A mention of medieval castles conjures up images of warring knights, Gothic towers, royal families, and an ethereal wonder. Truthfully, we are not too far away from that picture. Many palaces, fortresses, and castles across Europe and Asia look like they were born out of our fantasies. They are enchanting, and they are places that you can visit. Here is our guide to some of the best medieval castles in the world.
Eilean Donan | Scotland
It is no wonder that a castle located on an island where three sea lochs meet would be nothing less than exemplary. This jaw-dropping setting has earned Eilean Donan a reputation not only in Scotland but across Europe.
Along with a display of fine paintings, weaponry, Jacobean artifacts, and medieval furnishings, the castle also indulges the visitors with its historical tales of wars and battles. The castle is steeped in its Scottish heritage and so much beauty that surrounds it. A walk across the bridge leading to the island it stands on is a testimony to how truly scenic the place is.
Address: Dornie, Kyle of Lochalsh IV40 8DX, United Kingdom | Timings: Timings may vary. Please visit https://www.eileandonancastle.com/visit/opening-hours/ for the latest timings. | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/Ep4oDHfo64bhWEzN9 | Phone Number: +441599555202
Eltz Castle | Germany
This beautiful ode to a knight’s castle, Eltz Castle, unfolds 850 years of history and marvel to its visitors. Surrounded by Elzbach Valley’s wilderness in Germany, this fortress epitomizes the whimsical dream of one of the faraway medieval European castles.
While its high towers and brick walls are picturesque enough, the castle’s true glory lies in the majestic halls, the armory, and a fabulous treasury that hold one of the most distinguished private collections of gold and silver, among other artifacts.
Eltz Castle has withstood the test of wartime eras and remained almost unscathed. Interestingly, the Eltz family still owns the castle.
Address: 56294 Wierschem, Germany | Timings: 9:30 am to 5:30 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/ePRWQbVYGQtqDQaW9 | Phone Number: +492672950500
Bran Castle | Romania
Romania cannot remain unmentioned when we are mooning over medieval castles. Bran Castle has been shrouded in lore and notoriety due to its connection to Dracula. This fortress stands high on the mountain range between Wallachia and Transylvania in Romania.
Bran Castle’s rugged towers topped with pointed roofs make for a dramatic silhouette. This 14th-century palace now acts as a museum for visitors to explore. And while you’re at the Bran Castle, you can even check out its timbered rooms, many of them linked through underground passaged. An adventure does lurk around every corner at Bran.
Address: Strada General Traian Moșoiu 24, Bran 507025, Romania | Timings: Tuesday to Sunday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://g.page/BranDraculasCastle?share | Phone Number: +40268237700
Edinburgh Castle | Scotland
The noble façade of Edinburgh Castle echoes above the capital of Scotland as it sits atop Castle Rock. The strategic location agrees with the sensibility that the fortress has been used as a military base. But there is an undeniable raw magnetic pull that draws in the visitors to this European medieval castle.
Edinburgh Castle’s history goes back to nearly nine centuries ago when the foundation stone was laid on the site of an extinct volcano. Today, from the Scottish Crown Jewels to National War Memorial and military museums to the gorgeous views, Edinburgh Castle offers an eclectic range of tourist attractions.
Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, United Kingdom | Timings: 1st October – 31st March 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, 1st April – 30th September 9:30 am to 6:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/T1fpbQNwKzPHE7499 | Phone Number: +441312259846
Mont Saint-Michel | France
A dreamlike castle on an island, Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most beautiful castles in the world and a staggeringly gorgeous attraction of France. Nestled in a bay in Normandy, it is so breathtaking that it served as a muse for the castle shown in the Disney movie ‘Tangled’.
The idea of Mont Saint-Michel was born in a dream to Bishop Aubert of Avranches in the early 8th century. It began as a church and attracted pilgrims to France from all over Christendom. Today, the Romanesque design of the castle is one of the finest examples of European architecture. It is every bit as elegant as awe-inspiring.
