Castles are amazing, and European castles are some of the best. Here’s a closer look at 5 castles of Europe; some you may have heard of, while others may be slightly less known, yet still impressive in their own right. Click on any image for a larger version or to view the slide show.
Dunnottar Castle – Stonehaven, Scotland
Judging by the way Dunnottar Castle (Dun Fhoithear in Scottisch Gaelic) appears now, it must have been a sight to see in its prime. It lies on the waters of the North Sea, on top of a large cliff. The location would be impressive simply based on its natural beauty, but add in the ruins of this ancient castle and you’ve got yourself a site that offers something for nearly everyone. Dunnottar has changed hands several times, but thankfully the current owners keep it open to the public year round. It is reached by one of two footpaths, one steep and direct, the other longer, but still steep. Next time you travel to Aberdeen, be sure to check the castle out, as it is only about a 30 minute drive by car.
Alcazar of Segovia – Segovia, Spain
Like many Spanish castles, the Alcazar of Segovia started off as an Arabic fort. While the exact age is unknown, the castle began to take its current form during the reign of King Alfonso VIII in the 12th century. The castle features mostly a Gothic design, despite having been renovated many times over the years. It was actually a prison for nearly 200 years, before a fire badly damaged it in 1862. Once restored to its classic look, the Castle was handed to the Ministry of War to act as a military college. Today, tours are available, and many of the rooms have ancient artifacts and decor, like the Armory and the Throne Room. Segovia is located about one hour by car from Madrid, so be sure to check it out with your car rental in Spain during your next vacation.
Klis Fortress – Split, Croatia
Klis Fortress is built into menacing a rocky hill near Split, Croatia and has stood there since the days of the Roman Empire. Built in roughly 300 B.C., it is inaccessible from 3 sides, and is one of the most formidable structures anyone has ever lived in. It has always held a major strategic value for whomever was in control of it, not only for safety, but for the ability to see advancing armies. It has served many purposes over the years, and you can learn way more about its truly fascinating history by taking one of the guided tours that are available year round.
Hohenzollern Castle – Hohenzollern, Germany
When you ask most people about German castles, nearly everyone will mention Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, but Hohenzollern is no less impressive. Originally built sometime in the 1200s, Hohenzollern Castle was completely destroyed after being besieged for more than a year in 1423. Construction of the second castle began in 1454, however it fell to ruins by the beginning of the 1800s. Construction of the current castle began in 1850, and it has stood ever since. One of the more scenic castles in Germany, it rests on the top of the aptly named Mount Hohenzollern, at an elevation of 2805 feet. Hohenzollern Castle may not have been made famous by Walt Disney, but it doesn’t make it any less magic of a location.
Hluboká nad Vltavou, Czech Republic
Surrounded by a beautiful English style park, Hluboka nad Vltavou is one of the most beautiful castles in the Czech Republic. This was a white castle long before the burger franchise! Tours are available where visitors will enjoy the history lessons found around every corner, which is what you get when you visit a castle that’s over 700 years old! There was even a scene filmed here that was featured in the 2003 buddy action comedy Shanghai Knights – a timeless movie in a timeless setting.