Here are the most beautiful medieval castles of all time!
We don’t know about you, but old castles seem to bring the child out of us, and we cannot help imagining living during these exciting, dangerous, but also romantic medieval times.
There are so many spectacular castles spread across the world, each with its own story to tell. Stories of romance and war, bravery and savagery, and economic and political struggle.
Below, we list a few of such medieval castles that may help evoke the same emotions for you as they do for me. Some are grand and well-known, while others are small and quaint in distant places far from anywhere, few people even know of their existence.
No matter where or how big they are, they all have one thing in common – they are all among the most beautiful castles in the world.
Let’s get cracking!
31 Most Beautiful Medieval Castles in the World
Here are the most beautiful medieval castles in the world in no particular order.
1. Eltz Castle, Germany
Perched on a 200-foot rock and surrounded by the Eltz Forest in Germany is another one of those Middle Ages castles that make you catch your breath whenever you view it.
Eight towers rising 115 feet, with steep-domed slate roofs and turrets, it’s a sight to behold.
A guided tour through the interior takes you through its 900-year-old history, with each room a masterpiece.
Suits of armor and medieval weaponry, famous paintings, exquisite furniture, sacral leaded windows, extravagant ceilings, and wall frescoes, while the treasury displays priceless artworks in gold, silver, and precious stones to boggle your mind.
We could carry on here, but you just need to see this castle for yourself, which is one of the most popular landmarks in Germany.
2. Chateau de Sully-Sur-Loire, France
Rising from the moat that surrounds it, this beautiful fairy-tale-like chateau is situated on the south bank of the Loire River a few miles east of Orléans in France.
The origins of this major landmark in France are unknown, being first mentioned around 1102 with references made to the Lords of Sully.
The various sections were built over the centuries, having suffered damage and reconstruction during the 18th century, as well as a fire in 1919 and during WW2, before being beautifully restored in the 1960s.
Today it’s a beautiful piece of architecture showcasing the opulent lifestyle of high society during medieval times, with priceless artworks and furnishings in every room.
A 10-minute video also explains the history of the castle. The rows of cypress trees lining the bridge were brought by General Lafayette from the USA over 200 years ago.
3. Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Standing high above the city on Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle is not only one of the most beautiful castles in the world but the most recognizable symbol of Scotland.
It’s regarded as the most attacked and besieged castle in the world. Although some parts were built during the 11th and 12th centuries, most of the current structures were built after the 16th century.
Walk in the footsteps and home of kings and queens, viewing Britain’s oldest Crown Jewels, made of silver, gold, and precious gems, the lavishly-decorated Royal Palace and Great Hall, and endless exhibition rooms showcasing tons of historical relics.
Various museums also house medieval armor and military items, including the Mons Meg, a 15th-century six-ton weapon.
The views of the city spread below and around the castle are spectacular, while the beautifully landscaped gardens lying in the castle’s shadow are dotted with historical monuments and memorials.
4. Windsor Castle, England
This is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world. Built around 1070 by William the Conqueror, it’s been the home of 39 monarchs for 1,000 years, and it was, until recently, Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite residence.
Ten monarchs lie buried here, including Henry VIII, Jane Seymour, and Charles I, who was executed for treason.
Consisting of 1000 rooms, covering 13 acres within 13,000 acres of meticulously-groomed grounds, this European castle ranks among the most beautiful castles in the world.
You can book a self-guided tour through apartments and magnificent ceremonial rooms packed with priceless paintings by Ruben, Van Dyck, and the likes, exquisite furniture, and historic royal treasures.
Not to be missed are St. Georges Chapel, Queen Mary’s Doll House, the Grand Staircase, and the spectacular Waterloo Chamber. The Changing of the Guard at 11 am is also a must-see. British pomp and ceremony at its finest.
No tour of Windsor Castle is complete without having a traditional nice cup of tea and cream scone at the Undercroft Café.
5. Brunnenburg Castle, Italy
Built in 1250 on a glacial bed, this is one of the most unusual castles from the Middle Ages. It’s situated above the city of Merano in northern Italy, despite its Germanic name, taken from a nearby spring.
It’s been restored many times, the most recent being during the 1950s, and was the home of the American poet Ezra Pound. Today it remains privately owned and open to the public.
The beautifully preserved castle rooms reflect life in days gone by, offering spectacular views of the countryside spread below and the nearby Tirolo Castle.
The museum houses a fascinating collection of medieval farming implements, giving an insight into peasant life, and some rare and endangered animals, like the Mangalitza pigs (crossbreed of Hungarian pigs and wild boar), spirally-horned Zackel sheep, and some weird chickens, ducks, and geese.