Address: Grande Rue, 50170 Le Mont-Saint-Michel, France | Timings: 9:30 am to 7:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/ea1uuBnkTNcFFfia9 | Phone Number: +33233601430
Kilkenny Castle | Ireland
There are European medieval castles and then there are architectural wonders that bring a whole new dimension to the word palatial. Kilkenny Castle was first built as a wooden fort in the latter half of the 12th century. Today, this landmark in Ireland has been rebuilt into a stone castle of Anglo-Norman style with sprinkles of Gothic Revival design.
The perfectly manicured gardens of Kilkenny Castle, erected along the River Nore, infuse a sense of tranquility. Visitors can spend some time in the castle’s tearoom, which has many of the remnants of the original cutlery. A trip to this medieval castle of Ireland will be the refreshing highlight of your day.
Address: The Parade, Collegepark, Kilkenny, R95 YRK1, Ireland | Timings: Timings may vary. Please visit http://kilkennycastle.ie/tickets-and-times/ for the latest timings. | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/bX2oCBAKqb2tWHLL8 | Phone Number: +353567704100
Castel del Monte | Italy
Castel del Monte tucked away in a quiet forest of Italy is unlike any other medieval castles. Bereft of pointed towers, this castle has an octagonal base with a protruding column at every corner.
The fortress was promptly abandoned soon after it was built by Frederik II for reasons unknown. But that does not take away from the intricacies of its architecture. The geometric layout includes features of Islamic Orient, European Cistercian Gothic, and classical styles. As Castel del Monte has remained almost untouched by time, one can feel like they have traveled back through centuries with a visit to this mysterious castle.
Address: 67023 Province of L’Aquila, Italy | Timings: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/X9vvf17vrHfyeGxM6 | Phone Number: +393279805551
Windsor Castle | England
No place spells royalty better than England and nothing could be more royal than castles. Thus, it is only befitting that Windsor Castle, built as one of the official residences of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, is the most popular of all medieval castles across Europe.
The pristine estates of Windsor Castle make for a wonderful trip for the visitors traveling to England. You can only marvel at the castle characterized by Victorian and Gregorian design with some Gothic highlights. But what sets Windsor Castle apart is the fact that it is the largest palace with the longest occupancy by a monarch in the world. We’re talking close to ten centuries!
Address: Windsor SL4 1NJ, United Kingdom | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/9k2G1WghtkMBD6BR8 | Phone Number: +443031237334
Vianden Castle | Luxembourg
Perched on a small hill in the European country of Luxembourg lies one of the largest walled medieval castles west of Rhine – Vianden Castle. Its foundation was laid in the 10th century, but the construction continued till the end of the 14th century when Gothic trimmings were added to the original Romanesque architecture.
The view from this medieval castle is worthy of a postcard; it overlooks the pretty village of Vianden. The interior of the castle is equally charming, recreated to resemble how it must have looked during the rule of Counts of Vianden.
It is a no-brainer as to why Vianden Castle is a much-loved attraction in Luxembourg.
Address: Montée du Château, 9408 Vianden, Luxembourg | Timings: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/3tPKGmbCCJHm8tod6 | Phone Number: +3528341081
Alhambra | Spain
Alhambra, roughly translated to ‘The Red Castle’, is a regal complex of palace and fort in Spain. The strong bearings of Moorish architecture give away Alhambra’s connection to the last Muslim empire of the Iberian Peninsula of Spain. Built eight centuries ago by Nasrid emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar, it was transformed to become the royal palace in 1333.
Some significant areas of the palace of Alhambra are the Court of Myrtles, Court of Lions, Hall of Ambassadors, and the Royal Complex as well as several beautiful gardens and museums of historical importance.
Address: Calle Real de la Alhambra, s/n, 18009 Granada, Spain | Timings: 8:30 am to 8:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/dJZsttAcnjDgFfWq7 | Phone Number: +34958027971
Malbork Castle | Poland
The 13th century Malbork Castle in Poland is the largest castle in the world as measured by land, according to UNESCO. In fact, at some point in time, it housed more than 3000 knights. The brick construction of Malbork Castle is a marriage of pragmatic and beautiful Gothic construction.
This impressive accomplishment of human engineering used to pose as a center of military and religious activities before it became the official residence of the royal family of Poland for close to three centuries. A visit to Malbork Castle makes for a great day tour from the coastal city of Gdansk.
