Eilean Donan is one of the most famous castles in all of the UK. At one time it was the stronghold of the Mackenzie and Macrae clans. This castle is located on a small island in the Scottish Highlands surrounded by three sea lochs – Loch Dutch, Loch Long, and Loch Alsh. The castle has become popular due to movies like “Highlander” and “The World Is Not Enough,” a James Bond movie. Eilean Donan was built in the 13th century, destroyed in the 17th century, and rebuilt in the 20th century.
Another iconic castle in Scotland is Castle Stalker also located on an island, this one in Loch Laich. The small tower offers a fantastic background of the Highlands and the mountains. Loch Laich is located near Oban, on the west coast of Scotland, housing the small tower-keep since 1320. This castle has been associated with many powerful Scottish clans like the Stewarts and Campbells. Today it is privately owned.
Chateau de Chantilly is located about an hour from the capital, Paris. It dates back to the mid to late 19th century after the original castle was destroyed during the French Revolution. The exterior and interiors of the castle are impressive examples of Renaissance architecture. Even though Chantilly Castle never belonged to French royalty, it was owned by noble families. The castle is surrounded by beautiful grounds and gardens with lovely ponds. Presently it is home to the Musee Conde. There are rooms remodeled as museum spaces and those left as residential quarters from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Musse Conde has a collection of old master paintings which are among the most important in France. There are Italian and French artworks, among them three paintings by Fra Angelico, three by Raphael, five by Nicolas Poussin, four by Antione Watteau, and five signed by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. The museum has a collection that includes 2,500 drawings and a library with 1,500 manuscripts, of which 200 are illuminated. There are also collections of prints, portrait miniatures, sculptures, antiques, old photographs, decorative arts, furniture, and porcelain. As bequest by the Duke d'Aumale, these collections can only be seen at Chantilly, so the museum remains mostly unchanged since it opened in 1898.
Chateau de Chambord is the largest chateau in the Loire Valley. It is a fined example of French Renaissance architecture. This castle is recognized worldwide, and its unique design blends Medieval forms with Renaissance structures. It was built in the early 16th century and at one time was the hunting lodge for King Francis I of France. The chateau is surrounded by vast grounds and a forest. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Of interest is the double helix staircase with two sets of steps so people can go up, at the same time that people come down. This amazing castle has more than 400 rooms and nearly 300 fireplaces. Sixty of the rooms are open to the public.
Chateau de Chenonceau has a unique design with an arched bridge above the River Cher. It is one of the best-known chateaus in the Loire Valley and dates back to the 16th century. The architecture combines the elements of Gothic and Renaissance architecture on the exterior. The interior features a collection of furniture, tapestries, and artworks. The castle is surrounded by a lovely park.
Gravensteen is a medieval fortress located in the city of Ghent. It dates back to the late 12th century and was the residence of the Counts of Flanders until the mid-14th century. The castle was built to purposely look threatening, inspired by crusade castles. It features Medieval castle elements like a keep, a fortified, oval-shaped enceinte, bartizans (overhanging well-mounted turret), and a moat. Until the 18th century, it was used as a court and prison.
Castle de Harr is located in the Utrecht province and is the largest castle in Holland. This Medieval-looking castle was built between the changing of the 19th and 20th centuries on the ruins of a previous castle. It was once owned by the Rothchild family. The interior features impressive wood carvings. It is surrounded by a beautiful park with old trees, gardens, and ponds.
Burg Kreuzenstein is located just a few miles north fo the capital, Vienna. It was built on top of the ruins of a previous castle. During the reconstruction, parts of other Medieval structures all over Europe were purchased and used in the building of the castle. It has been used as a filming location for several movies and TV series.
Neuschwanstein Castle, a 19th-century Romanesque Revival-style castle, is the most visited in Germany. This castle was the inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty castle. It was commissioned by King Ludwig II, who lived in an imaginative world. The building of the castle took well over two decades, and the king lived in it for only 172 days. The castle is surrounded by forests and mountains.
