Fairytale Castles Fit for Royalty From Around the World

Have you ever dreamed of living in a castle? For a handful of people in history, that dream was a reality. Let's explore some of the oldest, most magnificent castles from around the world!

Have you ever imagined yourself in a faraway land as a princess or prince? While living in an actual castle might not always be as glamorous as we like to think–apparently, they tend to be drafty and damp–the romance of these places lives on.

No matter your personal style, there’s a castle out there for you! There are castles carved on the outside of a mountain, one that happens to sit in the middle of its own island, and even one that’s been turned into a prison. This castle list is endless, and so are your opportunities for visiting these breathtaking places!

Grab your passport and get ready for a tour of a lifetime. Crowns are optional but encouraged.

Conwy Castle – Wales, United Kingdom

Conwy Castle

Visiting Conwy Castle is like stepping back in time to the age of Edward I of England. He built this Welsh fortress in just four years, between 1283 and 1287.

Visitors today can walk the battlements of the castle and visit royal chambers where Edward and his successors once slept. The site is exceptionally well-preserved, although restoration work was needed to the original spiral staircases to make them safe for the throngs of tourists who visit this World Heritage Site each year.

Spiš Castle – Slovakia

Spis Castle

Another World Heritage Site that’s well worth visiting, Spiš Castle is one of the largest European castles, especially if you include the walled yards that spill out across the mountaintop.

Built in the 12th century–making it a hundred years older than Conwy Castle–it was once the property of the Kingdom of Hungary. It later passed into the hands of a string of wealthy families before becoming state property in 1945.

Bamburgh Castle – England

Bamburgh Castle

Is this a real place or an illustration of the perfect medieval castle?! This spectacular 11th-century castle was built on the site of a series of much older forts. Constructed around a core of an older Norman structure, Bamburgh Castle withstood sieges and revolts over the centuries.

One thing it couldn’t withstand was neglect, however. It was only thanks to industrialist William Armstrong, who purchased the castle in 1894, that it was restored to its former glory. The castle is now a thriving tourist attraction and remains in the hands of the Armstrongs.

Bran Castle – Transylvania

Bran Castle

When you think of Transylvania, one figure comes to mind: Vlad Tepes, AKA Dracula. Although Bran Castle is located near Wallachia, the region where Vlad Tepes lived, it has only the thinnest link to the infamous prince. Bran Castle is promoted as being the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s great work, but even that seems to be an invention.

What we know for sure is that this castle is a well-preserved example of early 15th-century architecture.

Matsumoto Castle – Japan

Matsumoto Castle

You didn’t think that castles were limited to Europe, did you? Matsumoto Castle, nicknamed Crow Castle for its color, is a late 16th-century wood and stone building. As one of only twelve tenshu, or early castle complexes, remaining in Japan, it is a wonder of both artistry and careful preservation.

Thankfully, Matsumoto Castle was spared from destruction during the Meiji government’s purge of feudal relics, as well as the effects of neglect in the late 19th century. A massive preservation effort kicked off at the turn of the last century, reconstructing all that had been lost when the short-sighted government sold off portions of the site for development.

Neuschwanstein Castle – Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle

The quintessential fairytale castle is Neuschwanstein (noy-shvahn-stine), the 19th-century dream of a mad king. Located in picturesque Bavaria, King Ludwig II decided to build the castle after becoming obsessed with the music of Richard Wagner. It was the equivalent of getting really into the show Outlander and deciding to build your own Scottish castle in your backyard.

The construction drove Ludwig deep into debt, and the castle was never fully completed. Despite this, the king lived there until his death in 1886. Miraculously, it also survived World War II unscathed. The Nazis used the castle to store the hoards of artwork and other treasures they had confiscated, and they considered blowing up the castle rather than letting the Allies seize control of it at the end of the war.

Windsor Castle – England

Windsor Castle

It might not be the prettiest or oldest castle, but it’s one of the most famous royal residences ever. Windsor is the ancestral home of the British monarchy. The current dynasty styled themselves as the House of Windsor, abandoning the too-Germanic “Saxe-Coburg and Gotha” during World War I.

Windsor Castle holds the honor of being the longest-occupied royal residence in Europe, having been the home of kings and queens since Henry I. One of the most famous buildings on the castle grounds is St. George’s Chapel, where Harry and Meghan were married. Prince Philip spent his final months at Windsor Castle, and Queen Elizabeth still resides there most weekends.

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