Fairytale Realms: Exploring Europe’s Enchanting Castles

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Stephanie is a cherished member of the Sampling America writing team, dedicated to crafting captivating narratives that transport readers to thrilling adventures across the country and beyond.

It’s no secret that Europe has the most gorgeous castles from medieval history. These buildings stand amazingly well due to their high-quality craftsmanship.

For anyone obsessed with medieval history or kings and queens, these castles are a perfect stop on your next European vacation.

The Palace of Pena

The Palace of Pena Portugal
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The Palace of Pena is located in the Sintra Hills on the west coast of Portugal. Portugal is a sincerely underrated country when searching for medieval or 18th-century architecture.

This castle was built at the request of King Ferdinand II in the early 19th century and showed off the area’s unique Moorish style. In Portugal, you’ll notice that much of the architecture is adorned with spectacular colors and sometimes mosaic in jewel-toned tile.

Lisbon is within driving distance of the Sintra hills, so you can take a day trip and a walking tour of the castle and the old town to experience authentic romanticism.

The Alcazar Castle

The Alcazar Castle Spain
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The Alcazar Castle of Segovia is a stone fortress constructed in the 12th century. Spain has a rich history of royals and graciously named this castle a world heritage site, making it accessible to the public.

The dramatic Herrarian-style castle consists of a moat, drawbridge, and battle walls. Its looming presence was meant to intimidate rivals, but its grand interior was the best the world had to offer for the royals who inhabited it.

Tour the armory, grand ballroom with gold ceilings, and even peek inside the royal chambers. You can also enjoy walking the battlement walls that surround the castle. 

The Castle in Love With the Wind

The Castle in Love with the Wind Bulgaria
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Bulgaria is a small country in the Balkan peninsula with stunning natural beauty.

To increase tourism to the area, Georgi Tumpalov, an architect and designer, wanted to create a modern castle that is harmonious with the natural environment.

The castle successfully brings visitors to a small and previously economically depressed area. Consider visiting this castle for a modern take on Gothic architecture with a fairytale spin.

The Neuschwanstein Castle

The Neuschwanstein Castle Germany
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Germany is home to some of the most stunning castles in Europe. King Ludwig II built the Neuschwanstein Castle in the 1800s as a place for him to withdraw from the public eye.

After his death in 1886, the castle was opened to the public permanently. Today, you can visit the castle nestled in the thick German woods, but only in the summer months, as it can be too difficult to traverse the terrain in snow.

Nicknamed “the castle of the fairy-tale king,” this stop should be on everyone’s bucket list.

The Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle Scotland
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It shouldn’t be surprising that most castles in books and movies are based on English, Scottish, and Irish architecture.

The Eilean Donan Castle sits in the Scottish highlands and is a quintessential Scottish castle. Built in the early 13th century, the castle was unfortunately damaged in the 18th century.

It was recently restored to its original glory and is open to walking tours.

Bran Castle

Bran Castle Romania
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The Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania, dates back to the Saxons in the 14th century.

Thanks to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, this castle is now known as the home of the real-life Dracula, Vlad III Dracula, also known as Vlad the Impaler. Stoker toured the area when writing his novel, and although the castle isn’t explicitly mentioned, many say that his descriptions of Dracula’s castle are similar to Bran’s.

However, historians have debunked any connection between Bran Castle and Vlad the Impaler, stating that he was most likely not welcomed by the family then but might have been imprisoned there before his death.

It’s still a fantastically spooky castle, and you can tour it any time of the year to soak in the delicious Gothic vibes.

Castello di Miramare

Castello di Miramare Italy
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Sitting on the Adriatic Sea in a thick green park, the Castello di Miramare was built in 1860 by Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian for his wife, Charlotte of Belgium.

This royal castle is a fantastic place to visit in northern Italy. It also has a local ghost story that captures the minds of visitors.

In the late 1860s, Napoleon III withdrew French support in Italy, and with that came Maximilian’s imprisonment by Italians. The Archduke was later shot to death; his wife, Charlotte, went insane and spent her final days as a recluse in the castle.

The tragic story gave birth to the idea that the castle is cursed and that anyone who sleeps there will die a tragic death.

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