Castles and Palaces

We stumbled across an article from a travel website naming the top 10 castles in the world. We’d only been to two on the list  – Neuschwanstein in Germany and Chateau de Chillon in Switzerland. But it got us thinking – what would our top-ten list be? And how many castles have we been to?

Coming from the United States, we tend to share in the idea pushed on us by Disney at an early age that castles are magical, beautiful, complete with Prince Charming and a beautiful Princess. In reality many of these castles have dark and bloody histories full of murder and mayhem. Both Heath and I are history buffs, though, and really love seeing castles and learning about the people who lived in them and the life they led.

In case you were curious, here are all the castles that we’ve been to, sorted by country and vaguely in the order we visited them.

Ireland

  • Dunguaire Castle (though technically a Tower House, but labeled a castle)
  • Cahir Castle

England

  • Scarborough Castle

Scotland

  • Stirling Castle

Switzerland

  • Château de Chillon
  • Château d’Aigle
  • Munot (technically a fort, I guess, but aren’t all true castles fortifications?)
  • Schloss Laufen
  • Schloss Rapperswil
  • Schloss Hegi (though, only I have been to that – Heath hasn’t yet)
  • Castelgrande

Germany

  • Schloss Neuschwanstein
  • Schloss Hohenschwangau

Our favorites so far are Château de Chillon and Stirling. We really loved those castles because you were allowed to explore the entire castle, seeing everything from the kitchens to the dungeons. While Château de Chillon’s history isn’t particularly bloody (the only attack on the castle frightened the inhabitants to jump into boats and sail away on the lake), it is an absolutely gorgeous castle. Stirling has been the key factor in numerous battles throughout history and is also fascinating because of all of the different architectural styles.

There are so many more castles that we want to visit around Europe. One of the reasons why we want to stay in Switzerland a bit longer is to do a bit more traveling while our child (and future children) are young. Here’s just a few more we want to discover.

Ireland (this is where we want to retire, after all)

  • Bunratty Castle
  • Carrickfergus Castle
  • Tullynally Castle

England

  • Windsor Castle
  • Hampton Court
  • St. Michael’s Mount
  • Leed’s Castle
  • Tintagel Castle

Scotland

  • Edinburgh Castle (we were outside of it, but didn’t want to tramp through the mess of them setting up for their annual Military tattoo).
  • Holyroodhouse (the Queen was in residence for just a few days overlapping our visit to Edinburgh, so we missed it)

Spain

  • Alcázar of Segovia

Romania

  • Castel Bran (Dracula’s Castle)

France

  • Palace of Versailles
  • Château de Fenelon
  • Château de Hautefort
  • Château de Losse

Austria (once we forgive them for the ticket they gave us for not having a special sticker on our rental car)

  • Hofburg

Iran (if relations ever improve, I’d love to tour the country)

  • Arg-e-Bam

China

  • Forbidden City

And when we get back to North America, maybe we should hop on up to Canada and see Le Château Frontenac.

Feel free to comment and add your own suggested castles or your experience with a castle we’ve already visited.

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2 thoughts on “Castles and Palaces

  1. We used to visit France each summer when I was a child and I must have visited about a hundred castles if not more throughout Europe. It was weird when I went to EuroDisney to see that fake pink castle. I looked inside to see what kind of ride or entertainment was in the castle, but it was just the castle itself.

    My favourite castle has to be the Chateau at Menthon-Saint-Bernard though. It has a very personal feeling and it’s still inhabited as well. It’s lovely to see such an old castle still being used as a residence. And those views over Lake Annecy…

    Oh and definitely visit Versailles. It’s so huge and impressive, it’s amazing. Tintagel is very nice too, although it’s very much a ruin. And don’t forget the Alhambra in Grenada, Spain! There’s also a sister-castle in Sevilla I believe.

    Like

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