Not only do they offer the chance to climb spiraling stairways to the tops of the battlements, castles offer secretive passageways, unusual decoration, breathtakingly spectacular views and the chance to relive the past. Modern skyscrapers and luxury resorts don’t hold a candle to the raw power projected by a gigantic castle. Castles are fun to explore because they’re full of surprising rooms and terrifying dungeons, but some castles are so gigantic, or intricately designed and built, that our minds are blown just thinking about them.
Many of these castles are in Europe, the fairy-tale home of castles in popular culture. Explore below the 10 most mind-blowing castles of Europe, that are so different, so complex and so beautiful that we can’t believe they were built by humans.
A story created with passion and love by BEYOND LIMITS
1. Scaligero Castle, Sirmione- Lake Garda – Italy
Located in the town of Sirmione on Lake Garda (north Italy), the Castello Scaligero gets its name from the rulers of Verona, whose power extended all the way to here in the 13th and 14th centuries. It’s not just modern-day visitors who find the castle beautiful—in 1786, Goethe was arrested for making suspicious-seeming sketches of the castle! The only access to the castle is through the drawbridge as the other sides of the castle are surrounded by water. Part of the lake is also enclosed by its walls, thus making it one of the best examples of lacustrine architecture.
Garda Lake with its beauties can be visits with a daily excursion departing from Venice, or this region can be a perfect destination for a 3 days Incentive, always in combination with Venice or with Milan and others northern Italy Lakes, Maggiore and Como lake.
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2. Kamyanets-Podilskyi– Ukraine
Kamyanets-Podilskyi with its Castle and Historic center from UNESCO World Heritage list has the most places of architectural interest in Ukraine after Kyiv and Lviv. Situated in western Ukraine just 1.5 hours away from Chernivtsi local airport, Kamyanets is tourist mecca for travelers. Marvelous medieval fortress was described as “a stone flower on the rock” by famous Ukrainian poetess. Impressive Khotyn Castle also located 25km from Kamyanets. In the Castle you can make special MICE-event.
Besides castles you can see here natural canyons making unforgettable impression.
To get the most from this wonderful city, you should visit it during festival, which take place here almost all year round! Annual Cossack Games and festivals, which include the open hot air ballooning championship of Ukraine, car racing and various music, art and drama festivals, attract thousands of local tourists.
For special experience try Ukrainian highest bridge for bungee jumping ~75m high over the river, also you can drive armored vehicles BRDM-2, BRDM and 4×4.
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3. Monemvasia Castle – Greece
Visiting Monemvasia, the medieval castle town on the southeastern coast of the Peloponnese you feel overwhelmed by this magical place’s rawness, wildness, history and profound romanticism. Try to visit the castle in spring, summer and autumn, both with company and alone, as Monemvasia is an all-year destination, ideal for all emotional states.
Its uniqueness and its fairytale atmosphere remain as true as ever. Its history is written on the walls around you as you as you stroll inside the small alleys along the castle. The sense of isolation felt on this legendary rock, cut off from the coast of the Peloponnese by an earthquake in 375 AD, adds to the wonder.
As a natural fortress, it was inhabited and soon became a strategic fortress claimed the Byzantines, Franks, Venetians and Ottomans. Neither museum-like nor artificially fabricated, Monemvasia is Europe’s only castle that has never ceased being inhabited.
Behind the limestone with which it is built, around 15 people are permanent residents, but many more come and go daily. As for visitors, that goes without saying.
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4. Carlowrie Castle – Scotland
Carlowrie Castle with its location close to Edinburgh airport and the city centre makes it an ideal location for bringing people together. The Castle and its 32 acres of grounds provide you with the space and tranquillity to relax and escape the city. With flexible space for receptions, board meetings or private dining, we pride ourselves on designing and delivering an exceptional and bespoke service for each client.
Spend the night in one of our twelve luxurious bedrooms. All rooms are individually styled, spacious with nine in the Castle and three in the renovated Gate Lodge. The ensuite bathrooms feature handmade, roll top baths, marble tiles, underfloor heating and walk in showers. Wake up in your very own Victorian castle with modern essentials such as WiFi and satellite television. Guests can then relax in one of our many rooms from the Marble Lounge to our Bar and Piano room serving from Full Scottish Breakfast to evening dinner.
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5. Aragonese Castle, Ischia Island – South Italy
Sitting on the volcanic island of Ischia (the most developed and largest of the islands in the Bay of Naples), Aragonese Castle is accessible from Ischia by a small bridge. Amazingly, it dates from the 5th century and was built to protect the area from pirates and still looks as dramatic now from the surrounding mainland.
From the outpost of the Syracuse Greek Hiero I to the conquest of Alfonso of Aragon, from the splendour of Vittoria Colonna’s wedding to the English bombing in 1809, from total abandonment to recovery through the intuition of a farsighted Ischian lawyer: twenty-five centuries of history between churches, convents, prisons, lush gardens and breath-taking views,
suspended between the sky and the sea in a timeless atmosphere.
Ischia today is famed for its thermal spas, manicured gardens, and unshowy, straightforward Italian airs – a feature also reflected in its food. Ischia is a refreshing antidote to glitzy Capri.
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6. S. Jorge Castle – Portugal
The Castelo de S. Jorge – National Monument occupies a privileged area of the old medieval alcáçova (citadel) and consists of the castle, ruins of the former royal palace and part of the neighborhood for the elite.
The fortification, built by the Moors in the mid-11th century, was the last defensive stronghold for the elite who resided on the citadel: the Moorish governor whose palace was nearby, and the elite city administrators whose homes are visible today in the Archaeological Site.
