15 Magically Surreal Castles That Actually Exist

RealClear Staff


The most famous castles of all are the ones that never *really* existed, like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty's castles. However, those glorious and magical castles of our imaginations have actually been inspired from real castles around the world. 

Princesses, kings, queens, and other royalty have lived in these magical places throughout the centuries. 

A few are still inhabited today, many are tourist destinations, and some have fallen into ruin, but they still hold the magic that we all remember from the Fairy Tales of our imaginations.

Here are 15 of the most beautifully surreal castles that exist in our world today! 

15. Highclere Castle, United Kingdom

Highclere is a 19th century castle that serves as the main filming location for the TV show Downton Abbey.

It is also where British celebrity Katie Price held her 1st wedding, and where many other celebrities hold events and shoot music videos.

14. Osaka Castle, Japan

Osaka Castle is a in Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan that was built in 1583, and was in use until 1868. 

The castle is one of Japan's most famous, and it played a major role in the unification of Japan during the 16th century.

13. Château de Versailles, France

The Palace of Versailles or simply Versailles, is arguably one of the most famous palaces in the entire world. It was the residence of  Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI.

The court of Versailles was the center of political power in France from 1682 until 1789 after the beginning of the French Revolution. 

12. Kylemore Abbey, Ireland

Kylemore Abbey is a Benedictine monastery that was founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle in Ireland. The abbey was founded for Benedictine Nuns who fled Belgium during World War I.

11. Burg Hochosterwitz, Austria

Hochosterwitz Castle is Austria's most imposing and famous medieval castle, as it is built on 520 feet of rock.

Since the 1500s no changes have been made to Hochosterwitz!

10. Castillo de Coca, Spain

Castillo de Coca was built in the late 15th century by Don Alonso de Fonseca, and on the site of ancient Cauca, the birthplace of the Roman emperor Theodosius. 

Today, it is used as a school.

9. Pena National Palace, Portugal

The Pena National Palace in Sintra, Portugal stands on the top of a hill above the town of Sintra, and on a clear day it can be easily seen from Lisbon and much of its metropolitan area. 

The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. 

8. Catherine Palace, Russia

Built in 1717 and named for Catherine I of Russia, it was the summer home of her and her successors.

Unfortunately, much of the original palace was destroyed purposely when German forces retreated after the siege of Leningrad during World War II.

It has since been restored to its former glory.

7. Peleș Castle, Romania

Peleș Castle is in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania, and was built in the late 1800s on an existing medieval trade route that linked Transylvania and Wallachia.

6. Château de Chillon, Switzerland

The Château de Chillon (Chillon Castle) is a majestic castle located on an island in Lake Geneva. 

The castle consists of over 100 independent buildings that were gradually connected to become the building as it stands now. 

5. Castle Howard, Yorkshire

Castle Howard is an extremely important and popular tourist destination in the UK. 

It has been home to the Howard family for over 300 years, and is a magnificent 18th century residence set within 1,000 acres in the heart of North Yorkshire, England.

4. Schloss Moritzburg, Germany

Moritzburg Castle is a Baroque palace in Moritzburg, in the German state of Saxony. The castle, built from 1542–1546, has 4 round towers and lies on a symmetrical artificial island. 

3. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle was built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1886, and has since been one of the post popular European tourist destinations.

Every year 1.4 million people visit the castle, and it was the inspiration for Cinderella's castle at Disneyland.

2. Corvin Castle, Romania

Corvin or Hunedora  Castle was originally built in 1446, but has since undergone many renovations.

The most important aspect and claim to fame of this structure is that it is the "real" Dracula's castle! Tourists are told that Vlad III of Wallachia (commonly known as Vlad the Impaler) was held prisoner here in the 13th century. Spooky!

1. Prague Castle, Czech Republic

It is thought that the breathtaking Prague Castle was founded around the year 880, over 1,200 years ago! It is also named the largest ancient castle in the world.

Today the Crown Jewels are kept in Prague Castle, as are the relics of Bohemian kings, precious Christian relics, art, and priceless historical documents. Amazing!



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