February 21, 2024 | Kaddy Gibson

The World’s Most Enchanting Castles


The World’s Most Enchanting Castles

From the palaces with legendary halls that inspire fantastical stories to those who’ve witnessed great moments in history, the world is full of incredible castles. Each one is a wonder, but some stand a cut above the rest. 

Here are 20 of the most enchanting castles in the world.

enchanting castles

Château de Chenonceau—Chenonceaux, France

With its perfect gardens, walking onto the grounds of Château de Chenonceau feels like stepping into a fairy tale

The castle was originally built in the 11th century, but the its most famous feature, the arched bridge, wasn’t built until the 16th century. 

Diane de Poitiers, a mistress of Henry II, commissioned the construction of the bridge and it’s been popular among visitors ever since.

Château de Chenonceau, Chenonceaux, FranceDennis Jarvis, Flickr

Château de Chenonceau—Chenonceaux, France (cont’d)

The castle was also the favorite residence of Henry II’s queen, Catherine de’ Medici. 

It’s said that she often hosted parties at Château de Chenonceau, including the first fireworks display in France.

Chateau de Chenonceau interiorsaiko3p, Shutterstock

Bran Castle—Bran, Romania

This imposing castle gained infamy for its connection to Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Situated on a mountaintop between Transylvania and Wallachia, the castle was built in 1377 and was home of the notorious Vlad the Impaler.

Bran Castle, Transylvaniaecstk22, Shutterstock

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Bran Castle—Bran, Romania (cont’d)

When Transylvania became part of Romania, the castle was given to Queen Maria of Romania, and it was used a royal home until 1947. 

In 1993, the castle was reopened to the public as a museum.

Bran, Romania, Bran CastleGary Todd , Wikimedia Commons

Matsumoto Castle—Matsumoto, Japan

With its jet-black walls and roofs, Matsumoto Castle is often called the “Crow Castle”. 

Construction on the palace first started in 1504, when the ruling Ogasawara clan built it to ward off invaders.

Matsumoto Castle663highland, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Matsumoto Castle—Matsumoto, Japan (cont’d)

In 1872, the castle was almost demolished as developers wanted the land to build housing complexes. 

The locals protested the demolition, and the castle is now one of Japan’s national treasures. It’s also one of the last remaining daimyo castles in the country.

Matsumoto Castle Old ImageUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Alhambra—Granada, Spain

This impressive fortress is perched high above the city of Granada. Construction on The Alhambra first began in 1238, during the Islamic Naṣrid dynasty

Over the years, the palace grew to include a military base, a wing for the royal family, and a wing for members of the royal court.

Alhambra castleTaiga, Shutterstock

Alhambra—Granada, Spain (cont’d)

In 1527, Charles V decided to build his palace inside the Alhambra, to signify Christian victory over Islam. 

He built a renaissance-style palace at the site, though much of Alhambra’s original Moorish architecture can still be seen by visitors today.

Alhambra—Granada, SpainJim Gordon, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Edinburgh Castle—Edinburgh, Scotland

Archeological evidence suggests that people have lived at the site of Edinburgh Castle since the Iron Age

The castle was first used by royalty in the 12th century, when King David I built St. Margaret’s Chapel to honor his mother.

Edinburgh CastleColin Dewar, Shutterstock

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Edinburgh Castle—Edinburgh, Scotland (cont’d)

Throughout the years, Edinburgh Castle has been both used as both a royal residence and a military fortress. 

Now, it is one of Scotland’s best tourist destinations. Guests can tour the grounds and see amazing artifacts from the Scottish monarchy, like the Stone of Destiny.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotlandgodrick, Shutterstock

Peleș Castle—Sinaia, Romania

This renaissance-style royal summer house was commissioned by King Carol I in the 1860s. 

It features 160 rooms, each with their own unique theme.

Peleș Castle SinaiaTiberiuSahlean, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Peleș Castle—Sinaia, Romania (cont’d)

Peleș Castle was the favored residence of the royal family, but the castle was abandoned when Romania fell to the Communists. 

In 1989, the castle was reopened and made into a museum.

Peleș Castle, Sinaia, RomaniaCristi Savin, Shutterstock

Chapultepec Castle—Mexico City, Mexico

Chapultepec Castle was built in 1785 to be the home for the new commander of what was once New Spain. 

After the Mexican War of Independence, it was used a military base, before returning to its prior use a presidential home.