6. Guaita Castle, San Marino
Situated on the summit of Mount Titano in San Marino, this little-known but beautiful castle forms part of an ancient fortress complex built during the 11th century.
It has also served as a prison and has been repeatedly renovated over the centuries, reaching its current state in the 1400s.
A road with many steep stairways, known as The Witches, connect the three towers and offer grand views of San Marino and surrounding mountains and valleys, with the Adriatic Sea in the distance.
Visitors can take self-guided tours through this medieval castle, viewing historic weaponry while stunning displays give a sense of military and prison life all those centuries ago.
7. Bodiam Castle, England
Situated in Sussex, England, and completely surrounded by a wide moat with lily pads and giant carp and accessed by a wooden bridge, Bodiam is one of the most picturesque and yet, imposing stone castles from the Middle Ages. Built by Knight Sir Edward during the 1300s with two things in mind – defend and impress!
Its towering thick stone walls, topped with crenulations, murder holes, and towers on each corner, allowed archers to shoot arrows, fire cannons, and drop objects on their attackers, while the heavy portcullis gates prevented anyone from entering the complex.
Climbing up the spiral staircases to the tall towers offers fantastic views while learning about the history of the castle. Regular exhibitions are held here, where you can also find a café and souvenir shop.
The perfect spot for a family picnic in a truly fairy-tale setting. Kids absolutely love it!
8. Kilkenny Castle, Ireland
Originally built in 1195 along the River Nore in southeast Ireland, this castle has been rebuilt several times in its 800-year history.
Several features, such as the artificial lake, were added to the immaculate wooded grounds and gardens teeming with wildlife in the 1800s.
The interior is packed with magnificent decorated rooms and halls filled with valuable paintings, rugs, tapestries, period furnishings, statues, and historical relics dating back to medieval times.
The picture gallery will have you believe you’re in the Louvre. It is superb!
Do not miss seeing this castle when in Ireland.
9. Hochosterwitz Castle, Austria
Build atop a 560-foot-high rock in the Carinthia region of Austria, you realize that this is one of the most stunning castles from the Middle Ages long before you reach it. If you’re like me, you’ll be stopping every few minutes to take photos along the way.
From the car park, you can either give yourself a cardio workout, walk the steep and winding path through the 14 historic gates, which are the landmark of Hochosterwitz (25-30 minutes) or take the elevator (95 seconds).
Views of the meticulously-cultivated countryside from the top are sublime!
Unsure as to exactly when it was built, Hochosterwitz Castle was first mentioned in 860, and ever since, it has seen its fair share of battle and conflict.
The museum has an impressive collection of ancient weaponry and many historical items and paintings from the Renaissance period, while the restaurant at the top serves a delightful range of Carinthian cuisine.
10. Alnwick Castle, England
Situated in Northumberland in northeast England, Alnwick Castle is another of these beautiful medieval castles whose origins date back to the Norman Period.
Having withstood sieges and endured many attacks, it has fallen into disrepair and has been repeatedly restored over the centuries. Next to Windsor, Alnwick Castle is the second-largest inhabited castle in Britain.
It has served as a fortress, military outpost, college, and refugee center and is now a popular tourist site.
It’s also one of those old castles that have been used as a setting in many films, including the Harry Potter series and Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, and numerous television series such as Downton Abbey, Count Dracula, and Blackadder.
There are plenty of things to learn, see and do, both inside and outside, for the whole family, including falcon displays, medieval music festivals, and the “broom lessons” and “dragon tournaments.”
11. Predjama Castle, Slovenia
This has to be the most dramatic of all medieval castles anywhere in the world!
Built in stages from 1202 onwards, in a cave halfway up a 400-foot cliff face, close to the famous Postojna Caves, Predjama Castle also sits above a massive cave complex spreading four stories high and stretching for nine miles. A most unique mix of natural and artificial structures found anywhere in the world!
An audio-guided tour takes you to various terraces through living quarters, dungeons, torture chambers, and secret passages, giving you a real sense of medieval life, with spectacular views of the countryside below.
You also have a choice of exploring the caves beneath the castle, including one for adrenaline junkies, where there is no artificial light. Just you with your torch, the bats, and the darkness.
Read next: Unique Travel Destinations Around The World
12. Conwy Castle, Wales
Standing guard at the mouth of the Conwy River in north Wales, Conwy Castle was built by King Edward I in 1283 to subdue the rebellious Welsh population.
Over the centuries, the ravages of wars and rebellions took their toll before falling into ruin in the 17th century. During the 1800s, it was restored, and today it’s one of the most beautiful castles in the world and a famous landmark.
