Europe boasts such magical and varied landscapes, that many of its landmarks have provided inspiration for your favorite Disney films. Merida’s home in Brave? That’s based on Eilean Donan Castle in the Scottish highlands. Elsa’s icy abode in Frozen? Just look to Akershus Fortress for the similarities.
With such influential beauty, it’s no wonder that Europe is such a hyped destination for families looking for an adventure packed vacation. Let’s take a look at a handful of the countries that are home to castles worth exploring.
Long used as a cross roads in Europe, lots of castles are dotted around Bulgaria. This is a charming country with quaint villages, green mountain ranges and fairytale architecture. To visit just one of its plentiful castles is to get a first-hand feel for its rich history. Tsarevets is a medieval fortress complete with dungeons and a cathedral! Today it hosts a Sound and Light audio visual show in March that lights up the grounds and atmosphere. Tsari Mail is a 4th century Roman fortress that was recently reconstructed and opened in 2013. Take the sun and scenic mini railway up to Hill of the Holy Saviour to have a wander around the detailed site.
Croatia is a colourful part of the world, with luscious green land, bright blue waters and red roof-tile houses in the UNESCO World Heritage Old Town. This old world aesthetic is present in the many fortresses and castles that have been converted or restored. Pazin Kastel sits in above a 426 feet gorge in the northern town of Istria. It has seen a fair amount of turbulence since being built in around 938 AD! Here you will find the Museum of Istria and can enjoy the incredible views below. Trakošćan Castle is a beautifully dramatic building that was also built in the north. This 13th century building (unsuccessfully) hides in a forest of bushy trees with its tall turrets and white walls. Go inside to check out the old weaponry, portraits, the music salon and the hunting room.
A vast country with an equally immense history, Spain has brilliant castles that document its story. Moorish influences can be found in 15th century Coca Castle, which is only three sided as it sits on a hill that acts as a defence from enemies. In the Madrid area visitors can discover the six floors New Castle of Manzanares el Real. Its imposing military architecture is made entirely of granite and is home to a museum! Breaking away from traditional Moorish and Spanish design, the Alcazar of Segovia is said to have been the inspiration for Cinderella. Isabelle I was crowned here in 1474 and today it is a museum well worth checking out for a mixture of magic and history.
Whether you’re heading off on cheap holidays or a luxury getaway, wandering around a local castle is a must for any itinerary on your vacation. It might even inspire you to do a few upgrades at home – perhaps adding a turret to the garage or a making a moat to keep pesky door salesmen away!