From fables to fairytales, from movies to the royalty, even our own castles in the air! Everyone has built castles sometime in their lives. Castles are basically protective structures designed for the residence of royals and noblemen in the earlier times. They are not the same as palaces as the palaces house others and also are not as fortified structures in comparison to castles. Castles originated in Europe in the 9th and 10th centuries and served as defense mechanisms for rulers for establishing control over their territories and also launching attacks.
Apart from protective centres and attack bases castles also served the purpose of administration and symbolized the power and status of rulers, lords and princes. They also served as important routes for travel and were sometimes located close to mills, fields, rivers or residences. The materials used for construction of castles were usually soil and wood, but were soon replaced by stone and brick. They have a strong central core and were constructed without the traditional tower and arrowslit design. The construction further evolved into a more pragmatic, purposeful and scientific method and incorporated a polygonal, concentric design with mechanisms in place for adjoining fires.Today castles are a symbol of our rich and glorious past and have been subject to nature’s stresses but continue to stand tall due to their strong and sturdy construction and flawless design.
Top 10 Most Beautiful Castles In The World
10. Leeds Castle
Leeds castle was used as a residence for the first wife of Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon. It is a major tourism and luxury centre with a maze, golf course, dog collar museum, children playgrounds, etc. it is a Grade I listed building and a structure of historical and international significance.
9. St. Michael’s Mount
St Michael’s Mount is a structure of granite and the St Aubyn family resides in the castle and the chapel since 1650. It is located on a tidal island in Mount’s Bay, Cornwall, United Kingdom. Trees and wood remnants at low tides rest on the beach at Perranuthnoe. This castle bears resemblance to St Michael’s Mount in Normandy, France. It is a medieval castle owned by the National Trust.
8. Prague Castle
Basically a castle complex in Prague, Czech Republic, the Prague castle dates back to the 9th century. Now the office of the President of the Czech Republic, this castle has been a centre of power for rulers of Bohemia, Roman kings and emperors and all the presidents of Czechoslovakia. This castle is ranked as the biggest ancient castle in the world by the Guinness Book of Records, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world. It now is a popular tourist attraction.
7. Hampton Court Palace
A popular tourist attraction today, Hampton Court Palace was originally the residence of Henry VIII in the 16th century. It has a beautiful garden and is situated in Richmond by the Thames. The construction concluded in the year 1529 and is one of the only two intact palaces of King Henry VIII. As invasion and expansion ensued, a major part of the Tudor palace was erased and is a fusion of Tudor and Baroque styles with use of pink bricks, symmetrical designs. The palace is replete with gardens, paintings, a maze, tennis court, and houses the world’s largest grape vine too.
6. Château de Chambord
This castle was built between 1519 and 1547 and is based in France. It was accorded the status of World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1981. It is situated by the Cosson river. This castle has a unique architectural design on the lines of French Renaissance with a fusion of traditional French medieval art with Classical designs from the Renaissance period. The building never reached completion. It served as a hunting lodge for King Francis I of France. It is speculated that Leonardo da vinci may be one of the designers of this castle. The castle suffered considerable alteration and damage during the French Revolution as well as floods in June 2016 and is now open to the public.
5. Windsor Castle
This castle is the official residence of the British Royal Family in Berkshire. It is 900 years old and houses luxurious, opulent and tastefully designed rooms with a Georgian style of construction. This castle served as a military centre during the British Civil War. This castle is a popular tourist attraction today and also a weekend residence of queen Elizabeth II.
4. Glamis Castle
Also a heritage landmark of Scotland, Glamis Castle is located near the village of Glamis in Angus. It was also the childhood residence of Queen Elizabeth and is surrounded by parks, and old trees belonging to rare varieties. This castle is known to be haunted owing to its eerie setting and is linked to various legends and myths including the legend of the Glamis monster. Currently the Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne live here, and the castle is open to public.
3. Neuschwanstein Castle
This breathtaking castle was the inspiration for castles in numerous Disney movies and dates back to the 19th century. It is located in Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The surroundings are picturesque with a hilly backdrop and lush green landscapes. King Ludwig II used his personal treasury and even reportedly borrowed money for maintaining this castle. It is built on the lines of contemporary architecture principally based on castle romanticism. Its architecture is a fusion of Romanesque, Byzantine and Gothic architecture.
2. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle located in Scotland is a classic example of Scottish heritage. This castle was originally a fortress and is situated on the Castle Rock entirely covering the skyline of Edinburgh. It was a centre of Scottish power with sieges, garrison centres, raids, murder and more. The Edinburgh castle is a historic landmark that is still controlled partially by the British Army and serves as a storehouse of memories and information about Scottish heritage and royalty.
1. Mont Saint-Michel
This is basically a part of a commune in France and is located on a mountain peak in Normandy, France. As a matter of fact, this is an abbey and has great religious significance. Bishop of Avranches St. Aubert laid the foundation of Mont Saint Michel after dreaming of archangel Michael and has over the years endured religious conflict, serving both as a worship centre and a prison for criminals and sinners. Mont Saint-Michel was accorded the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. The monument is an exquisite example of medieval, gothic architecture, entirely composed in granite and is the third most popular tourist destination in France.