This gigantic fortress has eight massive towers and a high curtain wall ensuring the town retains its medieval character. It’s imposing but beautiful, both from the outside and inside.
Visitors can ascend to the top of the towers by steep and narrow stone stairways to enjoy spectacular views of the picturesque harbor, the town, and the countryside spread out below. A photographer’s dream!
13. Vianden Castle, Luxembourg
Built between the 11th and 14th centuries on the foundations of an old Roman castle, this hilltop fortress is one of the biggest and most beautiful medieval castles of the Romanesque and gothic periods in Europe. It’s situated along the Our River in western Luxemburg.
Being the home of influential counts, it fell into disrepair in the 1820s until brought back to its former glory as recently as 1977.
An audio-guided tour through the castle and palace will reveal a rich collection of armory and furnishings, stunning architecture typical of castles from the Middle Ages, and scenic views of the town and river spread below.
In summer, they hold the Medieval Festival, with battle simulations, minstrels, fire artists, and various other medieval activities.
14. Bojnice Castle, Slovakia
About 100 miles northeast of Bratislava lies another beautiful castle from the Middle Ages.
Built on a hilltop in the 12th century as a wooden fort, it was upgraded to a stone structure over the years, with distinct Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance features, such as steep roofs and spirally-topped coned towers. Surrounded by a moat and landscaped gardens, it’s absolutely magnificent!
The castle is a walking museum with ornately decorated rooms typical of the period, with gold gilded ceilings, rare paintings, Chinese vases, suits of armor, weaponry, and the historic 14th-century altar.
Said to be haunted by the legendary Black Lady, Bojnice Castle is host to the annual International Ghosts and Spirits Festival during May, drawing ghosts, witches, and vampires across the world. I’m not joking!
Bojnice Castle becomes even more magical in winter with the first falls of snow. A stunning sight not to be missed when you’re in Slovakia.
15. Mehrangarh Fort, India
This colossal fort complex, covering 1200 acres, stands proud on a massive rocky outcrop rising vertically 400 feet above the city of Jodhpur in northwest India.
Built from 1459 through to the 17th century, it ranks among the most beautiful castles in the world and is a testament to the architectural and engineering skills of India during medieval times. Views from the fort are breathtaking, and you’ll get to see why Jodhpur is called The Blue City.
The complex comprises several palaces, enormous courtyards, and a museum housing some of the most valuable and historic treasures of India’s history.
Intricate carvings, furniture, paintings, textiles, and palanquins in every room, with Indian weapons such as swords and daggers, with gold, silver, emeralds, rubies, and pearls on virtually every relic.
You can either walk up to the fort or take the lift, and you can also enjoy a zip line to take in this unique landscape. An absolute must-see!
16. Castle of Coca, Spain
Located on the outskirts of Coca in central Spain, this is one of the few medieval castles not built on a hilltop with solid stone but on a plain and built with bricks.
Built during the 15th century, Coca Castle combines a mix of elaborate Moorish and flamboyant Gothic architecture.
Towering 130 feet above the moat surrounding this imposing structure, you can access the towers, walls, and turrets via steep staircases, gaining sweeping views of the forests and neighboring towns in the distance.
The museum, chapel, armory, dungeons, and gallery contain a collection of historic and religious artworks, documents, architecture, and weaponry, tracing the castle’s rich history.
Not to be missed is the Room of Secrets! If I tell you why it’s called that, it wouldn’t be a secret. You got to find out yourself.
17. Cairo Citadel, Egypt
Second only to the great pyramids of Giza, the Cairo Citadel is the most recognizable landmark in Cairo, dominating the city’s busy skyline.
Built by Saladin in 1183 to defend the city from the Crusaders, it became the seat of government and home to Egypt’s rulers for 700 years.
Saladin also constructed an outer wall encircling the city, using stones taken from the casings of the pyramids. This monstrous complex has been remodeled and extended by different rulers over the centuries.
The site includes three ornately decorated mosques, including the famous Alabaster Mosque, a military, police, and various other museums, including the opulent Abdeen Palace, said to be the most lavish palace in the world!
The Citadel also offers sublime views of the city, often dubbed The City of a Thousand Minarets.
18. Karlstejn Castle, Czech Republic
Set on the slopes of a picturesque wooded hill above a village on the southwestern edge of Prague, this is one of those old castles from the Middle Ages that was not built to defend territory but to house and protect royal treasures, holy relics, and the Imperial Crown Jewels.
Founded by Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, the castle remained home to him and his son until 1419.
It has since been rebuilt several times in different styles, remaining in the hands of royalty but now owned by the state.
