1. The Palace of Pena, Sintra (Lisbon) - Portugal
Located in the Sintra hills, the Park and Palace of Pena are the fruit of King Ferdinand II’s creative genius and the greatest expression of 19th-century romanticism in Portugal, denoting clear influences from the Manueline and Moorish styles of architecture. The palace was built in such a way as to be visible from any point in the park, which consists of a forest and luxuriant gardens with over five hundred different species of trees originating from the four corners of the earth.
2. The Alcazar Castle, Segovia - Spain
The Alcázar of Segovia (literally, Segovia Castle) is a stone fortification, located in the old city of Segovia, Spain. Rising out on a rocky crag above the confluence of the rivers Eresma and Clamores near the Guadarrama mountains, it is one of the most distinctive castle-palaces in Spain by virtue of its shape – like the bow of a ship. The Alcázar was originally built as a fortress but has served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery College and a military academy since then. The castle is one of the inspirations for Walt Disney's Cinderella Castle.
3. The Castle in Love with the Wind, Ravadinovo- Bulgaria
In Love with the Wind – the castle with the magnificent structures made of marble and metamorphosed limestone from the fairy tales of a talented architect and dreamer, Georgi Tumpalov. The only newly built castle in Europe.
The Castle In Love with the Wind – a fairy tale near the sea. The place where the Castle is built is a unique natural phenomenon. Here, the wind loves the sun and always when the sun shines, there is a wind. On this bare field near the village, Georgi Tumpalov, an architect and developer, decided to make it child’s dream come true – to build a castle that exists only in fairy tales. But a dream never comes alone. Tumpalov attracted to the modest village of Ravadinovo, standing 6 km from Sozopol, enormous crowds of visitors from all over the world. The castle was awarded the prize for the most attractive tourist site of the year by the Bulgarian Hotel and Restaurant Association. In 2013, Walt Disney used its natural décor to make its movie the Sleeping Beauty. In 2016 the castle won the first prize of the international competition "A’ Design Awards 2016” in the category: "A Hospitality, Recreation, Travel and Tourism Design“.
4. The Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria - Germany
Seven weeks after the death of King Ludwig II in 1886, Neuschwanstein was opened to the public. The shy king had built the castle in order to withdraw from public life – now vast numbers of people came to view his private refuge.
Today Neuschwanstein is one of the most popular of all the palaces and castles in Europe. Every year 1.4 million people visit "the castle of the fairy-tale king". In the summer around 6,000 visitors a day stream through rooms that were intended for a single inhabitant.
5. The Hohenzollern Castle, Baden-Württemberg - Germany
The first personal related reference of the Hohenzollern House dates back to 1061 ("Wezil et Burchardus de Zolorin"). First direct mention of the Castle complex ("Castro Zolre") was in 1267. Appearance, size and furnishing of the original Castle are unknown, but presumably it was in the first decade of the 11th century. At that time it must have been a vast and artistically valuable furnished complex. Contemporary sources praised it as "Crown of all Castles in Swabia" and as "the most fortified House in Germany". However in 1423, the Castle was completely destroyed.
6. Conwy Castle, Conwy - Wales
Conwy Castle is a medieval fortification in Conwy, on the north coast of Wales. It was built by Edward I, during his conquest of Wales, between 1283 and 1289.
UNESCO considers Conwy to be one of "the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe", and it is classed as a World Heritage site. The rectangular castle is built from local and imported stone and occupies a coastal ridge, originally overlooking an important crossing point over the River Conwy.
7. The Eltz Castle, Wierschem - Germany
Experience the Middle Ages and nature in its purest form!
8. The Chateau de Chambord, Chambord - France
1519. A palace rises up out of the swampy lowlands of the Sologne region, on the edge of a forest filled with wild boar. François I, the young king who had garnered glory in the Battle of Marignan, ordered its construction. The Château de Chambord was not intended to be a permanent residence; François I would in fact spend only a few weeks here, leaving it empty of furniture and people after his visits. It was an architectural jewel that the king liked to show to visiting crowned heads and ambassadors as a symbol of his power. Although the château was not completed under François I, it is one of the few buildings of that age that has survived without major modifications to its original design.
9. Eilean Donan Castle, Highlands - Scotland
Eilean Donan is for many people, the archetypal Scottish castle and is certainly one of the most photographed. Ruined in the early 18th century, it was restored to all its glory some two centuries later and is now the headquarters of the Clan McRae.
10. Windsor Castle, Windsor - England
Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and the Official Residence of Her Majesty The Queen. Its rich history spans almost 1000 years.
The Castle covers an area of about 5 hectares (13 acres) and contains :
- Magnificent State Apartments furnished with treasures from the Royal Collection;
- St George's Chapel (one of the most beautiful ecclesiastical buildings in England and the burial place of 10 monarchs);
- Queen Mary's Dolls House, a masterpiece in miniature;
- The Drawings Gallery featuring an exhibition.
11. Corvin Castle, Hunedoara - Romania
Corvin Castle was laid out in 1446, when construction began at the orders of John Hunyadi (Hungarian: Hunyadi János, Romanian: Iancu or Ioan de Hunedoara) who wanted to transform the former keep built by Charles I of Hungary. The castle was originally given to John Hunyadi's father, Voyk (Vajk), by Sigismund, king of Hungary, as severance in 1409. It was also in 1446 when John Hunyadi was elected as the regent-governor of the Kingdom of Hungary by the Diet.
12. Chenonceau Castle, Chenonceaux - France
Property of the Crown, then royal residence, Chenonceau Castle is an exceptional site not only because of its original design, the richness of its collections, its furniture and its decorations, but also because of its destiny, since it was loved, administrated and protected by women, who were all extraordinary and who, for the most part have marked history.
Today, its guests, who come from all over the world, discover the quality of its reception, thanks to a free visit or audio guide with iPod video (in 11 languages).
13. Hohenwerfen Castle, Werfen - Austria
The mighty castle of Hohenwerfen has towered over the 155 metre high craggy rock pillar above the Salzachtal valley for more than 900 years. The powerful fortifications were built at the same time as Hohensalzburg Fortress and are some of the best preserved late medieval defences and rooms on the continent. Over the centuries they have seen countless attacks and sieges, and several great rulers and lords, such as Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau, were held prisoner in the castle.
14. Bran Castle, Bran - Romania
Experience the history, the myth, the intrigue and the magic of this wonderful place and its Queen.
15. Lichtenstein Castle, Lichtenstein - Germany
Lichtenstein Castle, in German Schloss Lichtenstein, is a Gothic Revival castle built in the 1840s. It is situated on a cliff located near Honau on the Swabian Alb, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Today, the castle is still owned by the Dukes of Urach, but is open to visitors. The castle contains a large collection of historic weapons and armour.