Chapultepec castleNoradoa, Shutterstock

Chapultepec Castle—Mexico City, Mexico (cont’d)

For many years, Chapultepec Castle was the home of Mexico’s leaders

In 1934, President Lázaro Cárdenas broke the tradition of living at the castle, and turned the palace into a museum.

Chapultepec Castledowraik, Shutterstock

Red Fort—Delhi, India

When Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan moved his capital to Delhi, he started construction on Red Fort. 

Built from red sandstone, the fort features a combination of traditional Mughal architecture with Hindu, Persian, and Timurid designs.

Red FortMahesh Bhanupanth, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

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Red Fort—Delhi, India (cont’d)

When India gained independence from Britain, Red Fort was where the first Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, delivered his iconic “Tryst with Destiny” speech. 

This tradition has continued and every year on Independence Day, the prime minister makes a speech from atop the walls of Red Fort.

Nehru addresses the nation from Red FortUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Qaitbay Fort—Alexandria, Egypt

In 1477, Sultan Al-Ashraf Qaitbay learned that Ottoman troops were approaching the city of Alexandria. 

The sultan quickly constructed Qaitbay Fort using the ruins of the legendary Pharos Lighthouse.

Qaitbay FortD-Stanley, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Qaitbay Fort—Alexandria, Egypt (cont’d)

While the Ottomans did conquer Egypt, Qaitbay Fort was still used as a military base until the British destroyed much of it in 1882. 

Since then, the Egyptian government has rebuilt most of the fort and made it into a maritime museum.

Citadel of Qaitbay, Alexandria, EgyptAlexAnton, Shutterstock

Bojnice Castle—Bojnice, Slovakia

From historical records, it seems like this castle began as a wooden fort in 1113. 

By the 16th century, stone had replaced the wood and took the form of the Gothic castle that stills stands today.

Bojnice CastleQasinka, Wikimedia Commons

Bojnice Castle—Bojnice, Slovakia (cont’d)

Bojnice Castle has captivated the hearts of tourists for its fairy tale aesthetics, like enchanting tapestries and antique decorations. 

It’s now one of the most visited castles in all of Europe.

Castle Bojnice sunsetHike The World, Shutterstock

Neuschwanstein Castle—Schwangau, Germany

King Ludwig II lost most of his power when Prussia won the Austro-Prussian War, but he still wanted a palace to retreat to. 

So, the king commissioned the construction of Neuschwanstein Castle in 1868. 

Ludwig wanted the castle to be a warm place for guests to visit, with impeccable views of the surrounding Tyrol mountains.

Neuschwanstein CastleImpracticaljokeman, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

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Neuschwanstein Castle—Schwangau, Germany (cont’d)

Unfortunately, King Ludwig never saw the final version of the castle. 

Known as the “castle of the fairy-tale king”, Neuschwanstein opened in 1886 and has been one of the most popular castles in Europe ever since.

Neuschwanstein castleBoris Stroujko, Shutterstock

Fasil Ghebbi—Gondar, Ethiopia

Fasil Ghebbi was commissioned in 1636, when Emperor Fasilides made Gondar the new capital of his empire. 

Before this, Ethiopian emperors lived like nomads, taking shelter and food from locals that they stayed with. 

The construction of Fasil Ghebbi marked a change to a more sedentary lifestyle for Ethiopian rulers.

Fasil GhebbiFrancesco Bandarin, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Fasil Ghebbi—Gondar, Ethiopia (cont’d)

Each emperor after Fasilides added to the castle, and it was Fasilides grandson, Iyasu the Great who added the ivory sculptures and jeweled ceilings that are often mentioned in historical records.

Over the years, Fasil Ghebbi has withstood earthquakes and bombings during WWII. 

After rebuilding the palace to its former glory, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

Fasil Ghebbi—Gondar, EthiopiaRudiErnst, Shutterstock

Castel del Monte—Andria, Italy

We still don’t know why, but Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II commissioned the construction of Castel del Monte in 1240. 

It stands in a remote area that’s hard to defend and was abandoned by the emperor soon after its completion.

Castel del MonteArian Zwegers, Flickr

Castel del Monte—Andria, Italy (cont’d)

Despite being mostly unused, the castle is famous for being an incredible example of medieval architecture. 

It has a unique octagonal layout with towers at each corner featuring trapezoidal rooms. 

Many think the design of the castle is symbolic reference to the Holy Grail and God’s relationship with humanity.

Castel del Monte—Andria, ItalyAlexandre.ROSA, Shutterstock

Himeji Castle—Himeji, Japan

With its early 17th-century Japanese architecture and white walls, Himeji is often said to look like a flying bird and has been called “White Heron Castle”. 

