You see them in movies and on TV, look up at them in awe as you cruise along a river, or even walk past them on your way to work, but few people actually take the time to visit one of the beautiful castles around the world.
Yes, there are a few famous castles that get significant numbers of visitors, but there are so many more that tell stories of the history of a region, the life of royalty, or the detail of war that deserve a look.
Chateau de Chambord, France
Chateau de Chambord is a beautiful display of French Renaissance architecture. The castle has 440 rooms, 283 fireplaces, 84 staircases and a decorative moat, making it one of the most iconic structures built by the French monarchy. King Francois I began the work of the grand chateau in the Loire Valley as a weekend hunting retreat in 1519. He stated that elements of the castle such as the double helix staircase were inspired directly by the Italian polymath. The castle hosts many events throughout the year for visitors to discover the Renaissance marvel history.
Donrobin Castle, Scotland
There are records of a castle in this area since the 15th century, and the oldest part of the current building dates to then, although there have been indications that the castle has been around since the early Middle Ages. Donrobin Castle has 189 rooms, making the mansion the largest castle in the Northern Highlands. It briefly operated as a private boarding school before the opening to the public.
Alcazar of Segovia, Spain
The first fortress built in this area was constructed by the Ancient Romans, before the Moors built a fortress here for the Almoravid dynasty which ruled this area of Spain until the 11th century. The fort has been believed to be made from wood, but it was mostly destroyed and replaced with the current stone construction – but the castle kept its original name.
Castel del Monte, Italy
There are many questions over why the Castle del Monte was built. Emperor Frederik II ordered the construction in 1240 but he chose an unusual area of Southern Italy which was known to be quiet. After the castle was built, the emperor soon abandoned it which left many questioning his true intentions. The layout consists of an octagonal base and towers at each corner, alongside eight trapezoidal rooms within it. The geometric layout is thought to symbolise Holy Grail and the relationship between humanity and God. It has become one of southern Italy’s most visited landmarks.
Bran Castle, Romania
Bran Castle is often surrounded by mystery as it has an infamous connection to Bram Stoker’s 1897 book, ‘Dracula’. The fortress was built between 1377 and 1388 but it wasn’t until the 15th century that Vlad the Impaler ruled over the area, and whispers began about his brutal torture methods – this is where the castle inspired Stoker’s tale. Once Transylvania became a part of Romania, the city’s government offered the castle to the reigning Queen Maria of Romania to show appreciation for unifying the two areas of Transylvania and Wallachia.