10 Most Enchanting Medieval Castles in Europe

Magnificent and splendid, these castles have captured the hearts and imaginations of many. Most of them were built during the so-called the Dark Ages, but these strongholds have housed and protected nobilities for eras and even survived until this day. Nowadays, though, people associate these places with magic and stories of make-believe. You might even be familiar with some of the castles on this list. If you ever decide to visit some of the places listed here, you might still find its broken battlements that whisper stories of gory, epic battles, or its lonely chambers hiding dark, and deadly secrets that could never, ever be known. 

Here are my top 10 picks for the most stunning medieval castle in Europe:

1. Bran Castle, Romania

Most likely, you’ve already heard of the legendary vampire and his castle in Transylvania. And being the only castle in Romania that fits Bram Stoker’s description in his immortal novel, Dracula, Bran Castle has since been known as—you guessed it—Dracula’s Castle. Although Dracula is certainly fictional, nobody could deny the mysterious beauty of the castle, as well as the enchanting town that surrounds it.

2. Trakai Island Castle, Lithuania

On an island in Lake Galve stands the Trakai Island Castle, which is also an important monument in Lithuania. It was built to be a formidable fortress until the Lithuanians suffered a crushing defeat in the Battle of Grunwald against the Polish army. The castle was almost left in ruins, and then in the 19th century, Romanticism saw the renewed interests of artists in the castle, and soon after plans of restoration began taking place. It was not until the 1950s that the reconstruction of the island castle started, following its original design. 

3. Hohenwerfen Castle, Austria

This beautiful medieval fortress is surrounded by the Berchtesgaden Alps and the adjacent Tennen Mountains, sitting above the Salzach River Valley. Due to its strategic location, the castle once served as a military base, and then, later on, became a state prison. Its long history as a defensive bulwark, the breath-taking views around this place, as well as the undeniable allure of the edifice itself, made it one of the most visited castles in Europe.

4. Eltz Castle, Germany

A castle perched atop a hill and hidden in the midst of the thick forest is like something straight out of a fairy tale, and Eltz Castle certainly meets that. Beautiful and mysterious, this castle has attracted many photographers and tourists for years. And for almost a thousand years too, it’s run and preserved by the same family. Seriously, what could be more amazing than that?

5. Malbork Castle, Poland

Considered as the largest castle in the world, Malbork Castle is also known as the Castle of the Teutonic Order. What could be the reason of this castle’s impressive size? When the seat of the Grand Master moved here from Venice, the castle was enlarged to accommodate more knights. The castle is located near the Baltic Sea and River Vistula, which gave the barges and trading ships easy access. The castle has a rich and colourful history, and it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Malbork Castle Museum.

6. Doorwerth Castle, Netherlands

One of the oldest castles in the Netherlands, Doorwerth Castle sits near the river Rhine. The original castle was most likely made out of wood, but following an invasion, it was later rebuilt from stone. The beautiful castle, along with its unique surroundings and three museums to visit, makes it worthwhile to visit.

7. Mont-Saint-Michel, France

Picture this: a castle proudly standing above a town in an island located in the middle of a large body of water. On the top of the castle is a towering spire that soars above the blue roofs of the monastery and buildings below it. This magical place is none other than Mont-Saint-Michel, a magnificent monastery, located in the bay which joins Normandy and Brittany.

For many years it was a place where pilgrims gather to show their faith. It was said that a bishop named Aubert had the church built on the top of the island after being ordered by the Archangel Michael himself. Since then, the majestic castle became a place of inspiration and devotion, both to the pilgrims and to tourists who have been captivated by its otherworldly beauty.

8. Alhambra, Spain

Down in the southwestern part of Europe lays a unique gem of a palace and fortress complex known as Alhambra. The fortress served as a residence for many monarchs since it was built by the last Muslim dynasty in the Iberian Peninsula. With its unique features that strongly reflect the Moorish culture and architectural style, Alhambra is certainly one of those phenomenal castles that will dazzle you with its richness.

9. Fenis Castle, Italy

Many castles are built on advantageous grounds such as hilltops and near bodies of water, but Fenis Castle begs to differ. It sits on a flat ground; however, it’s surrounded by double crenelated walls that envelop the castle and its many towers, some of which are massive. Its harmonious architecture makes it pleasing to the eye.

10. Windsor Castle, England

This list wouldn’t be complete without the famous home of the British royalty for hundreds of years. Occupying thirteen acres of land, Windsor Castle has two building complexes and the massive Round Tower between them. The castle itself is a medieval structure, which also features Georgian, Victorian, and Gothic design, reflecting the changes in architectural style over the long course of its history. As you would have expected in a royal residence, it’s also the home to many great art pieces. But since it’s one of the three official residences of the Queen, it’s a working palace as well as a favourite place of her Majesty to spend her private weekends in. It’s open to public and visitors can book their tickets to see the stunning and splendid castle of the reigning royals.

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