There are few people in this world who couldn’t recognize the enchanting, magical, dream-like fortress known as Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Disney World as we know it is tailor-made for adventurous and intrepid little dreamers. From princess makeovers to magical mirrors, it is the world’s most magical place.
Alongside candy, favorite characters and thrilling rides, it boasts the most enchanting castle in all the land, Cinderella’s Castle. No matter how many times you see it, no matter how old you are, Cinderella’s Castle is awe-inspiring 100% of the time.
If you’re fortunate enough to see it during Halloween or Christmas, it’s even more mind-blowing. So, I got thinking, where did all this magic come from?
Like many great works of art, the inspiration for Cinderella’s Castle comes from the most magical and storybook-plucked fortresses in all of Europe. I’m talking fairy tale quality, fairy Godmother flying around on unicorns kinda castles.
That’s right… and I’m going to show you all of them, but first let’s meet Herbert.
The Designing of Cinderella’s Castle
Herbert Dickens Ryman (June 28, 1910 – February 10, 1989), Disney artist, a personal friend of Walt Disney and chief designer of the Cinderella Castle, chose eight named architectural masterpieces that inspired his plans for Cinderella’s fairytale fortress.
Since 1971 Cinderella’s Castle has become the poster-castle for modern-day fairy tales, (for mainstream America that is because we all know these fairy tale castles were around long before Walt).
For others around the world, this was just a fabrication of some of Europe’s most stunning works of architecture, built in pieces from France, Germany, Poland and Spain.
Castles That Inspired Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World, USA
#1 Neuschwanstein Castle
Perched high above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany, stands what may be the most fairytale of them all, Neuschwanstein Castle.
Commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria, more than 1.3 million people visit this remarkable site annually. It also served as the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.
You can see the resemblance in the sky-high towers and distracting height. Other similarities can be seen inside the castle.
#2 Château de Chenonceau
The Château de Chenonceau towers over the River Cher. Cradled by the tiny village of Chenonceaux in the world-famous Loire Valley in France. It’s one of the most popular châteaux of the Loire valley and dates back to 1514.
Recognizably, the stained glass windows of this structure are seen in Cinderella’s Castle.
#3 Château de Pierrefonds
The Château de Pierrefonds is situated along the southeast edge of the Forest of Compiègne, northeast of Paris, between Villers-Cotterêts and Compiègne.
During the Middle Ages, it served as a military fortress, but has since undergone reconstructions in the late 19th century and is heavily toured today.
#4 Château de Chambord
This may be the most iconic of all the châteaux in the world. Its notable French Renaissance architecture flawlessly blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures.
It’s also the largest in the Loire Valley, originally a hunting lodge. How’s that for a man-cave.
#5 Château de Chaumont
This castle in Chaumont-sur-Loire, France was founded in the 10th century by Odo I, Count of Blois. It was destroyed once and rebuilt in the late 15th century and is now a protected monument.
This castle’s features are most noticeable in the elevations of Cinderella’s Castle.
#6 Alcázar of Segovia
Another towering fortress seated high on a cliff in the historic city of Segovia, Spain. The Alcázar of Segovia has served many functions throughout history including a prison!
You can see the resemblance here in the elevations of Cinderella’s Castle.
#7 Moszna Castle
The Moszna Castle is a historic site and castle residence located Moszna, Poland. The brick layering in this structure are very similar to that of the Disney masterpiece and projects inviting and rich elegance.
#8 Palace of Fontainebleau
This stunning palace is just outside of Paris, France and is perhaps the most breathtaking of all French châteaux. You can see the resemblance of its interiors in Cinderella’s Castle.
Its rich detail and lavish ornate trim on nearly everything practically mirrors that of the Palace of Fontainebleau.
Visiting Cinderella’s Castle is undeniably a magical experience for all. These castles bring that magic to life and remind us that there are magical places to explore all over the world.