The heavily fortified Chapel of the Holy Cross inside the High Tower houses replicas of the crown jewels, stunning paintings, furnishings, and historical relics, but its true beauty is from the outside.
The landscape around it is breathtaking, particularly during the fall when the forest greenery turns into a kaleidoscope of reds, golds, and yellows.
19. Dover Castle, England
Built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, Dover Castle is the largest castle in England and one of the most gorgeous castles in the world.
Being in a strategically important location, it is more than just a castle.
It encompasses a huge area filled with historical buildings dating from early Roman times, to the Cold War, above a labyrinth of secret tunnels and bunkers, all built for one purpose…to defend England. It has done that for nine centuries!
Step into the Royal Palace of Henry II and climb the spiral staircases to the roof of the tower for spectacular views of the complex, the green hills of the countryside, and the famous white cliffs.
On a clear day, you may see France across the Channel. A beautiful castle with a wonderful history.
20. Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland
Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most iconic images of Scotland.
Situated on a tiny island where three sea lochs meet, it was the perfect location to build the castle to protect the lands of the Kintail against the marauding Vikings during the 13th century.
It has since been destroyed and rebuilt several times, playing a major role in the Jacobite Risings in the 17th and 18th centuries, during which it was blown up by the English.
It lay in ruins until the island was privately bought and the castle restored to its former glory in 1932 according to the original plan.
It is accessible by a bridge from the mainland and is a major tourist attraction, adding charm and character to a majestic landscape in the Scottish Highlands.
21. Himeji Castle, Japan
Most people tend to associate medieval castles with only Europe and may be surprised to find Middle Ages castles in Japan of all places!
Built into the slopes of a 150-foot hill overlooking the city of Himeji, it is one of three major castles in Japan.
Consisting of 83 buildings with walls rising 85 feet and spread over 576 acres, it’s also the biggest and most visited old castle in Japan. Its bright white exterior and unique and elegant design have earned it the nickname of White Heron.
First built in the 1400s, it has been extended and renovated by various rulers through the centuries, reaching its current state in 1609.
A winding path through several gates leads to the main six-story wooden tower, from which spectacular views of the entire complex and the city below can be enjoyed.
In April, the hundreds of cherry trees in the gardens burst into a blaze of pink, turning the castle gardens into a fairy-tale wonderland.
22. Ksiaz Castle, Poland
The beginnings of this little-known castle in Poland go back to the 13th century.
Despite being damaged, plundered, and restored over centuries of war and conflict and changing hands so many times, it takes its rightful place among the most stunning medieval castles in the world.
This chateau-style castle is set in a picturesque location in the heart of a forest. Its many stately rooms have been lavishly renovated and decorated with priceless and historic furniture, paintings, ornaments, and enormous ceiling frescoes to reflect the lifestyles of its past owners. Each room will leave you in awe.
23. Pierrefonds Castle, France
Built during the 14th century on a site of a previous castle in the picturesque town of Pierrefonds, about 50 miles northeast of Paris, this gigantic chateau was besieged and torn down in the early 1700s.
It lay in ruins until Napoleon Bonaparte bought it in 1810 and was eventually restored by his nephew Louis-Napoleon III in the 1850s.
The restorations were, however, controversial, as the architects did not stick to the original design, choosing what they thought the castle looked like during the medieval era.
So basically, we have a mixture of history and imagination, creating an authentic fairy-tale castle.
From the outside, it is absolutely magnificent, adding to the charm of the town and countryside. There are several statues and artworks inside, but it fails to match the beauty of the exterior.
It is so pretty that it has been featured in numerous film and television series, including Merlin, Versailles, Highlander, and the 1998 remake of The Man in the Iron Mask.
24. Bran Castle, Romania
Built high on a 200-foot cliff, Bran Castle is one of those beautiful medieval castles shrouded more by myth and Hollywood hype than by factual events.
Built during the 14th century solely for protection, this Romanian castle was used against the Ottomans in the 15th century before becoming a customs post and playing a military role until the 18th century and eventually the home of Marie, the last queen of Romania.
Today it’s a museum dedicated to Queen Marie, beautifully refurbished with antique furniture, suits of armor, and royal relics.
But it’s also heavily marketed as Dracula’s Castle, although nothing could be further from the truth.
Nevertheless, more visitors come here seeking some connection with the infamous blood-sucking vampire than for the beauty of this gorgeous medieval castle.
25. Kasbah of the Udayas, Morocco
This medieval castle/citadel (Kasbah) in Rabat offers a mix of Moroccan culture, intricate Moorish architecture, and fascinating cobblestone streets packed with traditional blue and white houses, vendors, and colorful shops selling, well, everything.