The castle was built in 1346 to hold off enemy shoguns and has 83 buildings with state-of-the-art defenses. But it was never actually used in combat.

Himeji Castle, Himeji, JapanOren Rozen, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Himeji Castle—Himeji, Japan (cont’d)

Instead, Himeji has spent most of its time as a home for the Japanese imperial family. 

In 1931, the castle was named a national treasure, and tourists can now take guided tours of its magnificent halls and tranquil cherry blossom garden.

Himeji Castle in springSean Pavone, Shutterstock

Nakhal Fort—Nakhal, Oman

Nakhal Fort immediately catches the eye for its unusual shape. Predating the Islamic era, the castle was originally built around a large boulder near the base of Mount Nakhal. 

Initially, the fort was built to protect trade routes, but over time, a mosque, reception halls, and residential quarters were added to the complex.

Nakhal FortAndries Oudshoorn, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Nakhal Fort—Nakhal, Oman (cont’d)

Nowadays, Nakhal Fort stands as a museum, where travelers can see incredible artifacts. 

Fridays are usually the most fun days to visit, since that’s when the fort is home to a weekly market with lots of friendly goats waiting to greet people.

Nakhal fortBin Hamed, Shutterstock

Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, Denmark

Frederiksborg Castle was built by King Christian IV to symbolize his power as the king of both Denmark and Norway. 

For 100 years, it was home to the royal family, until a fire destroyed much of the castle in 1859.

Frederiksborg CastleBernard Blanc, Flickr

Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, Denmark (cont’d)

Only the audience chamber and chapel survived the fire, but after a nationwide fundraiser, the castle was rebuilt. The castle reopened in 1978 as the Museum of National History. 

The now world-famous museum is home to a magnificent collection of historical portraits and paintings of the castle’s old interiors.

Frederiksborg Castle In Hillerød, DenmarkJonLi, Shutterstock

Château de Chambord—Chambord, France

Built in 1519 as a hunting lodge for King François I, this magnificent château has over 400 rooms, 280 fireplaces, 80 staircases, and even a decorative moat. 

The king was a fan of Leonardo da Vinci work, and certain aspects of the castle, like its double helix staircase, where inspired by the artist.

Château de Chambord—Chambord, FranceElementerre, CC BY-SA 3.0 , Wikimedia Commons

Château de Chambord—Chambord, France (cont’d)

In the end, King François thought the palace was too luxurious and he only stayed there a few times during his reign. 

Now the château hosts different events throughout the year, so tourists can explore these magnificent halls and learn more about the history of the building.

Château de Chambord—Chambord, FranceCalips assumed, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Pena National Palace—Sintra, Portugal

Pena National Palace was once the summer home of King Ferdinand II. 

The design of the castle was show influences of European and Middle Eastern Baroque architecture, and is a grand example of Portuguese Romanticism.

Pena National Palace—Sintra, PortugalMike van Schoonderwalt, Pexels

Pena National Palace—Sintra, Portugal (cont’d)

Pena National Palace was the favorite home of the royal family until the monarchy was overthrown in 1910. 

The castle was restored later in the 20th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pena National PalaceINTERPIXELS, Shutterstock

Vianden Castle—Vianden, Luxembourg

Construction on Vianden Castle began in the 11th century and didn’t end until the 14th century. 

It was built over an ancient Roman watchtower and was the royal home of the count of Vianden until the early 15th century.

Vianden CastleTimeTravelRome, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Vianden Castle—Vianden, Luxembourg (cont’d)

The castle was eventually abandoned and remained in a state of disrepair until 1977. That’s when the state took control of the grounds and began restoring the palace to its former glory.

 Now it’s a national treasure that enjoyed by tourist from all over the world.

Vianden Castle—Vianden, LuxembourgTroy Wegman, Shutterstock

Schwerin Castle—Schwerin, Germany

While archaeological evidence shows remnants of a fort dating back to 942, Schwerin Castle didn’t become the enchanting structure that we know today until 1847. 

That’s when Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II ordered the renovation of the palace.

Schwerin Castle—Schwerin, GermanyUbjsP, Shutterstock

Schwerin Castle—Schwerin, Germany (cont’d)

The Grand Duke wanted the castle to mix modern and historical architecture and included features like Carrara marble trim and gilded iron doors

The palace also features a magnificent throne room and an ancestral portrait gallery. Visitors can explore these as well as the castle gardens and on-site restaurant.

Schwerin Castle—Schwerin, GermanyRalf Gosch, Shutterstock


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