Hohenzollern Castle is located in the Baden-Wurttemberg region in southwest Germany. The castle is perched atop Mount Hohenzollern. The castle consists of military architecture, palatial buildings, chapels, and gardens. Since it sits 855 meters above sea level, the view from the castle is breathtaking, and on clear days you can see as far as 100 km away.
Moszna Castle is located in the small village of Moszna in southwestern Poland. This 17th-century castle features Baroque, neo-Gothic, and neo-Renaissance architectural styles. It was once the residence of industrial magnates, the Silesian Tiele-Winckler family. This castle has an impressive total of 99 turrets and 365 interior rooms. At one time, it was home to a health institution specializing in psychiatry and neurology.
Predjama Castle is one of the most unique castles in the world, located about an hour south of the capital, Ljubljana. It was built into a cave on the side of a cliff. Amazing as it might seem, the Slovene version of Robin Hood, Erazem Lueger, lived and died here. He was able to evade the Holy Roman Emperor due to the series of hidden passageways leading throughout the cave. In 1991, a hidden treasure was discovered on the castle grounds.
Bled Castle sits on a cliff overlooking Lake Bled, which has the crystal blue waters of an alpine lake. The island with the castle is in the lake as well as a church. The background is lovely with the Julian Alps. It is supposedly the oldest castle in Slovenia, dating back to at least 1011. Today events like weddings and political meetings are held here. There is a restaurant, wine cellar, and museum.
Corvin Castle is also referred to as Hunyadi Castle and is built in the Gothic-Renaissance architectural style. It dates from the Middle Ages and is one of the largest castles in Europe. This castle has been featured in movies, video games, and TV shows.
Peles Castle, high up in the Carpathian Mountains, is surrounded by remote woods. The building of the castle began in 1873 at the bequest of Carol I, King of Romania. It took ten years to build and is considered to be one of the most modern castles in Europe.
Today you can tour the interior with its amazing spiral staircase and the nearby smaller hunting lodge.
Cesky Krumlov Castle in the south of the country has been featured in several movies. It has a unique pink tower overlooking the Vltava River and the charming town of Cesky Krumlov.
Another unusual thing about this castle is that there are bears living in the moat.
Karlstejn Castle is a short train ride from the capital, Prague. It overlooks flat farmlands and has a black roof and Gothic architecture. It can be seen from all points in the small village. You can get sausages to sample at the castle, and there are artifacts on display. There is an interesting ancient courtyard and impressive battlements.
San Giovanni Castle is also known as St. John's Castle and sits high above Kotor Bay and the lovely town of Kotor. It has been a fort since Byzantine rule and survived Venetian conquerors, several earthquakes, bombed by British forces, and occupied during WW II. The fortifications are a UNESCO World Heritage site. Once you hike up to the castle, you can get amazing views of the bay and the Montenegrin Mountains.
The ruins of Spis Castle, high on the hills, are located near the town of Spisske Podhradie. There is a path leading up to the castle. The castle dates from the 12th century and was used as a defensive stronghold and as an upper-class courtier destination. Even though it is in ruins, many sections are preserved as a museum.
Alcazar of Segovia is an impressive Spanish castle built in the Moorish architectural style. It dates from the 12th century and is a typical fortress high atop of a rocky crag. The exterior has a moat, a drawbridge, and four towers. There is a Herrerian courtyard.
Castillo de Coca was built in the Western and Moorish military architectural style, featuring Gothic elements. It dates back to the 15th century showcasing one of the finest examples of Spanish Mudejar brickwork. The castle has a three-tier defense system and, since the 1920s, has been a Spanish national monument. Parts of the castle are open to the public, including the chapel, the weapons room, and the central keep.
Alcazar of Seville has been featured in movies like Lawrence of Arabia, Kingdom of Heaven, and the cult series Game of Thrones. It is one of the most visited places in Spain and Seville. The castle was built for the Christian King Peter of Castile. It is a fine example of Mudejar architecture and has a Patio de las Doncellas courtyard. The 14th-century Salon de Audiencias is still being used as the ruling monarch's reception room. Guided tours are available.