The castles of Europe have borne witness to the rise and fall of great kings and even greater wars. Today, they stand as memorabilia of the monarchs they sheltered and many famous historical events they witnessed. And there is never a shortage of visitors who swarm the medieval castles in Europe to marvel at the aged yet timeless resilience.
From the great stone structures of Britain to the sophisticated architecture of Germany, each medieval castle has a unique story to tell. Indeed, walking through their courtyards and throne rooms is also a great way to learn more about the rich roots of each European nation.
If you’re a history buff, backpacking through the old medieval castles in Europe is the perfect getaway. And lucky for you, we’ve come up with a list of the most famous castles in and around the continent. So get ready to brush up on your historical facts as we take you through them now.
Here are the 10 Most Popular Medieval Castles in Europe:
To start off our list, we have Edinburgh Castle which is perhaps one of the most famous medieval castles in Europe. It has a vast history serving as a royal residence, military garrison, fortress and even a prison of war. So it’s no surprise that there are so many exciting tales linked to this Scottish castle.
Moreover, it is truly a thrill to walk the path that many great kings, queens, and soldiers once trod on. Thanks to its strategic location, Edinburg Castle held the huge military potential to defend the army. Whether we’re talking about battles, victories or sieges, it has seen it all. In fact, part of the castle is still used for military service.
But overall, it is now a world-famous attraction that brings in hundreds of visitors daily. Today, you can easily book tickets on their website to get a glimpse of the magnificent Edinburgh Castle. There is a large selection of activities you can take part in to get to know the castle’s history better. This includes tours, afternoon tea experiences and more.
Neuschwanstein Castle is the marvelous creation of the Bavarian King Louis II. You will find it standing on a rock ledge in the Bavarian alps with its construction starting in 1868. Although he could not fully complete it, its modern take on medieval-style castles is still a sight to behold. Later on, it become open to the public as a museum sometime after King Louis II passed away.
Neuschwanstein Castle is famous for embodying the idea of a paradox. For starters, it was built during an era when castles were not needed as strongholds anymore. Moreover, King Louis II was very adamant about equipping the castle with the latest technologies and comforts of its time. Unlike most old medieval castles in Europe, Neuschwanstein had running water, telephone lines and an elevator.
We can’t forget about the flush toilets, hot water and forced-air central heating system either. You can only get access to select parts of the castle through a guided tour. Lucky for you, it is quite easy to get your hands on the tickets through the given website or at the Ticket Center Hohenshwangau.
The site where Peña Palace stands today dates back to the 12th century and used to be a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Peña. After the great Lisbon earthquake, the Portuguese King, Ferdinand II decided to acquire and redevelop the monastery. Thanks to this decision, he was able to build what we know today as the Palace of Peña.
After the King’s Death, the castle was passed through a long line of nobility before the Portuguese State purchased it. Later, they classified the Palace of Peña as a national monument and turned it into a stunning museum. With such an interesting history behind it, it is undoubtedly a great contender for the most popular medieval palaces in Europe.
Besides that, you cannot miss out on exploring the beautiful Peña Park surrounding the castle. It is a vast forested area showcasing exotic trees, lakes, pavilions, secret paths and ponds. So head over to their official website to check out the large selection of tickets and tours available.
“Also Check: 15 Most Cheapest Places to Fly into Europe“
Next on our list is the beautiful Stirling Castle, another Scottish favourite standing near the river Forth. It was also considered the key to Scotland thanks to its strategic location at the meeting point between Lowlands and Highlands. The origins of Stirling Castle are vast and it served as a beloved royal residence and stronghold for centuries.
Moreover, it was also the childhood home of some prominent historical figures like Mary Queen of Scots and James VI. Today, the main areas of Stirling Castle have undergone restoration to Go back to their original glory. In fact, it has become such a global sensation that visitors from all over the world come to admire the castle.
If you’re looking for remarkable old medieval castles in Europe that are brimming with stories, this one should definitely be on your list. The best thing is that there are now a few cafés and gift shops open on-site so that you can take a bit of Stirling Castle back home. Tickets to tours and all kinds of events are available in great detail on their official website.
For all the hopeless romantics out there, we’ve got just the right castle for you too. Miramare Castle was the home of Archduke Maximilian of Habsburg, who fell in love with the beautiful bay view. The castle is surrounded by a massive park full of exotic trees that the Archduke himself collected on his expeditions across the globe.
Maximilian spent four years here with his beloved wife Charlotte. Due to his untimely execution, legend says that she still roams the park calling out his name. Today, Miramare Castle stands as the perfect example of aristocratic 19th-century residences with its original furnishings.
