Constructed in a Romanesque style in the 11th century, updated with Gothic features thereafter, located in the north east of Luxembourg, close to the border with Germany is the medieval Vianden Castle, one of the largest fortified castles west of the Rhine. Standing on a 100 metre (328 ft) rocky promontory above the town of Vianden, this beautiful castle fell into disrepair throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Fully restored in the 20th century, it is today the most well known castle in Luxembourg, and thankfully remains one of the most beautiful in Europe.
25. Vianden Castle
First constructed in the 13th century, located to south east of the Swiss capital, Bern, on the banks of Lake Thun lies probably the most visually striking castle in Switzerland, the majestic Oberhofen Castle. Over the centuries much of the structure has been demolished and rebuilt, with the building today mostly having an 18th century Romantic and Baroque style. Set within wonderful landscape gardens, this beautiful lakeside castle has been declared a Swiss heritage site of national significance.
24. Oberhofen Castle
Located in the far south east of Bulgaria, close to the Black Sea is Ravadinovo Castle, sometimes known as The Castle In Love With The Wind. For around €4 visitors are free to wander this fairy tale building, its landscaped alleys, the well maintained gardens with fountains, statues, parrots and peacocks and look out across the lake of swans, though not all is quite as it seems. Built in the 1990's the Castle of Ravadinovo was built with such expertise and attention to detail it was designed to appear as a real medieval castle. In effect it is a real castle, as new as any other castle would have been at one time.
23. Ravadinovo Castle
Built in 1912 on what is now the disputed Crimean Peninsula, located on the cliffs overhanging the Black Sea is the compact and decorative Neo Gothic castle known as the Swallow's Nest. Designed in a fairy tale style more in keeping with castles in Germany, the Swallow's Nest with its balcony observation decks has become a major attraction and the symbol for the Crimean coastline.
22. Swallow's Nest
Country: England, United Kingdom
Constructed at the end of 1066 AD as part of the Norman Conquest of England, the White Tower was built by William The Conqueror and was at the time resented as a symbol of oppression. Situated next to Tower Bridge on the banks of the River Thames in the Englis capital, London, the castle has played an important role in the countries history, having been besieged several times. Expanded, restored and updated throughout the following centuries, the castle has operated as a grand palace, used as an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, a prison, the home of the Royal Mint, a public record office and home to the Crown Jewels. One of the countries most important historical buildings, one of London's most recognisable landmarks, the Tower Of London has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
21. Tower Of London
Built in the 13th century in the far northern centre of Poland is one of the most beautiful castles in the country, the Castle Of The Teutonic Order Of Malbork, otherwise more simply known as Malbork Castle. Having survived as a grand palace within the territory of Royal Prussia, it was only in World War II when the castle suffered any damage, having to undergo restoration works in the late 20th century. Today this classic medieval fortress serves as a museum, has the honour of being classed an official historic monument of Poland, holds the title of the largest castle in the world when measured by land area, and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
20. Malbork Castle
Built in the early 15th century at the extreme north eastern tip of the Danish island of Zealand is Kronborg Castle, immortalised as the inspiration for Elsinore, the castle from William Shakespeare's, Hamlet. Situated at the narrowest point within the Øresund strait, this beautiful Renaissance styled castle is a mere 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) from Helsingborg, mainland Sweden. Considered one of the most important Renaissance castles in northern Europe, Kronborg Castle has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
19. Kronborg Castle
Country: San Marino
In the small microstate of San Marino, situated atop the 739 metre (2,425 ft) Monte Titano (Mount Titan) are the Three Towers Of San Marino, the oldest, highest and most famous of which is the Guaita. First constructed in the 11th century it reached its current form in the 15th century. Depicted on both the national flag and the coat of arms it is the symbol of the country, and along with the other two towers of Cesta and Montale the complex has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Country: England, United Kingdom
Built in the 11th century, located to the west of the English capital, London, in the county of Berkshire is the longest occupied palace in Europe, Windsor Castle. Having been upgraded and updated throughout the centuries this long serving home of the British Royal Family has elements of Georgian expression with extravagant Baroque interiors with Rococo and Gothic furnishings still admired by visitors from around the world. This hugely popular tourist attraction is the home and workplace to more than 500 people, making Windsor Castle the largest inhabited castle on the planet.
