Across the world there are hundreds of magnificent castles. They give visitors a glimpse into the history of a place and are wonderful examples of the power wielded by wealthy families and rulers of long ago. These imposing fortresses are places of ancient treasures, legends and mystery and are fascinating places to visit. Although beautiful castles abound, here are 25 of my favourite castles to photograph:
1. De Haar Kasteel
There are few castles that can match the setting of De Haar Kasteel in The Netherlands. This beautiful castle was constructed in 1391, although it was torn down and rebuilt several times. The current castle is a result of restoration carried out in 1892. De Haar is surrounded by spectacular park like gardens and lakes.
2. Peles Castle
Nestled in the beautiful Carpathian Mountains is the Romanian castle Peles. It was built between 1873 and 1914 under King Carol I, and is a wonderful blend of Neo-Renaissance and Gothic Revival architecture. The castle has beautiful Baroque interiors and is now home to a fascinating museum.
3. Eileen Donan Castle
It’s one of the most iconic images of Scotland, it’s no surprise that visitors from all over the world come to photograph Eileen Donan Castle. The castle is built on a small tidal island in Loch Duich in the western Highlands of Scotland. The original castle was constructed in the mid-13th century, but much of it was destroyed during Scotland’s feudal history. The castle was carefully restored when Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island in 1911.
4. Bran Castle
Bran Castle is a Romanian National Monument located on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia. Although the castle wasn’t the inspiration for author Bram Stoker, it’s commonly known as “Dracula’s Castle”. The castle houses a museum that displays art and furniture collected by Queen Marie, who was Queen consort of Romania from 1914 to 1927.
5. Schwerin Castle
Schloss Schwerin is located on an island in the lake Schweringer See, in the picturesque German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Although it’s now a state parliament building and museum, it used to serve as the home of the dukes and grand dukes of Mecklenburg. You’ll get the best view of this impressive castle from a hot air balloon.
6. Hirosaki Castle
This beautiful hirayama-style castle was built in 1611 by the Tsugaru Clan in Japan’s Aomori Prefecture . Hirosaki Castle and the surrounding gardens is an important cultural property in Japan, and is one of the country’s most popular spots for seeing the cherry blossoms in spring. During winter the castle hosts the popular four day Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival.
7. Ballycarbery Castle
It may be nothing more than ruins today, but Ballycarbery Castle in County Kerry is still a beautiful place to photograph. The ruins you see today were originally constructed in the 16th century, and although much of the castle has been destroyed you’ll still find a chamber and staircase in good condition. The ivy covered walls add character to Ballycarbery, which is set on a garssy hill with beautiful views.
8. Malbork Castle
Malbork Castle, officially called Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork, was built in 13th century Prussia by Teutonic Knights, who named the castle Marienburg. When it was completed in 1406 it was the world’s largest castle made of bricks. Over centuries the castle has served as a monastery and the residence of Polish kings, and now houses a museum. In 1997 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
9. Hluboká Castle
Hluboká Castle is located in the South Bohemian town of Hluboká nad Vltavou and is a National Cultural Monument in the Czech Republic. The Gothic castle was built in the 13th century, although it was expanded during the Renaissance period, rebuilt into a Baroque castle in the 18th century, and renovated in the 19th century to reflect the romantic style Windsor Castle.
10. Neuschwanstein Castle
It’s no surprise that Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most photographed castles in the world. This magnificent nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival palace is perched on a rugged hill in idyllic Bavaria overlooking the beautiful village of Hohenschwangau. The castle was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.
11. Trakai Island Castle
Trakai Island Castle is located on Lake Galvė in Lithuania. The 14th century castle was the main residence of Grand Duke Kęstutis, and underwent major reconstruction after World War II. The enchanting island castle is now one of Lithuania’s most important tourist attractions.