Address: Starościńska 1, 82-200 Malbork, Poland | Timings: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/bu3dgzqNvFLPMYDp7 | Phone Number: +48556470800
Château de Chenonceau in Chenonceaux | France
One of the most amazing castles of Loire Valley, Château de Chenonceau, has an arresting appeal that can make you stop in your tracks at the first glimpse. It is rightly nicknamed as “Ladies’ Castle” for it was the women, through centuries, who led the reins of its destiny.
The women of Château de Chenonceau have made it the Renaissance masterpiece that it is today, filled with artistic gems and opulent décor. From 1547 to 1559, the original structure on the banks of River Cher was extended as a bridge that held a gallery and a grand ballroom. While we wrap our heads around the sheer allure of Château de Chenonceau of France, it would be a mistake not to mention its immaculately built gardens.
Address: 37150 Chenonceaux, France | Timings: Timings may vary. Please visit https://www.chenonceau.com/en/practical-information/opening-times/ for the latest timings.| Google Map Location: https://g.page/chenceauceaucastle?share | Phone Number: +33820209090
Citadel of Qaitbay | Egypt
The Citadel of Qaitbay on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea may seem romantic, but its design reveals its ethos. This 15th-century medieval times castle was built as a defense strategy against the advancing Ottoman army. It stands on the site where the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, once stood!
The Citadel of Qaitbay suffered much destruction during the British bombardment of Alexandria in 1882. After almost a century, it was rebuilt into the imposing structure that it is today. The fortress houses a mosque as well as a naval museum within its walls and offers a pretty view of the coast.
Address: As Sayalah Sharq, Qesm Al Gomrok, Alexandria Governorate, Egypt | Timings: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/a9oA9ThL1aDYFUZcA
Trakai Island Castle | Lithuania
You’d think that island castles would be the famous castles. Trakai Island Castle in Lithuania is one of the understated castles. Even though it is a large brick castle, its architectural style is quite modest. Its museum displays nearly 400,000 exhibits, including an applied art collection, armory, utensils, and ancient maps.
Trakai Island Castle of Lithuania is connected to the mainland by a long bridge. With serene blue water on all sides, it feels so blissful to stand within the walls of the castle. Do experience it for yourself when in Lithuania!
Address: Trakai 21142, Lithuania | Timings: March to October 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, November to February 10:00 am to 5:00 pm | Google Map Location https://goo.gl/maps/nRyueuKku2EFcS5i7 | Phone Number: +37052853946
Matsumoto Castle in Matsumoto | Japan
One of the ‘National Treasures of Japan’, Matsumoto Castle warrants your attention for a visit. Matsumoto Castle is an authentic experience of Japanese design and the oldest five-tiered building standing in the country.
Keen observation of its steep staircase and openings for arches tells a story of the Warring States Period when the conflict was commonplace. However, that has not stopped Matsumoto Castle to be any less grand. The real beauty of the palace fully comes to life during the cherry blossom season in April.
Address: 4-1 Marunouchi, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0873, Japan | Timings: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/1EnsKawfpbJeUVkL7 | Phone Number: +81263322902
Bojnice Castle in Bojnice | Slovakia
If there was ever a dollhouse version of medieval castles, Bojnice Castle would fit the bill. With elements of Renaissance and Gothic architectural design and pretty towers, the castle has undergone several renovations since it was first built in the 12th century. It had originally begun as a wooden building and slowly became a castle made of stone.
Inside this cute castle is a tasteful collection of tapestry, antiques, and artwork. On the outside, an expansive lush park surrounds the Bojnice Castle and adds to its exquisite charm. A single look at this European castle and you would not be surprised that it is one of the most toured attractions in Slovakia.
Address: Zámok a okolie 1, 972 01 Bojnice, Slovakia | Timings: Timings may vary. Please visit http://www.bojnicecastle.sk/otvaracie%20hodiny-en.html for the latest timings. | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/zsCG1A4wpcKT6CFZ8 | Phone Number: +421465430624
Neuschwanstein Castle | Germany
One can never be prepared enough to behold the splendor of Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian region of Germany. Year after year, it consistently hits the charts of the best castles in the world.
