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Seven Most Beautiful Ancient Castles in Europe

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Photo: Seven Most Beautiful Ancient Castles in Europe. Source: Freepik
Photo: Seven Most Beautiful Ancient Castles in Europe. Source: Freepik

Discover the history of European territories, wars, regions, and nations, the history of the families that created and divided Europe, the history of kings, alliances, and vendettas. 

The Gaze presents a list of the seven most stunning European castles, which remain popular with tourists and film producers worldwide.

Croatia: Dubrovnik - The City-Castle of Dubrovnik


Dubrovnik is one of the oldest and most important cities in Croatia. Founded in the 7th century, it has historically been a major trade and cultural centre as well as a seaport. In the Middle Ages, Dubrovnik was the only city to rival Venice for dominance in the Adriatic. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Southern Europe, often referred to as the "Pearl of the Adriatic." Its most captivating feature is the stunning old town, encircled by fortress walls with a labyrinth of atmospheric narrow streets and ancient buildings with red-tiled roofs. Dubrovnik's historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It gained widespread fame thanks to the iconic series "Game of Thrones," where it was depicted as King’s Landing.


Ukraine: Mukachevo - Palanok Castle


Palanok Castle in the city of Mukachevo, Ukraine, in the Zakarpattia region, is a former residence of the Transylvanian Principality and has an incredibly rich history. It was the site of international treaties, peace agreements, and popular uprisings. Built between the 9th and 14th centuries, the castle is a true architectural and historical monument. It has survived numerous owners and residents, dozens of assaults and sieges, and remains in nearly perfect condition today. The castle is particularly famous for two women—Sophia Báthory and Ilona Zrínyi—mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, who skilfully managed the castle and its affairs while maintaining a fierce rivalry.


France: Normandy - Mont Saint-Michel


Mont Saint-Michel is a small rocky island converted into a fortress island on the northwestern coast of France. The city on the island has existed since 709 AD and currently has a few dozen residents. In reality, it is an abbey rather than a castle. Starting with a chapel, the construction gradually expanded into an entire fortress island. Despite enduring numerous attacks and fires throughout its heroic history, the abbey has partially survived to the present day. Today, it is the second most popular site in France after Paris. UNESCO has listed Mont Saint-Michel as a World Heritage Site.


Bulgaria: Ravadinovo - The Castle in Love with the Wind


The Castle in Love with the Wind is the only newly built castle in Europe. Its geographic location features unique natural phenomena, where the wind loves the sun, and whenever the sun shines, the wind blows. On this bare field near the village, architect, and builder Georgi Tumpalov decided to fulfil his childhood dream of building a castle that exists only in fairy tales. The Bulgarian Association of Hotels and Restaurants awarded the castle the prize for the most attractive tourist site of the year. In 2013, Walt Disney used its natural decor to film "Sleeping Beauty." In 2016, the castle won the first prize in the international "A' Design Awards 2016" in the category: "Hospitality, Recreation, Travel, and Tourism Design."


Romania: Hunedoara - Corvin Castle

The most striking Gothic-style castle in Romania, Corvin Castle, was founded in 1446 and built by the Anjou family on the site of a former Roman camp. The castle served as a fortress until the mid-14th century when it became the residence of the Voivode of Transylvania, John Hunyadi. Hunyadi modernized the fortress, transforming it into a stunning Transylvanian castle. The well-preserved building includes a luxurious Knight’s Hall, a Council Room, a chapel, an impressive drawbridge, high buttresses, inner courtyards, and over 50 rooms adorned with medieval art and furniture.


Spain: Segovia - Alcázar of Segovia

The Alcázar of Segovia (literally "Castle of Segovia") is a stone fortress located in the old city of Segovia, Spain. It rises on a steep cliff above the confluence of the Eresma and Clamores rivers near the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains and is one of the most distinctive palace-castles in Spain due to its ship-like shape. Initially built as a fortress, the Alcázar has since served as a royal palace, a state prison, the Royal Artillery College, and a military academy. The castle is one of the inspirations for Walt Disney’s "Cinderella Castle."


Germany: Bavaria - Neuschwanstein Castle


In 1886, seven weeks after the death of King Ludwig II, Neuschwanstein Castle was opened to the public. The shy king built the castle to retreat from public life, but now a vast number of people come to see his private refuge. Today, Neuschwanstein is one of the most popular palaces and castles in Europe. Each year, 1.4 million people visit the "fairy-tale king’s" castle. In summer, nearly 6,000 visitors pass through the rooms daily, which were once intended for just one inhabitant.

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