There are thousands of castles in Europe, some of which are iconic buildings that have inspired fairytale stories in the past and popular culture in modern times. If you fancy yourself a Cinderella, prince charming, or if majestic castles are your thing and you would like to visit a real-life one, here are some of the most intriguing fairytale castles from around Europe:
Tintagel Castle, Cornwall, England
The legend of King Arthur is inextricably linked with the Island of Tintagel and although there is no evidence to confirm it, the Earl of Cornwall was probably inspired by the story when he built his cliff top castle there in 1233. Access from the mainland is via a bridge that offers majestic views of the surrounding landscapes and the crashing of waves on the rocks below, giving visitors the perfect background to the fairytale sights ahead. The castle is surrounded by extensive grounds and is served by cafes and an exhibition area, making it a perfect place to enjoy fantastic sea views, wildlife and bird life.
Castle Sant’Angelo, Rome, Italy
Now serving as a museum displaying artifacts from its many past lives, Castle Sant’Angelo began life as Emperor Hadrian’s mausoleum but was then included as part of the city’s walls to increase security. During medieval times, the Castle became a personal fortress for the Pope with its own secret tunnel connected to the Vatican and was used as an escape route during the sacking of Rome in 1527. Castle Sant’Angelo was later turned into a formidable fort and eventually a prison.
Photo Dennis Jarvis under the Creative Commons License
The museum now housed there features displays that include prison cells, papal apartments, a military museum, and other aspects of its storied past. Whether you’re in Italy for a night out at the opera in Rome or you’re there to explore the architectural highlights of the capital, make sure to include a visit to Castel Sant’Angelo on your itinerary.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany
Photo by Steffen Dubouis under the Creative Commons License
With an astounding six thousand visitors every day in the summer months, Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany is known as “the castle of the fairy tale King.” This beautiful castle situated at the top of craggy cliffs tells the fate of its original owner, Ludwig II, who after losing his throne retreated away from the public spotlight to Neuschwanstein and immersed himself in a mythological world of fairy tales and legend.
Prague Castle, Czech Republic
Photo by Neil Girling under the Creative Commons License
The largest ancient castle in the world, open all year round, and surrounded by vast gardens that are free to visit between April and October, Prague Castle is the home of the Bohemian Crown Jewels that are kept here in a private room. This magnificent castle looks like something out of a story book and it has been the former residence of many a Holy Roman Emperor, Kings of Bohemia, and more recently the leaders of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic.
There are possibly hundreds more fairytale-esque castles in Europe, with the ones listed above being some of the finest and a great place to start if you plan on exploring the prettiest castles on the continent.