The castle looks like it has been plucked out of a fairytale. We’re not exaggerating! Neuschwanstein Castle is the key inspiration being the iconic Walt Disney castle. The white stone towers and bright blue towers soar high against the Bavarian Alps, making the castle look magnificent in any season.
As you tour the insides, the 14 chambers, including Throne Room, King’s Dressing Room, and Singer’s Hall, will delight you with their rich beauty.
Address: Neuschwansteinstraße 20, 87645 Schwangau, Germany| Timings: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/tBFJKpAviuM7GxFQ7 | Phone Number: +498362930830
Fasil Ghebbi in Gondar | Ethiopia
Fasil Ghebbi is not just a fortress or a vestige of Ethiopian royal residence. It is a milestone in history that signified the country’s political and cultural change. It was built four centuries by Emperor Fasiladas, who wanted to end the seminomadic life that his ancestors lived.
The grey stone construction may give Fasil Ghebbi an intimidating outlook, but on the inside, it is evident that a thriving community once lived within the walls. The earliest buildings reflect influences of Arabic and Hindu design, while the later construction mirror etchings of Moorish, Portuguese, and Moorish architecture. Fasil Ghebbi tells the history of the land through its towers.
Address: Gondar, Amhara Region, Ethiopia | Timings: 8:30 am to 5:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/UTFcMeMrJgSayeTU7 | Phone Number: +251911021308
Osaka Castle | Japan
A turn away from the monotone Matsumoto Castle, Osaka Castle looks lively and enchanting, especially during the cherry blossom season. While not the largest castle in Japan, Osaka Castle’s architecture makes it one of the famous castles of Japan.
It is surrounded by an incredible stone wall and moats, and a park where nearly 600 cherry trees beautify the land. The top floor offers a 360-degree breathtaking view of Osaka. The main building has seen much destruction since it was first built in 1583. Visitors can learn about the history and Osaka Castle’s first patron, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, by walking around the museum inside the now rebuilt castle.
Address: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 540-0002, Japan | Timings: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/rDPxWDabwKfaMsxU8 | Phone Number: +81669413044
Glamis Castle | Scotland
The conical roofs over rounded towers protruding from the walls of the majestic Glamis Castle mark the signature Gothic style of medieval castles in Europe. Remarkably, this castle bears 1000 years of history. Apart from being a royal residence, it is also the setting of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
The castle grounds are bustling with activities. Visitors can look forward to a tour of the main castle and the garden and a cup of afternoon tea in the Glamis Castle Kitchen. The countryside location of this Scottish castle makes for a beautiful sight.
Address: Forfar DD8 1RJ, Scotland, United Kingdom | Timings: Timings may vary. Please visit https://www.glamis-castle.co.uk/your-visit/opening-times/ for the latest timings.| Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/ZMr2hCyLd9qJ5GDSA | Phone Number: +441307840393
Nakhal Fort | Oman
In Nakhal Fort, one can find relics of the pre-Islamic era as well as additions builts by the several tribes that had occupied it through centuries, making it one of the oldest medieval castles. The irregular outer walls catch our eye, and it can be attributed to the shape of the huge boulder around which this giant fortress was built.
The nooks and holes and spiked doors are evidence that the fort was built as a defensive base against looters and invaders. As a result, Nakhal Fort is now a museum of antique guns and the medieval Arabic lifestyle. But on Fridays, it is also a venue for the local goat market.
Address: Nakhl, Oman | Timings: Saturday to Thursday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Friday 9:00 am to 11:00 am | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/yRjPw6yrPw7tbnLB9 | Phone Number: +96899821975
Leeds Castle | England
Built on two connected islands in a lake formed by the River Len, Leeds Castle also goes by the name “Castle of Queens, Queen of Castles. The waterfront location, stone set in the Gothic manner, and vast landscapes make Leeds Castle immensely lovely even by the royal standards of England.
The castle has been home to six medieval Queens in its lifetime and offered a life of opulence as well as adventure to them. Later, it had also been used to house Dutch and French prisoners of war. One can plan a day visit or an overnight visit to truly enjoy the grandeur as lived by the monarchy on the island.