Perched high on a hill, it also offers spectacular scenery of the Atlantic Ocean and the Bou Regreg River. In a nutshell, it is a city within a city.
The fortress was built in the 14th century, with several additions made through to the 17th century. Several cannons are still lying on the towers above the high defensive walls surrounding it.
You could get lost among the narrow alleyways around the Kasbah, experience Moroccan culture, and also see historical landmarks, like the unfinished Hassan Tower and the green-tiled pyramid mausoleum next door, within walking distance.
Royal Guards on horses at the entrance to the plaza add drama to his historic site, and you are permitted to photograph them. No pictures of soldiers and policemen are allowed in Morocco.
26. Gyantse Dzong, China
Dominating the landscape and perched on a high rocky outcrop above the town of Gyantse in Tibet, this medieval castle/palace complex was built in 1365, although a fortress had existed there since the 13th century.
It’s such a pity that it is situated so far from anything as very few visitors come here or even know of it. It’s, nevertheless, a stunning fortress with an intriguing history.
It was destroyed by the British in 1904 and again in 1967 by the Chinese but has now been restored. Getting there requires a walk up a steep hill, and already at an elevation of 13000 feet, it’s no joke.
The museum focuses on the brave resistance the local population put up against the powerful and better-equipped British forces, a fight that has earned Gynatse the nickname of Hero City.
27. Gravensteen Castle, Belgium
Built in the 10th century in Ghent, Belgium, this imposing medieval castle is an important historical landmark and a somber reminder of the city’s turbulent past.
Built entirely of stone, the castle walls and 24 towers, surrounded by a moat, were a symbol of wealth and military might for the Counts of Flanders.
An excellent audio guide explains the history of the castle, but the dungeons and torture chamber are not for the faint-hearted, with various implements of torture displayed. They say that many local couples choose this place to get married! Seriously?
Not to be missed is the huge mural of The Man in the Red Turban, visible from one of the towers, which you access through a steep staircase.
28. Trakai Island Castle, Lithuania
Built on a small island on Lake Galvé, 20 miles from the capital of Lithuania during the 14th and 15th centuries, this Gothic castle looks like it came out of a fairy tale book.
It’s accessible by boat or a wooden bridge, but the lake freezes up in winter, turning it into an ice-skating rink.
Designed for defensive and residential purposes, today, it is a major tourist attraction and houses a museum with thousands of artworks, medieval weapons, and historical artifacts.
The best time to visit would be in August when medieval festivals are held celebrating the rich history and culture of Lithuania.
29. Almourol Castle, Portugal
Situated high up on an island in the River Tagus, Almourol is one of Portugal’s most iconic medieval castles.
Originally pre-dating Roman times, it was conquered by the Moors and recaptured by the Christian Knights in 1129.
Reconstruction by the Knights Templar began in 1179 and formed part of a defensive system along the Tagus River.
Its massive walls, towers, and fortifications towering 60 feet above the river make an impressive sight. It can be accessed by boat or on foot during the dry season to explore the interior of this castle.
30. Örebro Castle, Sweden
This castle lies on an island on the River Svartån in the heart of Örebro, Sweden.
The oldest parts of the castle were built in the 13th century, with defensive additions made in the 15th to 16th centuries serving as the governor’s residence since 1674. It has seen its fair share of conflict, having been besieged nine times.
Guided tours take you through the castle, learning its secrets while exploring grand halls, living rooms, and dungeons for war prisoners, thieves, and witches.
Children love the north-west tower, where they can dress up as medieval kings and queens, sit on the royal throne and lock up their parents in the dungeons if they misbehave.
A truly magnificent castle to be enjoyed by the whole family.
31. Citadel of Carcassonne, France
Perhaps we have saved the best for last! Carcassonne is a 12th-century fortress built inside the Cité de Carcassonne in southern France.
It’s a fortress inside a fortress and one of the best medieval castles in Europe. Rectangular in shape with six towers and thick fortified curtain walls are typical of medieval defensive architecture, offering fantastic views of the complex and town sprawled around it.
The interior contains a chapel and museum displaying historical relics and gravestones of people related to the castle.
There are loads of other historical structures within the ancient walls, stretching for almost two miles, including the 12th-century Basilica, which is a treasure all on its own.
Final Thoughts On Castles From The Middle Ages
We hope these few majestic fortresses have raised some interest to visit them and walk in the same places where kings, queens, and brave knights once walked and lived.
Some of them may have also helped shape our lives hundreds of years after they have gone.
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