12. Osaka Castle
The fascinating history and beautiful architecture has made Osaka Castle one of Japan’s most well-known castles. The original castle was built in 1583, and destroyed in 1868 during the Meiji Restoration. The castle has since been renovated several times, and is open to the public.
13. Château de Chambord
The French Renaissance architecture of Château de Chambord has made the castle one of the most recognized Chateaux in France. It’s located in Loire Valley and was constructed between 1519 and 1547. The impressive château is now a major tourist attraction in the Loir-et-Cher department.
14. Burg Hochosterwitz
Hochosterwitz Castle is an imposing landmark located on a dolomite hill in the Austrian region of Carinthia. The castle is surrounded by forests and offers magnificent views of the southern Austrian countryside. The privately owned castle is open to the public from Easter to the end of October each year.
15. Castillo de Butrón
The fairy-tale castle of Butrón is located in northern Spain, in Gatika and dates back to the Middle Ages. The abandoned castle was rebuilt in 1878 by Marqués de Cubas. Although Castillo de Butrón is not open to the public, visitors can still take a stroll through the park that surrounds the castle.
16. Leeds Castle
Located in on islands in a lake formed by the River Len in Kent, England you’ll find beautiful Leeds Castle. It was originally built in 1119 and now a popular tourist attraction. The castle grounds have a maze, a grotto, a golf course and a museum of dog collars.
17. Reichsburg Cochem
Cochem Castle, known as Reichsburg Cochem, is perched on a hilltop in Germany’s in Rhineland-Palatinate. Visitors can take tours of the castle complex and enjoy Falconry performances. For those who like mystery, there is even a ghost tour.
18. Kilkenny Castle
Kilkenny Castle was built in 1195 in Kilkenny, Ireland. The magnificent castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens and parklands and makes a great day trip for those staying in Dublin. You can join a guided tour, or wander through the beautifully furnished rooms at your own pace.
19. Kumbhalgarh Fort
It may not be classified as a castle, but photographers will find Kumbhalgarh is as capture-worthy as any European castle. This magnificent Indian fortress was built in Rajasthan in the 15th century by Rana Kumbha. The fifteen feet walls of the fort surround several temples as well as the palace itself.
20. Pena National Palace
The colourful Pena National Palace is perched on top of a hill overlooking the Portuguese town of Sintra. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a National Monument of Portugal, and is a wonderful example of a 19th-century Romanticism style castle. The palace is surrounded by Pena Park, a vast forested area.
21. Alcázar of Segovia
Originally built as a fortress in The Alcázar of Segovia (Segovia Castle) became a favourite residence of Spanish royalty. Visitors to the castle can explore some of the lavishly decorated rooms, as well as a chapel and an armoury.
22. Edinburgh Castle
You can’t visit Edinburgh without taking note of the imposing castle that overlooks the city. The iconic Scottish castle dominates the Edinburgh skyline and makes a great day out for the whole family. Edinburgh Castle is the country’s most visited tourist attraction and hosts festivals throughout the year like the famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
23. Bled Castle
There are few castles in the world that enjoy a view as beautiful as the one Bled Castle enjoys. The castle sits on a forested hill high above turquoise Lake Bled in Slovenia, overlooking Bled Island with its quaint church. Visitors can tour the Medieval castle museum, wine cellar and printing works before enjoying lunch at the castle restaurant.
24. Prague Castle
The perfect way to start a tour of Prague is to visit Prague Castle with its palaces, churches and towers. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has undergone several periods of renovations, so there is a wonderful mix of architectural styles, from 10th century Roman-style buildings to 14th century Gothic modifications.
25. Hawa Mahal Palace
Hawa Mahal is more of a palace than a castle, but this Indian palace is a royal masterpiece. The five-story palace façade is made of red and pink sandstone and has 953 small windows (jharokhas) intricately carved with latticework. Located in Jaipur, Hawa Mahal was completed in 1799 and is a popular tourist attraction.
You’ll find more holiday inspiration in HomeAway’s great selection of short break travel ideas.