No matter how much we (apparently) grow up, there’s always maybe a teensy weensy side of us left that is a sucker for fairytales. Of course, we now like them in their grown-up and mature versions, and we’re even a bit exhilarated in discovering a bit of Disney’s dark side, but we still enjoy the concept of a fairytale even in modified version, even if it’s in an extremely brutal and shocking medieval fantasy show like Game of Thrones. The same thing would apply to castles, or, better said, as a consequence of our soft side for fairytales, most of us also admire the beauty of a castle. There’s something just undeniably majestic and beautiful about them, even in a gothed-up version where they’re abandoned and dark and haunted.
If you agree with this so far, we’ve put together a list of the most spectacular castles in Europe, which you really need to visit if you get the chance. If there’s any doubt about this, perhaps it should be mentioned that putting together such a list is very, very hard, since there are so many beautiful castles to choose from and all offer a little something unique. Anyway, here it goes, in no particular order:
1. Mont Saint Michel (France)
This breath-taking castle is situated on a little island about 1 km off Normandy’s coast, with a population of only a few dozen people, but visited by more than 3 million people each year. I guess having an exquisite UNESCO-protected castle on your little piece of land really does help with the tourism. And taking a moment to look at this one, even in a picture, somehow makes you easily understand why so many people would travel there to see it for real.
2. Neuschwanstein Castle (Germany)
This highly poetic castle in the Bavaria region of Germany was conceived in the utmost poetic detail with the help of Wagner. It draws its inspiration from a variety of the artist’s works, as well as pieces and bits of old Germanic lore. It was built in the 19th century by King Ludwig II and opened to the public immediately after his mysterious death. The name of the castle translates as “New Swan Stone Castle” and the king who built it is now colloquially called “the swan king” in Germany precisely because of this masterpiece.
3. Bodiam Castle (England)
Once glance and you can see why this one deserves its spot into the list of prettiest castles in Europe. It was built in 1385 (isn’t it gorgeous and incredibly well-kept considering how much time has passed?) by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge. Especially because it’s in England, the impression it gives is straight out of a Knights of the Round Table’s tale.
4. Kilkenny Castle (Ireland)
Another incredibly old building (it was built in 1185), the Kilkenny Castle is today a major tourist attraction has played an important part in the region’s history. Originally commissioned as a better control point over a junction of commercial roads, it eventually influenced the way the vicinity was populated and the settlements that were built on the way to it.
5. Conwy Castle, Wales (England)
This one deserves a spot as well in the list of prettiest castles. Just look at those 8 towers and behold how solid, yet beautiful they look! It was built by Edward the I in his conquest of Wales in the 13th century and it was the most expensive building he ever commissioned. Even in that era of war and unrest, it was definitely worth every coin spent on it, especially since it stands to this day.
Don’t miss out on the chance to visit either of them if you can; well-preserved medieval beauties like these are a breath-taking rarity.