17. Windsor Castle
South west of the Belarus capital, Minsk, in the town of Mir is the Mir Castle Complex. Along with Nesvizh Castle it belonged to Poland from 1921 to 1939 and just as with Nesvizh it too has become one of the gems of Belarus. Built in the 16th century in a Belarusian Gothic style, its later Renaissance additions have only added to its beauty. It is one of the finest castles in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
16. Mir Castle Complex
Overlooking the European beauty spot of Lake Bled in Slovenia is the countries oldest castle and one of its major tourist attractions, Bled Castle. Built upon a sheer cliff face, this Romanesque Renaissance structure dates back to the 11th century and owes much of its popularity to its stunning natural mountain and lakeside surroundings. Visitors should make extra effort to visit the upper courtyard chapel, built in the 16th century it is decorated with illusionist frescoes of the period.
15. Bled Castle
Built in the 12th century, in the far west of Germany between the city of Frankfurt and the Belgian border, a stone's throw from Cochem, is the medieval Eltz Castle. Named after the Eltz family, that same family still occupy the castle an amazing thirty generations later. Situated on a rocky spur some 70 metres ( 230 ft) high, this Romanesque, Baroque stronghold is one of the continents most picturesque fairy tale castles.
14. Eltz Castle
Built around 1120 AD, to the north of the Spanish capital, Madrid, in the city of Segovia is the Segovia Fortress. Sitting on a rocky outcrop, shaped like the bow of a ship, this Romanesque and Gothic structure remains one of the most distinctive castle palaces in the country. Having been devastated by fire in 1862 and subsequently repaired, the castle has served as a royal palace, state prison, royal artillery college and military academy, today operating as a museum and major tourist attraction. One of the most visually striking castle structures in all of Europe, the fortress has been declared one of the most important structures in the Segovia UNESCO World Heritage Site.
13. Segovia Fortress
Country: Czech Republic
Founded in 1348 AD to the south west of the Czech capital, Prague, is the majestic Karlštejn Castle, probably the most picturesque castle in the country. In the late 15th century after the main tower was damaged by fire the building underwent serious restoration works adding a Gothic style. Later in the 16th century Renaissance additions were added, giving the castle its current appearance. Once occupied by The Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II, housing the Imperial Regalia, the crown jewels of Bohemia and the coronation jewels of Czechoslovakia, this medieval fortification is steeped in history. One of the most famous and frequently visited castles in the country, it is without doubt one of the most striking castle structures in Europe.
12. Karlštejn Castle
Completed in 1842 in the south west of Germany, directly south of the city of Stuttgart is the beautiful Gothic Revival styled Lichtenstein Castle. Overlooking the Echaz Valley at an elevation of 817 metres (2,680 ft) above sea level, this relatively modern castle was inspired by the novel of the same name, itself inspired by a medieval castle whose ruins lie a few hundred metres away. Despite its relatively young age, its fairy tale style has led many to regard it one of the most beautiful in all of Europe.
11. Lichtenstein Castle
Founded around 274 AD in the south of France between Toulouse and Perpignan is the Cité de Carcassonne, a medieval citadel located in the town of Carcassonne. With its 3 kilometre (1.9 mile) encircling wall interspersed with 52 circular towers it is as much a fortified city as it is a castle. In the 13th century additional walls were placed outside the Roman walls which were later demolished. Restored at the end of the 19th century the Cite De Carcassonne was declared a 'Monument Historique' of France and later given the even higher honour of being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
10. Carcassonne Castle
Country: Czech Republic
In the Czech capital, Prague, sits the enormous Prague Castle complex, which according to the Guinness Book Of Records is the largest ancient castle in the world. First constructed in 870 AD, it took over 1,000 years to finally be completed in 1929, encompassing virtually every architectural style of the last millennium. Today the official office of the President of the Czech Republic, throughout the centuries it has been the seat of power for the kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman Emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia. Within the complex stands the incredible Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, Romanesque Basilica of St. George, a monastery, several palaces, defense towers, gardens and several museums. Prague Castle is one of the most visited attractions in the Czech Republic.