This majestic white castle and the tragic tale of the young imperial couple never fail to enthrall visitors from all over the world. So much so that it is one of the most visited medieval castles in Europe. It is open to the public as a museum and you can book your tickets on their official website to visit. Spend a day admiring the castle’s interiors and marveling at the beautiful green park outside.
Český Krumlov is perhaps one of the most famous old medieval castles in Europe to catch our attention. This beautiful castle sits on a rocky area by the river Vltava. It is also better known as the residence of aristocrats in a remote corner of South Bohemia. Moreover, Český Krumlov Castle is an important monument in Central Europe, thanks to its stunning architecture.
To this day, the original layout of the castle exists besides the interior installations and material structure. To get the best fairytale experience, you cannot miss out on their Renaissance rooms or the Baroque apartment within the castle. In addition, UNESCO has listed this architectural marvel as a World Heritage Site since 1992.
But that’s not all. In fact, this castle is also home to the famous Baroque Chateau Theatre. It happens to be one of the two only well-preserved theatres in all of Europe. And we can’t forget about the gorgeous chateau gardens surrounding the castle either. So sign yourself up for a tour of Český Krumlov Castle to catch a glimpse of the beauty it holds.
The Chillon Castle is brimming with a rich history for different eras of nobility and aristocracy. This includes those of the Savoy family, the Bernese bailiffs and the Canton of Vaud. Besides that, Chillon Castle is incredibly serene and takes on the oval shape of the island on which it stands. Its name also came from the rock, with “chillon” meaning “rocky platform” in an ancient language.
It dates back to the 12th century and you can even catch a glimpse of it from the promenade of Montreux. Moreover, the origin of Chillon Castle is just as interesting as its inhabitants. Many excavations showed that this castle has been housing inhabitants since the Bronze Age.
Located on the banks of Lake Geneva, this castle also happens to be among Switzerland’s most visited attractions. So it’s no surprise that Chillon Castle is a strong contender for popular medieval castles in Europe. Until today, it has served as a buzzing tourist spot, winery, hospital, prison, warehouse and royal residence.
Conwy Castle is one of those old medieval castles in Europe that look like something straight out of a Disney fairytale. Being incredibly well-preserved, this Welsh castle stands tall and proud even after 700 years. Moreover, you can now explore more of the castle thanks to the many restoration projects that have happened so far.
The best thing is that time seems to rewind as soon as you step into Conwy Castle. In fact, it is famous for having the most intact set of royal medieval apartments in Wales. Additionally, the high curtain wall and eight mighty towers still present an impressive image as they did a few hundred years ago.
As a history buff, castle enthusiast or simply a curious visitor, there’s no better castle to visit than Conwy. So book your admissions ticket online or on arrival and get ready to soak in all that rich history. There’s even a nice gift shop where you can pick out souvenirs for you or your loved ones to take back home.
Next on our list of popular medieval castles in Europe is the famous German Hohenzollern Castle. King Frederick William IV of Prussia commissioned a top architect from Berlin to revive a ruined castle. And that’s how the beautiful Hohenzollern Castle came into existence. For years, it served as the ancestral seat of the Prussian King and Princes of Hohenzollern.
While the castle has over 140 rooms, there are several popular attractions that you cannot miss out on. The highlights include the amazing murals in the library, the King’s bed chamber, the family tree room and the Blue Salon. Moreover, the interiors with their gilded ceilings, beautiful floorings and exquisite portraits are to die for.
To visit, simply book your tickets on-site or on the official website and turn up on time. Besides the monarchy ideals, you can also check out the castle’s brewery for a pint of their own beer called PREUSSENS.
Wartburg Castle was built in the Middle Ages and stands in all its glory over the town of Eisenach. What’s more, it also happens to be the first German castle to get the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. Wartburg Castle carries an incredible overview of 1000 years worth of German history.
Once you set foot inside the castle, you’ll fully understand why everyone revels in its magnificence. The surviving main building and the 12th-century great hall are exemplary of late Romanesque architecture. Moreover, Wartburg Castle still towers over the surroundings and bears traces of its former glory. What’s more, this castle even provided refuge to Martin Luther King during his exile.
On the guided tour of the castle, you will be able to surround yourself with German history, culture and arts. You can catch a glimpse of the castle’s rooms or explore the fine paintings, tapestries and furniture in the museum. Besides that, the Summer Nights festival, Christmas market and theatre also attract tons of visitors from all over the world.
A backpacking trip around Europe isn’t complete until you’ve treaded through a few of their most famous castles. Lucky for you, there’s no shortage of incredible medieval castles in Europe to explore. Whether you’re here for history or simply to explore, you definitely won’t face any disappointment.
These old medieval castles in Europe have witnessed many important turning points in history. They also serve to remind you of their roots with their unchanging structures, interiors and tales. So if you’re down for an adventure, check out these castles now.