Europe Travel Blog› entry 19 of 19 › view all entries
No trip to Europe is complete without a visit to some Castles. Some are ruins, some are stunningly restored, some are not as old as you think they are. But there is something romatic about a castle. Maybe one day I'll get married in one! Her are my favorite castles and palaces.
1) Poenari Castle, Wallachia, Romania- The REAL Dracula Castle. This dramatic castle ruin sits atop a ridge in Wallachia overlooking a river into Transylvania. It is completely off the beaten track and quite a hike to get to. But you can't beat the dramatic views and the tragic story of Vlad Tepes Dracula's wife throwing herself into the river to avoid capture by invaders. He escaped.
2) Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria- Vienna is a city of palaces, but none more spectacular than this one. This palace was the Habsburg's answer to Versailles. While not nearly as large, it's influence is everywhere. Beautiful gardens and a dramaic Gloriette compliment the grandeur of this place.
3) Neuschwanstein Castle, Fussen, Germany- The Fairest castle of them all. This is the Castle that Disney World's iconic Fairy Tale Castle is modeled after. But it's a 19th Century fabrication. Crazy Bavarian King Ludwig spared no expense in creating this fantasy in the beautiful Bavarian Alps, which ultimately led to his undoing.
4) Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland- This castle ruin guards Loch Ness. Beautiful setting and who can beat a castle with a mote that has its own legendary sea monster?
5) Alcazar, Seville, Spain- The Alcazar is a stunning Moorish Royal Palace in the heart of Seville, and a nice compliment to Seville's magnificent and huge Moorish style Gothic cathedral. The archiecture is a testamant to when the Moors were among the most advanced societies in the world. The intricate tile and stone work, the cool spaces in a super hot city, the beautiful gardens, are all amazing.
6) Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal- In a town full of palaces and castles, this one stands out for its colorful and whimsical blend of very different styles of architecture. It sits on a hilltop affording great views of the surrounding area and other castles, and the tilework is exquisite.
7) Edinburgh Castle, Edinbugh, Scotland- This is what I picture a good old-fashioned medieval Game of Thrones castle to look like, and the surrounding old town also fits the part. Great views over this lovely city and the surrounding dramatic geography.
8) Gravensteen, Ghent, Belgium- This foreboding castle located in the heart of the city is meant to intimidate, and it succeds. The large torture chamber doesn't hurt.
9) Prague Castle Complex, Prague, Czechia- This is the largest ancient castle in the world. It is not only a fortress and residence but numerous churches, cathedral, residences and shops. It is like a city district. Not surprisingly it is as stunning as the surrounding capital itself, which is easily viewed from here. The gothic Cathedral is what you would expect and King Wenceslas' crown jewels can occasionally be viewed here.
10) Diocletian's Palace, Split, Croatia- A fascinating study in urban development. This was the largest palace of its time. After the fall of Rome, people in the area fled into it for protection. It slowly developed into a medieval neighborhood, and then center of the emerging city of Split. Split's main square is actually a former courtyard in the palace! The meshing of classical, medieval, Venetian, and modern is truly unique. Underground one can still see the original vaults of the huge palace.