9. Prague Castle
First built in 860 AD in the south east of Austria, north of the city of Klagenfurt near the border with Slovenia is one of Europe's most impressive castle structures, as well as one of Austria's finest medieval castles, Hochosterwitz Castle. Sitting atop and wrapping itself around a 172 metre (564 ft) Dolomite rock it has long been the regions major attraction. On a clear day it can be seen from up to 30 kilometres (19 miles) away, and from the castle itself if offers fantastic views across the surrounding landscape.
8. Hochosterwitz Castle
Built in the 14th century in western Romania is the Gothic Renaissance styled Corvin Castle, sometimes called the Hunyadi Castle, one of the largest castles in Europe. In 1462 the castle housed its most infamous prisoner, Vlad the Impaler, the real life inspiration for Dracula. Today it serves as a beautiful tourist attraction, with its tall towers, coloured roofs and stone carved balconies it is one of the continents finest ancient castles.
7. Corvin Castle
Dating back to the 13th century, in the city of Avignon in the far southern centre of France is the Papal Palace, made up of two joined buildings that combine to make one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. Designed by two of France's best architects, with lavish detailing from two of the best Italian students of Siena, this enormous landmark is considered the best example of international Gothic architecture on the continent. From a time when Avignon was the seat of the Pope, one of the most powerful cities of 14th century Europe, the dominating Palais Des Papes, the Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge make up the Historic Centre Of Avignons UNESCO World Heritage Site.
6. Papal Palace
Built in 1078 AD atop a 155 metre (509 ft) high rock above the town of Werfen, south of the city of Salzburg, is the beautiful Hohenwerfen Castle. Surrounded by the high peaks of the Berchtesgaden Alps and Tennenbirge Mountain Range this already visually striking medieval castle is made to appear even more impressive by the incredible landscape within which it stands. Certainly one of the finest fortifications in Austria, it also has to be counted among the finest in Europe.
5. Hohenwerfen Castle
First constructed in the 11th century in the far south east of Germany, between Stuttgart and the Swiss city of Zurich is the fortress of Hohenzollern Castle. Built atop the 234 metre (768 ft) Mount Hohenzollern, the castle was completely destroyed in 1423 AD by the free imperial cities of Swabia. In 1461 AD a much stronger castle was built on the site, remaining intact through the Thirty Years War. Having fallen into disrepair in the 18th century, several dilapidated buildings were demolished. What stands on the site today, built around 1867 AD, is one of the most impressive castle structures in a country of incredible historic fortresses. Holding within it the Prussian historical artifacts, the Crown Of Wilhelm II and some personal effects of King Frederick The Great, the incredible Gothic Hohenzollern Castle is truly one of the great castles of Europe.
4. Hohenzollern Castle
Completed in 1854 AD in Sintra, just west of the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, is the Pena Palace, one of the most incredible and iconic castle structures in Europe. Sitting atop a high hill in the Sintra Mountains, from its vantage point it is possible on a clear day to see as far as Lisbon, some 30 kilometres away. This most beautiful Romanesque Revival castle in its magical location is a national monument of Portugal, shortlisted within the top twenty to have become one of the New 7 Wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
3. Pena Palace
Built around the 13th century, the Alhambra is a sprawling hilltop fortress complex that encompasses royal palaces, viewing patios, reflecting pools, fountains, orchards and landscape gardens. One of Spain's most visited attractions as well as one of the most famous buildings on the planet, the Alhambra is a jewel of man made construction within stunning natural surroundings. Certainly one of the most incredible fortified palaces on the continent, shortlisted as a candidate for one of the New 7 Wonders Of The World, it has unsurprisingly been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Built in 1886 AD in the extreme south of Germany, in the town of Schwangau, close to the Austrian border, is probably the most well known castle structure on Earth, Neuschwanstein Castle, translated as 'New Swanstone Castle'. Highly stylish, impeccably decorated inside and out, it became the global symbol of the era of Romanticism, nominated in the twenty strong shortlist to be considered for one of the New 7 Wonders Of The World. The inspiration for Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle, this majestic 19th century Romanesque Revival styled fortress is without question one of the most picturesque pieces of architecture in Europe, if not the planet.