Craving a little medieval history? With these castles, you can journey all the way back to medieval times, explore castle grounds, stroll through old rooms and passageways, and learn more about life and war in the Middle Ages!
Bodiam Castle – East Sussex, England
Built in 1385 by a former knight who served Edward III, Bodiam Castle was originally constructed to defend against invasions by the French. Its crenellated towers, portcullis, surrounding moat and entrance bridge have helped characterise its iconic appearance. The castle is open from 10.30am most days, and once you’re done exploring, you can grab a cup and a snack in the Wharf Tea-room.
Hohenzollern Castle – Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Sitting atop a massive bluff, Hohenzollern Castle seems almost too incredible to be real. While the original structure on the site stems back to the 11th century, it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that the castle we know today began construction. Inside the walls, you can explore the castle complex and casements, and take a guided tour of the interior rooms. Don’t forget the secret passageway, too!
Himeji Castle – Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan
Beauty, defence and a complex made of wood come together at Himeji Castle, which features 82 buildings. It has its origins in 1333, but was rebuilt and expanded significantly at the beginning of the 1600s. Wandering paths, cherry blossom-lined lawns and the main keep are the main sights at Himeji. If you look closely, it’s easy to see why it’s also called Hakuro-jō or White Egret Castle – because the structure resembles a bird spreading its wings.
Mont Saint-Michel – Normandy, France
When it comes to castle cities set on an island, it’s hard to go past the wonderment and history of Mont Saint-Michel. It’s been a monastery since the 8th century, a defensive castle, and even a prison. The abbey is the most popular attraction here, but elsewhere within the walls you can also dine at restaurants, explore the shops or visit Logis Tiphaine, the house of a 14th-century knight.
Hohenwerfen Castle – Salzach Valley, Austria
This medieval fortress is over 900 years old and towers magnificently over the Salzachtal Valley, just 40km south of Salzburg. A tour will take you through spaces like the armoury, the battlements and the bell tower, and will offer views of the surrounding Berchtesgaden Alps. Various ‘medieval’ events take place throughout the year and given the fortress was once used as a hunting base, falconry displays and shows are common, too.
Blarney Castle – Blarney, Ireland
One of the most popular castles in Ireland, Blarney dates from about 1446, having been rebuilt after the previous fortress was destroyed. Today, it’s possible to stroll through some of the castle’s rooms, battlements and gardens, but most come to see the Blarney Stone. If you kiss it, you’ll hopefully be rewarded with the ‘gift of the gab’ or an incredible eloquence of speech!
Chillon Castle – Montreux-Veytaux, Switzerland
The Counts of Savoy once holidayed in this medieval fortress (from about the 12th to 16th centuries) and it’s easy to see why. Chillon Castle, on the banks of Lake Geneva, showcases 25 historic buildings, three courtyards, and lake views that are almost magical. Inside, wall paintings, old chains from the castle’s prison days, great halls and underground cellars are all worth exploring. Guided tours are available as well.
Neuschwanstein Castle – Southwest Bavaria, Germany
What’s the mark of a great king? When he uses his own money (not the money taxed from his people( to build a castle retreat! That’s exactly what Ludwig II of Bavaria did in the late 1800s when he began constructing Neuschwanstein Castle. Today, it’s like something out of a fairytale (it inspired the Disneyland castle, after all!) and it attracts around 1.4 million visitors each year.
Are you ready to embark on a historical journey and explore some of these castles? Travel with peace-of-mind and don’t forget to pack InsureandGo travel insurance.
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