IN A SOCIETY WHERE THE OLD WORLD IS SELDOM CELEBRATED, WE STILL LOOK AT CASTLES WITH THE FAIRYTALE MAGIC THEY STILL HOLD. THE IDEA OF KINGS AND QUEENS HAS NEVER FADED FROM MANY PEOPLE’S DEFINITION OF BEAUTY, SO TODAY, WE CELEBRATE THE SEATS OF THIS LOST ELEGANCE AND PRESENT THE WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFUL CASTLES.
KILKENNY CASTLE, IRELAND
If traditional gothic architecture is your thing then look no further. Built it 1195 by William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, Kilkenny Castle, is built from a stone that is the definition of gray, yet it is undeniably beautiful. The Irish weather means that everything is always an incredibly lush green, making a beautiful contrast with the castle stone.
MONT ST-MICHEL, FRANCE
Located almost a kilometer off the coast of Normandy, Le Mont St-Michel is one of the most iconic castles the world has seen. At high tide the island is inaccessible by land, making it look as it the castle itself is floating out at sea, it’s fairytale appearance drawing innumerable tourists every year.
EL ALCAZAR DE SEGOVIA, SPAIN
Perched atop a rocky outcrop above the old city of Segovia, this Spanish castle is a testament to the magic that castles still enthrall in people, as the town below survives almost purely from the patronage of tourists. Its shape makes it the most distinctive of Spanish castles ever built.
NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE, GERMANY
In English its name means ‘New Swanstone Castle’ a fitting title for the towering white structure that has come to define the idea of German castles. On a rugged hill above a small village, this castle can be seen for miles in every direction around it. The Romanesque revival architecture being so adored that it was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.
BOJNICE CASTLE, SLOVAKIA
The proof that castles don’t need to be huge to be beautiful. Slovakia’s Bojince Castle is almost hidden by the trees that surround it, if it wasn’t for the pretty blue and pink spires that adorn it, you could barely see its walls. That is unless you happen to be standing on the other side of the emerald river that surrounds it’s grounds.
LICHTENSTEIN CASTLE, GERMANY
Another relatively small castle, Lichtenstein Castle is famous for its precarious placement atop a cliff. Destroyed and rebuilt twice, it was later rebuilt by Duke Wilhelm of Urach, Count of Württemberg, who was inspired by Wilhelm Hauff’s novel Lichtenstein and so named it thusly.
PRAGUE CASTLE, CZECH REPUBLIC
The centrepiece for one of the most beautiful eastern European cities, Prague Castle it still very much in use today as the home of The President of the Czech Republic, and can usually be seen dominating the Prague skyline, lit to every rafter, which is no small feat, considering it is the largest ancient castle in the world, with an area of about 70000 meters squared.
WINDSOR CASTLE, ENGLAND
The longest occupied palace in Europe is one of the most beautiful, described by art historian Hugh Roberts as “a superb and unrivalled sequence of rooms widely regarded as the finest and most complete expression of later Georgian taste”. It is both culturally, historical and architectural one of the most significant buildings in royal history.
OSAKA CASTLE, JAPAN
Osaka Castle is one of Japans most famous landmarks and played a major role in being the seat of power during the unification of Japan. Now it sits atop two raised platforms, its 13 structures isolated in traditional Japanese style are a testament to the perfection and beauty of tradition Japanese culture and architecture and like most buildings in japan, it is most beautiful when the cherry blossoms find it.
CATHERINE PALACE, RUSSIA
Built it the grand and flamboyant Rococo style, the summer residence of the Russian Tsars was built to define decadence and leisure. Emblazoned by blue and gold, It is a matter of record that when the architect presented the 325 meter long palace to the Empress for the first time, her courtiers and foreign ambassadors were all quite dazed.