5 European Castles to Explore

posted by Sharon June 3, 2018 54 Comments
Tower of London

Europe is known for an abundance of castles. In my home country, the U.S., we are too new to have participated in the era of castles, so I’m always fascinated to find them in my travels. The concept of the castle is that it protects whoever is lives inside, with thick walls, gates, sometimes a moat, and maybe elements of a fortress. A castle can be a complex of buildings. You can find historic castles in all states of disrepair and restoration and in all sizes. Here are 5 that I have enjoyed exploring — and I think you would, too!

The Tower of London

Tower of LondonTower of LondonThis castle is likely the most well known real castle in Europe. William the Conqueror built the White Tower after his military victory in 1066. He chose this spot on the Thames River as ideal for a fortress, as well as a residence.  A part of the old wall still exists. Tower of London

The Tower of London has been expanded through the centuries. It’s famous for the prison built near the residence, and for its prisoner Anne Boleyn, one of the wives of Henry VIII, who lost her head in the courtyard. The Crown Jewels are housed here, too. The castle is staffed and guarded by the Beefeaters, who also give informative and funny tours. Tower of London

Tower of LondonBe sure to notice what was the moat surrounding the walls. No water fills it today, but the green lawn testifies to the era when it was used as a sewer for the castle. Tower of London

Allow a morning or afternoon to wander this fine castle. And arrive early if possible to beat the crowds. Tower of London

Burg Rheinfels, Germany

In contrast to the restored and maintained castles is the ruin of the Rheinfels Castle in Germany. Built in 1275, this castle towers over the tiny town of St. Goar. Rheinfels Castle

St GoarIt housed Counts and stood for centuries as an impregnable fortress. Finally, in 1796, French troops breached the walls and then blew it up. The outlines of the rock walls stand, and you can wander and climb all you want. Rheinfels Castle

Rheinfels CastleRheinfels CastleRheinfels CastleNuremberg Castle

The castle in the old town section of Nuremberg was built in sections from the year 1037 on. German kings traveled from castle to castle, having no permanent residence, so for centuries this castle housed royalty. Much of the castle fell victim to WWII bombs, but it has been rebuilt in the original style. It hugs a section of medieval wall that still circles the town. Nuremberg Germany

Nuremberg GermanyWalking up to the entrance, you can imagine you are living here centuries ago. The courtyard is small but appealing. A museum houses artifacts from past centuries. Nuremberg Germany

Nuremberg GermanyNuremberg GermanyIf you visit, you will want to climb the restored winding stairway up to the tower because — the view, of course!Nuremberg Germany

Nuremberg GermanyNuremberg Germany

Ambras Castle in Innsbruck

This castle and palace complex are not well known, but when we traveled to the delightful city of Innsbruck, we knew we wanted to visit here. This shares the common characteristic of many castles of being built on a hill over a city or river, to get a vantage point for spotting an enemy approach. Innsbruck Ambras Castle

It has been restored to its 16th century glory, so you’ll enjoy the elegance of the architecture.

Innsbruck Ambras CastleInnsbruck Ambras Castle Innsbruck Ambras CastleThe Ambras Castle, like many, has a museum with displays that depict life in its heyday. My favorites here were the unusual antique piano and a display of books. Innsbruck Ambras Castle

My favorite display is of the armor collected by Archduke Ferdinand II. His motivation was to show the role of the Habsburgs in winning battles. His own private armor is part of the collection. The display rooms in the castle use natural light to show off the collection. The Archduke produced an illustrated inventory of the weapons and armor, which is the first known museum catalogue. Innsbruck Ambras Castle

 

 

 

Innsbruck Ambras CastleNot only are the buildings and grounds here beautiful, but Ambras Castle is also surrounded by lovely forest. Innsbruck Ambras CastleInnsbruck Ambras Castle

Prague Castle

Prague Castle is a sprawling set of buildings set high on the hill above Prague’s Old Town. Royal and religious structures have stood here since the 9th century. Today, it is home to the official office of the President of the Czech Republic. It is guarded much like the Tower of London. Prague Castle

Once in the walls of the castle, you will find architecture of different styles spanning about 1,000 years.  Prague Castle

While castles often have a chapel, usually it is small and sometimes part of a larger building. At Prague Castle, the St. Vitus cathedral dominates and is visible from far away. Prague Castle

Prague CastleYou can climb the many winding steps to the dome that houses the cathedral bells. The view from here takes in the Old Town of Prague, the Vlatava River, and the iconic Charles Bridge. The red roofs of Prague are stunning.