After Dom Afonso Henriques conquered Lisbon on October 25th, 1147, to become the first king of Portugal, the Castelo de S. Jorge began its golden age as home for the royalty. The old Moorish period buildings were modified and enlarged to receive the king, his court and the bishop, as well as the Royal Archives in one of the castle towers. Once the Portuguese kings had transformed the Castelo de S. Jorge into a royal palace in the 13th century, it was chosen to receive many notable Portuguese and foreign figures, as well as hold festivities as well as coronations during the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.
10 IMPORTANT MOMENTS AT THE CASTELO DE S. JORGE
- 7th – 8th c. B.C. | BEFORE THE CASTLE • The first settlements
- 11th c. | FOUNDING OF THE CASTLE • The castle and Moorish quarter
- 12th c. | THE CHRISTIAN RECONQUEST • The transition from the Moorish to Christian worlds
- 13th c. | ROYAL RESIDENCE • The castle and the royal palace of the alcáçova
- 14th c. | ROYAL RESIDENCE • The Torre do Tombo and the Crisis of Succession
- 15th – 16th c. | ROYAL RESIDENCE • Court life and the last king at the castle
- 17th – 18th c. | FROM ROYAL RESIDENCE TO MILITARY BARRACKS
- 18th c. | EARTHQUAKE OF 1755
- 19th c. | THE CASTLE AS MILITARY GARRISON
- 20th c. | THE CASTLE – A NATIONAL MONUMENT – Restoration work from 1938-40
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7. Alcazar Castle – SPAIN
The Alcázar of Segovia is in the city of Segovia (Castile and Leon, Spain), and is classified as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The castle doesn’t fit the mold of most castles in Spain, which were constructed as fortresses and is rising out on a rocky crag above the confluence of two rivers near the Guadarrama mountains. It is reported to be the inspiration for the Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World and were decorated with great luxury and beauty by Mudéjar painters and artists.
Built in 1122, the castle has served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery College and a military academy since then. It is currently used as a museum and a military archive building. The castle can be visited and allow visitors to enjoy views over Segovia and the countryside.
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8. Charlottenburg Castle – GERMANY
Discover the magic of the rococo at the beautiful Charlottenburg Palace – completed in 1699 and once a royal summer residence. Today it is the largest and most magnificent palace in Berlin. Sophie Charlotte, the first Queen consort in Prussia, was not only an accomplished musician, playing the harpsichord and singing Italian opera, but also strolled through the grounds here with her friend, the renowned scholar and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. When she died, only 36 years old, the palace and surrounding area was named Charlottenburg after her. Sophie Charlotte, a great lover of the arts, invited poets, philosophers, musicians and artists to join her at her “court of the muses”. Even her husband King Friedrich I could only visit if she personally invited him. The castle is not only famous for its classical concerts and the spectacular Christmas Market in December but is a great event location as well.
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9. Malbork Castle – POLAND
The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork is a 13th-century Teutonic castle and fortress located near the town of Malbork, in Poland. It is the largest castle in the world measured by land area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It was originally constructed by the Teutonic Knights, a German Roman Catholic religious order of crusaders, in a form of an Ordensburg fortress. The Order named it Marienburg in honour of Mary, mother of Jesus. In 1466, during the division of Prussia into eastern and western parts, the castle and town became part of western Royal Prussia, a region of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It served as one of the several Polish royal residences, interrupted by several years of Swedish occupation, and fulfilling this function until the First Partition of Poland in 1772. Following Germany’s defeat in 1945, the land was reassigned to Poland.
If you’re looking up how to visit Malbork Castle, you’re most likely already in Gdansk, Poland. We spent about a week in Gdansk and found that it was a great base to explore the Tricity and surroundings. Despite the 60 km distance, Malbork is very easy to get to from here and there’s no need to spend extra money on an organized tour when you can save your pretty pennies and plan the day yourself.
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10. Karst Castle – Slovenia
A mere few kilometers from Postojna Cave, the Karst world offers an unforgettable experience in the fairytale world of knights. The impregnable medieval marvel has been perched in the middle of a 123-metre-high cliff for more than 800 years. Behind the largest cave castle in the world, there is a network of secret tunnels, from where the knight Erazem of Predjama would set out on his plundering expeditions. The world’s largest cave castle, listed as one of the Guinness World Records, tells a picturesque story about the times when comfort had to give way to safety, and when the clatter of weapons would often drown out troubadours’ songs. It is so special and unique, it ranks among the ten most fascinating castles in the world. ETC Adriatic using this location for special events and medieval team buildings.
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11. Chateau de Berne in Provence, France
In the heart of the true Provence, off the beaten track, a road makes its way through the ancestral vineyards of the wine estate of the Château de Berne.
The 18th-century Château de Berne is located on a 1235-acre forest & vineyard estate in the Var hinterlands. It’s located between the villages of Lorgues and Flays in Provence, France. You enter the property via a small country lane & when you get inside you are surrounded by vineyards and beautiful views. You can smell the grapes, flowers, and trees as you walk around. The Château is both secluded and full of life, this is a place to slow down and unwind. Provence is a very fertile, sun-drenched part of France, that’s why the grapes and so much produce is grown there.
The domain has been practicing the art of producing wine for over 3 centuries. They are true artisans producing over a million signature square bottles per year, red, white and rosé. There is something for everyone! They grow many grape varietals and with expert crop growers and blenders, very tasty wines are produced. The hotel offers wine tastings and guided tours of their cellars.
For dining there are a few options, each taking advantage of seasonal, local produce. Options include Le Jardin de Benjamin (a Michelin star restaurant), the Bistrot in the cellar (a bit more casual), the Table de Chef (you in the kitchen watching the Chefs) or test your skills with hands-on learning at the cooking school. Chef Benjamin Colomba and his team create all kinds of magic in their kitchen and we savoured quite the gamut, paired with the domain’s wines of course!
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