
Built in 1385, the Bodiam Castle was built as protection against French soldiers in the Hundred Years´war.
Chateau De Chambord, France
The largest chateau in the Loire Valley, Chambord is one of the greatest examples of French Renaissance and originally served as a hunting lodge for the famous French king Francois I.
Predjama Castle, Slovenia
This renaissance castle was built into a rock near the town of Postojna, Slovenia. It was built in the stone wall to make access to it more difficult. There is also a secret shaft leading out of the castle.
Bran Castle, Romania
Situated almost in the middle of Romania, this stronghold is among the most famous castles in the world. Ironically, there’s nothing special about the construction, rather it’s the story associated with the castle that makes it a hot spot for tourists. Legend has it that this Castle is the home of the titular character in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. However, there’s no real evidence that Bram even knew of this castle when he was writing the story.
Chateau De Walzin, Belgium
Built on a rocky cliff high above the river Lesse near Dinant, Belgium, this secluded chateau is one of the most picturesque medieval European monuments.
Karlstejn Castle, Czech Republic
This Gothic castle was built by Charles IV – the Holy Roman Emperor and Czech king. One of the most famous castles in Central Europe, Karlstejn has also been featured in several fairytales and movies.
Segovia Castle, Spain
This monumental stone fortress located near the town of Segovia, Spain, is one of the most famous castles in the Iberian Peninsula. Thanks to its distinctive shape, it became one of the inspirations for Disney´s Cinderella Castle.
Dunnator Castle, Scotland
The ruined medieval castle occupies an area of about 3.5 acres on a rocky cliff in the north-eastern part of Scotland. You may recognize this castle from the 1990 movie “Hamlet” with Mel Gibson.
Frederiksborg Castle, Denmark
Built as a royal residence for king Christian IV, it is the largest renaissance castle in Northern Europe. Located on Palace Lake, this pompous castle serves as a museum of Danish national history.
Coca Castle, Spain
Built in the late 15th century, the Coca Castle is one of the most beautiful and largest medieval fortresses in Spain. Currently it serves as a school and training center for foresters.
Malbork Castle, Poland
When the construction of this monumental building was completed in 1406, it was the biggest brick castle in the world. Today, it is one of the most important Polish historical sites.
Caerlaverock Castle, Scotland
First built in the 13th century, the Caerlaverock Castle features an unusual triangular plan. It has been besieged and partly destroyed several times throughout its history, however, after some reconstruct it has become a popular tourist attraction.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
The Neuschwanstein Castle’s fairytale-like look makes it one of the most popular tourist attractions in Germany with more than 1.3 million visitors every year. Look how incredibly impressive it is in winter!
Chateau De Versailles, France
This majestic chateau was built in the 17th century and was the center of political power and a symbol of French absolute monarchy. Today, it is one of the most popular European sights and it houses galleries and museums of French history.
Hochosterwitz Castle, Austria
Situated on a rocky hill in the state of Carinthia, this romantic castle is a prime medieval fortress in Austria that dates all the way back to 860. These days, some parts of the castle including all 14 fortified gates are open to the public.
Prague Castle, Czech Republic
Occupying a total area of over 18 acres; Prague Castle is the largest castle complex in the world and a major Prague tourist site.
Pembroke Castle, Wales
Situated on a rocky promontory in Pembroke, West Wales, this 11th century medieval fortress has appeared in several movies such as “Jabberwocky” and “Richard II”.
Chateau De Martainville, France
Located in north-western France, the picturesque chateau is one the most popular medieval sites of the region. Today, it houses a brilliant exhibit of everyday furniture, life items, and costumes from 16th – 19th century Normandy.
Trakai Castle, Lithuania
This island castle was one of the main centers of Grand Duchy of Lithuania and as such, had great strategic importance. Today, it’s one of the most popular tourist attraction in Lithuania.
Balmoral Castle, Scotland
Balmoral stately castle has been privately owned by the British Royal Family since 1852 when it was purchased by Prince Albert; consort to Queen Victoria. It’s this castle that served as the Queen’s residence at the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997.
Frankenstein Castle, Germany
There are speculations that the Frankenstein Castle might have been part of the inspiration for Marry Shelley’s gothic novel Frankenstein. True or not, this is definitely the scariest castle on our list.
Bojnice Castle, Slovakia
This medieval castle situated near the town of Bojnice, Slovakia was built in the 12th century and has a mixture of romantic, gothic and renaissance features. In 1950, the castle was largely destroyed by a fire but it was rebuilt later at the Slovakian government´s expense.
Orebro Castle, Sweden
Located on an island in the river Svartan, this stone castle has witnessed many important events in Swedish history. Nowadays, some parts of it are used for art and music exhibitions; guided tours, etc.
Chateau De´Usse, France
Another great example of Chateaus of the Loire Valley; this medieval stronghold was one of the constructions that inspired some of Walt Disney’s fairytale castles and chateaus.