Prague Castle

Prague CastlePrague Castle also has large gardens, complete with a view.  Here you can clearly see parts of the castle wall. Prague Castle

Prague CastleThese are some of my favorite castles so far. I plan to tour more this summer! I love seeing the differences among the similarities. How about you? Have a toured a castle that stands out in your mind? What appealed to you most?

Linking up with Image-in-ing, Monday Escapes, Monday Murals, Pictorial Tuesday, Little Things ThursdayWednesday Around the WorldThe Good, the Random, the Fun, Through My Lens, Seasons, Our World Tuesday, Photo Friday, Travel Photo Thursday, City Tripping, Weekend Wanderlust, Faraway Files, The Weekly Postcard, Wanderful Wednesday, Feet Do Travel, Weekend Wanderlust, and Weekend Travel Inspiration. Weekend Wanderlust

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54 Comments

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Margy June 3, 2018 at 4:18 pm

Castles are such unique structures. The ability to build such detail with the tools of the time amazes me. – Margy

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Tamar Strauss-Benjamin June 3, 2018 at 4:38 pm

Oh swoon!! I could live in one of those (:

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Su-sieee! Mac June 3, 2018 at 6:12 pm

That was fun checking out the castles you visited. I didn’t know the moat acted as a sewer. The castle royalty were brewing their own means of demise. lol I’ve never visited a castle unless Hearst Castle in California counta, unless the Uffizi Gallery in Florence was once part of a castle. The hallways and rooms were amazing.

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Kelleyn Rothaermel June 4, 2018 at 12:26 am

Sadly we never got back to Nuremberg! We were there at Christmas and wanted to go back when it was warmer, but just not enough time before we go back. I guess it will have to wait for future travels.

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Anna June 4, 2018 at 3:18 am

My favorite has to be Neuschwanstein in Germany. It’s different from the Prague Castle (for example) as it was a single residence, rather than a castle town. #mondayescapes

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Carol June 4, 2018 at 6:09 am

Thank you for your magnificent collection of castles – I’ve always had a thing for them and have not traveled the world like you. I am so happy visiting these monuments to the past with you.

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image-in-ing: weekly photo linkup June 4, 2018 at 7:31 am

Gorgeous photos. Like you, I think castles are fascinating.
Thanks for sharing at https://www.wral.com/trump-lawyer-plays-down-chance-president-would-self-pardon/17602419/

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image-in-ing: weekly photo linkup June 4, 2018 at 7:33 am

Sorry for typing the wrong link above – I had just shared an article about our megalomaniac president. What I MEANT to say was “thanks for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2018/06/the-retreat-house.html

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Indah Nuria June 4, 2018 at 7:43 am

Those are beautiful castles indeed. I have visited some of them and not all. Happy to go back to Europe and explore more.

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Mandy June 4, 2018 at 8:40 am

Beautiful castle images. I think you skipped Neuschwanstein though!

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Jane @ Raincity Librarian June 4, 2018 at 8:46 am

I’m currently planning my first-ever trip to Europe, so these beautiful castles are getting me so excited!!

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Skyler (Learningbrave) June 4, 2018 at 9:12 am

I have been to all of these but one – the castle in Innsbruck. I am from Australia and so I totally understand the fascination with history that does not exist in my own country. Each of these castles is unique, interesting and so beautiful! My kids particularly loved climbing around Rheinfels castle in Germany, they bought swords and pretended to be knights!

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Jesh StG June 4, 2018 at 10:26 am

These are all quite beautiful, still after centuries – even the ruins! love your capture of the stairwell, and the reality check of the soldier with rifle in hand at the Prague castle! Where is a photo of you, my friend? Hope you have one:) Many thanks for sharing your favorite details of these castles with All Seasons, and have a beautiful week (hope not too hot – it got 91 degr. here yesterday!).

