Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Europe's Most Beautiful Castles

There is something unusual about visiting a castle. Perhaps it brings out the inner child and day dreams of royalty and knights in shining armor. Perhaps it is the exquisite craftsmanship that has lasted for so many hundreds of years. Perhaps it is the immaculate settings on which you find them. Whatever the case is, if you are on a quest to visit a castle during your Europe tours, here are some that you cannot miss.

Neuschwanstein castle during my third visit last January 2011.

Neuschwanstein Castle- Bavaria, Germany

This is considered to be the most photographed building in Germany. It is also the most lavishly romantic castle in the German-speaking world. The fairytale castle of King Ludwig II of Bavaria was used as a retreat and homage to Richard Wagner. It was the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle. Neuschwanstein Castle is a 19th-century Gothic Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau. Its construction begun in 1869 and was said to be completed in 1892. It was actually unfinished because of King Ludwig's II death.

You will be amazed by the architecture of this castle. Its antique furniture and fixtures inside especially the ones in the bedroom of King Ludwig are truly beautiful. I wish I can take pictures of it but it is not allowed. This is so far the most beautiful castle I visited in Germany.

Mont Saint-Michel – Normandy, France

Mont Saint-Michel sits atop a small island in the Normandy region of France. This magnificent structure was built, at first, as an abbey in 708. It became a Norman stronghold in the 900’s and has played a significant role in the lives of people such as William the Conqueror.

Lincoln Castle – Lincoln, England

Lincoln Castle was constructed by William the Conqueror in the 11th century on top of an old Roman fort. The strategic importance of this place was the main reason for its construction. Today, Lincoln Castle is one of the best preserved castles in England. It is a beautifully constructed building that has served many purposes in its history. Today, open as a museum, you can see one of the original Magna Carta documents signed by King John.

Chateau de Chambord – Loire, France

This stunning castle dates back to the year 1519 when construction began. The building was completed in 1547. King Francois I had the chateau constructed as a place to spend his “off” time. There are 440 rooms in the structure and nearly the same amount of fireplaces. In total, there are 84 staircases throughout the structure and each floor contains vaulted ceiling hallways that are in the shape of a cross. While the building is not the standard fort type castle, it marks the period when castles became a luxury and not a stronghold.

Leeds Castle – Kent, England

With nearly a thousand year history, Leeds Castle is a must-see. This fortress castle was constructed in 1119 as was occupied as a residence until 1974. The castle is complete with a moat and wonderful stone architecture. It is now available to hire as a castle venue and celebrities have been known to marry there. The castle is also available as venue for conferences, concerts and use in cinema, TV and radio. The grounds are beautiful and a garden maze can be experienced when visiting.

Segovia Castle (Alcazar Segovia) – Segovia, Spain

Segovia Castle, as it stands today, was built before 1120. On this same spot an Arab fort stood as well as a Roman stronghold. This impressive castle, built high above the city, is of typical medieval styling. It is one of the largest attractions in the area.


Ian said...

I think visits to Europe is not complete without seeing the castles. Its like stepping inside history and having a feel of living like the royalties and monarchs of Europe.


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