Address: Broomfield, Maidstone ME17 1PL, United Kingdom | Timings: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/qX31XF7uw1iotjJb9 | Phone Number: +441622765400
Red Fort | India
The red sandstone blocks characterize the Red Fort, located in the heart of Old Delhi. It was built by the Mughal monarch Shah Jahan in the mid-17th century when he moved the capital of his empire from Agra to Delhi.
Once a royal residence for the Emperor of the Indian subcontinent and later a significant symbol of Indian Independence, Red Fort has always shone out through time. It weaves in the design elements of Mughal, Persian, and Hindu heritage which are reflected in paneled halls, carvings, geometrical gardens, ornate interiors. Visitors will have plenty to see and learn at Red Fort.
Address: Netaji Subhash Marg, Lal Qila, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, Delhi 110006, India | Timings: 9:30 am to 4:30 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/U2Sxwia7qcjiteZe9 | Phone Number: +911123277705
Burghausen Castle | Germany
The keeper of the Bavarian history and a residence of the dukes of Lower Bavaria, Burghausen is one of the finest examples of medieval castles. Built in true European style, it features turrets and towers that add to the castle’s appeal.
Germany is no stranger to the Gothic architecture of medieval castles, and it is generously seen in the Burghausen Castle. It also offers a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Unlike other castles of Germany, Burghausen Castle has a certain rustic charm to it. This Gothic place should be on your list if you want to see the world’s longest castle!
Address: Burg 48, 84489 Burghausen, Germany | Timings: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm | Google Map Location https://goo.gl/maps/b8ASfnAJqGd8cct66 | Phone Number: +4989179080
Highclere Castle | England
Fans of ‘Downtown Abbey’ would instantly recognize Highclere Castle as the spectacular residential place of the Earl of Grantham and his family. It is so picturesque that it may take your breath away. The Jacobethan style of England, 200 rooms, and splendid halls built with Italian furnishing spell out luxury at its finest.
The castle boasts of a great library and tastefully decorated halls that hold an enviable art collection. Highclere Castle is one of the largest and extravagant homes in England and Europe, sprawling across 1060 acres of well-manicured estate. We are naming it the heartthrob of medieval castles.
Address: Highclere Park, Highclere, Newbury RG20 9RN, United Kingdom | Timings: Timings may vary. Please visit https://www.highclerecastle.co.uk/ for public opening times and prices for the latest timings. | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/eW3KTeSPNTiiBVgi8 | Phone Number: +441635253210
Pena National Palace | Portugal
Let your imagination run wild at the Pena National Palace. The vibrant yellow and red colors are a striking choice that brings out the vibe of Portugal. The elaborate construction is a hedonistic combination of Neo-Islamic, Medieval, and Neo-Manueline designs, which are reflected in the domed roof, decorative mythical gargoyle at the entrance, and fascinating stone carvings on the wall.
All this is in beautiful contrast to the serene and verdant surrounding of the Parque de Pena forest. However, the interior match the bold exterior. It is sumptuous and super elegant. Pena National Palace may as well be a fantasy come to life!
Address: Estrada da Pena, 2710-609 Sintra, Portugal | Timings: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm | Google Map Location https://goo.gl/maps/MXXQFBWWrAYWKPi4A | Phone Number: +351219237300
Catherine Palace | Russia
Not one for the neutral tones, Catherine Palace, is over-the-tops in the most beautiful way. Located near St. Petersburg, this 18th-century palace designed in Rococo-style is a stunner with its blue and white stucco façade and gold-gilded sculptures.
The mirthful ambiance of Catherine Palace made it the perfect place for the summer residence of the Russian tsars. The famed Amber Room, with its amber mosaic and delicate mirrors, was destroyed during World War II and was rebuilt 20 years after the work began in 1982. A visit to this castle is one way to get a hint of how lavishly the Russian monarchy must have lived.
Address: Garden St, 7, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 196601 | Timings: Wednesday to Monday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm | Google Map Location https://goo.gl/maps/49ou5LS3V2afya8o6 | Phone Number: +78124157667
Who needs fairytale castles when we have medieval castles like these for real! These centuries-old palatial towers can make our hearts beat faster. The grandeur and the individualistic beauty are so singular that each of these castles can spin a tale of their own. Which one is on the top of your list?