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Angharad Paull June 4, 2018 at 11:06 am

These castles look beautiful and your blog has given me lots of ideas for future trips with my princess-loving, castle mad daughters!

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Lydia C. Lee June 4, 2018 at 12:18 pm

We have no castles so I have to say, I just love them!! So exotic!

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Sarah Christie June 4, 2018 at 1:23 pm

Oh I love this post I adore the Tower Of London its such a beautiful place you almost dont feel like you are in a city when you are in there. But omg Nuremberg castle looks breathtaking this is now on the list, thanks so much for linking up #MondayEscapes x

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Sarah Christie June 4, 2018 at 1:24 pm

Oh I love this post I adore the Tower Of London its such a beautiful place you almost don’t feel like you are in a city when you are in there. But omg Nuremberg castle looks breathtaking this is now on the list, thanks so much for linking up #MondayEscapes x

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betty - NZ June 4, 2018 at 2:38 pm

I love castles! Thanks for sharing these awesome photos and tips!

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Joyful June 4, 2018 at 8:09 pm

Awesome photos. Prague is such a beautiful city.

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Angie June 4, 2018 at 8:20 pm

We have visited many castles, and one of our favorites is Warwick Castle in England. It has a lengthy history (as most castles do) including evolutions in style. But my best story about Warwick is one visit when they were demonstrating a trebuchet, and told us that they had once used it to launch a mini-Cooper into the air!

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Lady Fi June 4, 2018 at 8:39 pm

What beautiful shots!

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Photo Cache June 5, 2018 at 6:31 am

I am 0/5 here. I wish to see any or all of these castles in my lifetime.

Worth a Thousand Words

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Tanja/The Red Phone Box travels June 5, 2018 at 12:32 pm

I visited the Tower and the Prague castle:) #citytripping

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Bryna | Dotted Line Travels June 5, 2018 at 8:03 pm

I love your photos, as per usual! And although they all seem like great castles to explore, I really want to visit Prague Castle. The architecture of the cathedral – wow!

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Molly June 6, 2018 at 2:58 am

The Tower of London is such a brilliant place

Mollyx

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Sara June 6, 2018 at 4:42 am

Prague Castle and the Tower of London are two my favorite castles! I love the Tower because I think the Beefeater tours are hilarious, but St. Vitus was one of the most beautiful parts of Prague in my opinion!

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Sarah June 6, 2018 at 6:03 am

I love the Prague Castle, it is so iconic, I am not a castle pro by any means but I can still recognize its dark architecture in every photo! This is a great list, I need to go to the other 4 castles now!

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California Globetrotter June 6, 2018 at 11:29 am

All beautiful castles and I can say that I’ve been to all of them except Ambras Castle! St. Goar is near the Loreley Statue which I recommend visiting next time, if you haven’t already seen it! #CityTripping

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Rhonda Albom June 6, 2018 at 1:07 pm

I loved my tour of the Tower of London. The Beefeater guide was hilarious but he did not tell us why the old mat area was so lush and green. There are so many castles in Europe that it’s hard to pick a favourite. I enjoyed Alnwick Castle in the U.K. and the castle at Carcassone although I wish I had visited when it was less than 41C.

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Jessi (Two Feet, One World) June 6, 2018 at 9:07 pm

I love how different these all are! I also really liked Prague Castle – I would love to visit Rheinfels, it looks so beautiful! One of my favourites in the UK is Hever Castle which was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, mainly because its gardens are incredible.

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Linda Bibb June 7, 2018 at 12:01 am

Well, I can check off 3 of the 5 … Tower of London, Nuremberg, Prague. I think the Tower is my favorite of the three. May have passed Burg Rheinfels on our Rhine cruise, but the only Rhine castles I can attest to having visited are Marksburg and Heidelberg. As to Innsbruck, not yet; we’ve yet to venture further in Austria than a day in Vienna.

In any case, Europe is loaded with more castles that a person can probably see in one lifetime. I think that’s one of the reasons I like visiting it so much. Besides, most of those castles have absolutely stunning gardens, and even when the castles start to merge together in my mind, the landscaping keeps me inspired.

