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Top 10

Enchanting castles

From the fairytale-like Neuschwanstein Castle to a mysterious robber’s castle in the caves of Slovenia, Europe has hundreds of surprising castles to explore. We take you to majestic regions and list the most beautiful – from Denmark to Southern Spain.

Explore castles

Burg Hohenzollern, Germany

High above the clouds

This castle in the clouds sits atop the 855 metre-high Zoller Mountain in Baden-Württemberg. Although it may look like a medieval knight’s castle, the first stone was not laid until 1850. Inside, you can marvel at a treasure trove of Prussian crowns and jewels.

  • Top10 Kastelen 01 Burg Hohenzollern

    Broadway Tower, England

    Thin needle

    The narrow Broadway Tower rises high into the sky above the English Cotswolds. This 20 metre-high folly was built for Lady Coventry who wondered whether a beacon on this hill could be seen from her house – and it could. Nowadays, the tower houses a bakery and museum. Interesting detail: there is an intact nuclear bunker from the Cold War beneath the estate.

    • Top10 Kastelen 02 Broadway Tower

      Frederiksborg Castle, Denmark

      Renaissance castle

      Red bricks, symmetrical stepped gables and copper roofs: Frederiksborg Castle was built in 1600 on the order of Danish King Christian IV and is the largest Renaissance building in all of Scandinavia. The pride of the castle is the Neptune fountain in the courtyard, which, on its unveiling in 1622, was said to symbolise the power of the Danes. The original was captured a few decades later by Swedish troops and is now located in Stockholm.

      Top10 Kastelen 03 Slot Frederiksborg Img
      • Top10 Kastelen 03 Slot Frederiksborg Bg

        Predjama Castle, Slovenia

        Caves and secret tunnels

        It was from this castle at the top of a deep cave system in Slovenia that the legendary 15th century robber baron Erasmus of Lueg set off to pillage. He eventually got into trouble with Austrian Emperor Frederick III who wanted to starve him to death in his castle, but Erasmus managed to get food through a secret tunnel. The castle and tunnels are open to the public, while the caves are currently home to a large colony of bats.

        • Top10 Kastelen 04 Predjama

          Palácio da Pena, Portugal

          Colourful castle

          With its towers, domes and gargoyles in yellow, blue, pink and gold, this colourful castle at an elevation of 450 metres above the Portuguese city of Sintra is nothing short of a modern work of art. The 19th century Palácio da Pena is the former summer palace of the Portuguese royal family and is surrounded by a lush park with a labyrinth of walking trails.

          • Top10 Kastelen 05 Palacio Da Pena

            Alhambra, Spain

            Almighty Alhambra

            The world-famous Alhambra was built in the 13th century by the Moorish rulers of Granada and ended up in the hands of the Spanish royal couple of Ferdinand and Isabella of Aragon after the Reconquista. The enormous complex is 140,000 m2 in size and has several palaces and inner gardens decorated with beautiful mosaics and Islamic art.

            Top10 Kastelen 06 Alhambra Img
            • Top10 Kastelen 06 Alhambra Bg

              Château de Chenonceau, France

              Powerful women

              This charming castle above the Cher is also known as the ‘Château des Dames’, as the history of the estate is dominated by powerful women. This 16th century chateau was designed by Catherine Briçonnet. It was next inhabited by the mistress of King Henry II of France and later by his wife Catharina de' Medici who loved to hold extravagant parties.

              • Top10 Kastelen 07 Chenonceau

                Eilean Donan, Scotland

                Cinematic castle

                Foggy, rugged and mysterious – exactly how you might imagine a medieval castle in the Scottish Highlands. Eilean Donan was built in the 13th century to protect against the Vikings who ravaged the northern coast of Scotland. In the last few decades, the castle could often be seen on the silver screen in such films as Highlander, Loch Ness and the Bond film The World Is Not Enough.

                Top10 Kastelen 08 Eilean Donan Img
                Eilean Donan 1St Frame

                Hunedoara Castle, Romania

                Dracula’s haunted castle

                The long bridge to Corvin Castle in Hunedoara stands high above the rocks of Transylvania. The fortress was built in 1440 by the Hungarian rulers of the area and is the setting of many a legend. It is said, for instance, that the famous Vlad Dracula was imprisoned here and that the castle is haunted by ghosts.

                Top10 Kastelen 09 Hunedoara

                Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

                A fairytale come true

                The fairytale-like castle of Neuschwanstein was built in 1868 for the eccentric Bavarian King Ludwig II who wanted to live in a knight’s castle. With all its towers and frills, the castle was never completed. After Ludwig’s death in 1886, the extremely expensive building project was stopped immediately. All the same, with its extravagantly adorned rooms, Neuschwanstein is one of the most popular sights in Germany.

                • Top10 Kastelen 10 Neuschwanstein
                  Boris Jordan Photography / Getty Images


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