What draws us to castles and chateaus? Is it the grand walls, the incredible architecture or the enchanting dramas and history that took place within them that grabs our attention? Perhaps it is the infusion of both the mystic and romantic.
Do you enjoy feeling small and insignificant in the shadows of looming walls, strolling through castle corridors? Or do you like to retrace the steps of those that have inhabited them? As your imagination begins to whir and tick, you dream about the secrets of the past. Imagining the stories depicted in the artworks of master craftsmen.
Read on to discover the world's best castles and chateaus, and exciting history and events behind them.
The Fırtına Valley of the Çamlıhemşin district in Rize is home to one of the most mysterious castles in Turkey, Zilkale. The castle was built by the Kommenos in the 13th century on the route of the historic Silk Road. The Kommenos lived in the region and built Zilkale on a 750-meter high rock. The castle was later inhabited by the Greeks and Ottomans, especially the Genoese, until the end of the 1800s, and managed to survive for centuries. To reach Zilkale and explore the guard building, chapel and main tower, book a flight to Trabzon or book a flight to Artvin. Make sure to explore the nearby highlands, and try the delicious cuisine of the Black Sea region.
Built before 1025, the Burghausen Castle is known as the world's longest castle and extends for a whopping 1051 meters. Located in Upper Bavaria, Germany, the castle was the second residence of the Dukes of Lower Bavaria. Built in a Gothic style with an inner courtyard and five outer courtyards. Some visit the castle simply for its unique views. To discover Burghausen Castle, one of Germany’s most spectacular castles, book a flight to Munich.
On the UNESCO World cultural heritage list since 2000, the Kronborg Castle is one of the most magnificent castles in Europe. Immortalized as Elsinore in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, this castle was built around 1420. To reach the castle you must pass through the defense apparatus: bridges, ditches, and Gates, those were put in place for strategic purposes in Northern Europe during the 16th and 18th centuries. Explore the Knights' Hall, the section belonging to the royal family and the outdoor Maritime Museum on your visit. Special events are held at the castle at certain times of the year; Watch theatre performances and partake in festivals held in the memory of Shakespeare. Try and catch the performances of the Royal Ballet combined with the dances of Royal Danish artists. Book a flight to Copenhagen to visit the Kronborg Castle.
A rare gem of a structure that has remained intact for the past 1000 years, Edinburgh Castle, is a symbol of Edinburgh and one of the most beautiful castles in all of Scotland. Built on bedrock, the Castle is protected by the Flodden Walls which date back to the 16th century. Astounding views can be seen from the Castle which dominates the skyline over the area Castle Rock. It is a lovely spot to watch the sunset. The Royal Palace, where the royal jewels are on display and the Honours of Scotland castle are some must-see parts of the castle along with St. Margeret's Chapel and The King's Room. There are many places to explore in Edinburgh; Check our guide to find out more.
On the outskirts of the Alps lies the fairytale Neuschwanstein Chateau, a 6-floored structure in the Neo-romantic architectural style of the 19th century that is situated on the Romantic Road connecting Füssen and Würzburg, in Germany. In 1886, the Bavarian King Ludwig II ordered and commission that “a castle so hard to reach and besiege” be built “that it will amaze.” It took 20 years to build the chateau yet, sadly, it is alleged that King Ludwig only got to live there for 11 days. Today, you can visit the castle, which serves as a museum, accompanied by choir sounds and special music. The most popular spots in the castle are the Viewing point and the Marien Bridge, which are two of the best places to photograph the breathtaking views of the Alps. To visit the Chateau, book a flight to Munich.
Chambord Castle, one of the most magnificent castles in the world and France, is one of the rare examples of both medieval and Renaissance architecture. Designed by François I as a hunting lodge, the Chambord Château layout is reminiscent of a classic Castle with corner towers and a moat, although it was not built for defensive purposes. The walls, corner towers, and Moat are purely for decorative purposes. In many parts of the castle, you will see the letter 'F' because it symbolizes François and France. The castle, which has 440 rooms, 282 fireplaces, and 84 staircases, has been used for short stays by the king and the commander over the years. Therefore, there were never any fixed items in the castle. When the Chateau was to be in use, they allegedly moved in items from the Royal warehouse. Chambord Castle was looted during the French Revolution and used as a military hospital during the Germany-France war between 1870 and 1871. The castle, which at first glance seems quite empty, is ornamented by the exhibitions held from time to time. You can keep up to date with such events on the castle's website. Let's add that the best time at Chambord Castle is during Christmas. Illuminated by lights, the Château looks like a sparkling jewel. The events and Christmas spirit will make for a wonderful New Year's Eve. To reach the chateau, book a flight to Paris and use public transport or rent a car.
Kilkenny Castle, one of the finest castles in Ireland, was built by William Marshal between 1195-1213 at the request of the Butler Dynasty. Don't forget to tour the gallery sections, the fireplace made of carved marble, kitchens, tea rooms and the Rose Garden of The Kilkenny Castle, one of the best examples of 12th-century Victorian architecture. We recommend that you stay for at least one night at the castle. Wake up to the magical setting of Kilkenny Castle, have a good massage at the spa center and then wind up the day with a wonderful specially prepared dinner. Book a flight to Dublin and rent a car to reach this beautiful castle.
Leeds Castle is one of the loveliest castles in England with its splendid architecture, and spectacular grounds. The Castle was built in 1086 on the islands of a lake formed by the River Len in Leeds. Leeds Castle came into the hands of King Henry I in the 13th century, and 3 centuries later became the dwelling of Henry VIII’s wife. The Castle’s defining features are its crenelated towers, ornamental pond, moat, and colorful stones, as well as 500 acres of lush parkland. At the castle, you can visit one of Britain's finest aviaries and the Dog Collar Museum, which houses 400 years collection. At Leeds Castle, you can not only tour the castle but also take part in a variety of events. Apart from concerts and workshops, you can attend special dinners held at the castle. Why not stay the night? You can try glamping in the Castle gardens. During your stay, you can enjoy Knight-themed activities such as eating from special materials and receive special training. Book a flight to London, then rent a car to reach the beautiful Leeds Castle.
Himeji Castle, located in the south of the Japanese island Honshu, is a rare structure that survived World War II. Built in 1333 and completed in 1618, this well-preserved castle complex has maze-like roads that connect over 80 structures. As you wander through the labyrinthine roads, don't forget to view the moats and gardens you encounter on your way. There are also boat tours through the moats. As the cherry blossoms bloom in April the best time of year to plan a to visit Himeji Castle is in the springtime. The castle has plenty of impressive details such as the fish-shaped roof decorations, believed to protect you from fire. Book a flight to Osaka to explore Himeji Castle, and take a look at our guide to plan the rest of your trip.