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Elizabeth (Wander Mum) June 7, 2018 at 9:09 pm

Great choices Sharon! I didn’t know about the one in Innsbruck. We recently went to the UK’s Warwick castle and loved it. There’s just so much history to absorb from castles and being within its walls and imagining what went on there is fascinating. Thanks for linking #citytripping

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Michelle June 7, 2018 at 11:03 pm

Such lovely photos, Sharon! Europe is definitely a great place to be if you’re a castle-lover 🙂 I saw some pretty cool ones in Italy recently, in the Vicenza area. Gorgeous!

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Emese June 8, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Beautiful photos of these castles, Sharon! I loved the Tower of London when I toured it years ago with my kids; the Castle of Prague was another one of my favorite castles off your list. I grew up around medieval castles in Transylvania, we pretty much had one in every other town, but they were all in disrepair at the time; I still love their history. Some of them are renovated and opened up for visitors now and they are spectacular, most on a smaller scale though.

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Katy June 8, 2018 at 1:48 pm

As we have no castles in Australia I have always been fascinated by them. Great photos and insight Sharon, What’s next on your list? #FarawayFiles

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Wendy Maes June 9, 2018 at 2:17 am

I love castles! I have seen all of them, except Ambras. When I am in Germany I will go there for sure. Thanks for sharing. “#TheWeeklypostcard

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Anisa June 9, 2018 at 4:23 am

I love castles but haven’t been to any of the ones in Germany yet, it is definitely on the list. I think my favorite castle that I have visited so far is Windsor castle.

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Vanessa June 9, 2018 at 5:08 am

I loved Ambras Castle in Innsbruck! Visited it when I was a kid and it seemed so magical!

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Travel Lexx June 9, 2018 at 8:39 am

I love castles – there is something so exciting about exploring them, regardless of whether they are intact or lie in ruins. It’s a mix of history and romance for me. I have managed Nurnberg and Prague and I am going to count Tower of London as I’ve seen it from outside many times! Thanks for sharing

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Jill June 10, 2018 at 4:58 am

I’ve not been to any of these castles – but I am looking forward to a trip to Bavaria and it’s castles this fall. Fantastic photos – and I love the back stories of all of them. #weekendwanderlust

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Nikki - Notes of Life June 10, 2018 at 9:32 am

A great round-up of castles! We do have quite a few castles here in the UK… mostly ones in ruins, but there are some lovely castles still with residents too.

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Goblinette June 10, 2018 at 1:20 pm

I love castles. Haven’t seen any from your list, but loved the ones we visited in Scotland and Austria. In Slovenia Predjama castle is something special. weekendwanderlust

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Marie-OR June 10, 2018 at 3:14 pm

Wonderful array of fabulous castles! I love reading about their histories!

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Charlotte June 11, 2018 at 7:33 am

Great choice of castles, definately sime worth visiting there! Prague being my number one favorite

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Urska | sliva June 11, 2018 at 11:06 pm

Ohh I love castles, they are so magnificent. I really like when the castle hosts events where they show how a life on castles in the Middle Age looked like.

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Stephanie (1AdventureTraveler) June 13, 2018 at 5:54 am

Amazing European Castles in Europe. I just love visiting castles and image about the people that occupied them. My favorite of the five is the Prague Castle. I have been there a few times but never get tired of visiting. Great photos and thanks for sharing. #feetdotravel

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Lisa June 13, 2018 at 10:09 am

Oh wow – all those castles look so dreamy!!!

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Anna June 13, 2018 at 12:56 pm

Haven’t been to Ambras Castle in Innsbruck and Burg Rheinfels in Germany! Exploring old castles is one of my favorite travel experiences ever! Added to my travel bucket list #TheWeeklyPostcard

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Rob+Ann @TravelLatte(.net) June 13, 2018 at 2:40 pm

We could easily – and happily – spend every vacation exploring castles! These are all lovely, but we are really attracted to Prague Castle. You’re right about Ambras Castle – we had not heard of it, but what a view! Definitely saving this for later. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard!

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Angie (FeetDoTravel) June 13, 2018 at 3:36 pm

I love castles too!! Great lick here, I’m from the UK and the Tower of London is just a must-see! Ridiculous amount of history here! Nuremberg looks so interesting as well, the paintings were a surprise! Pinned #feetdotravel

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David June 15, 2018 at 4:38 am

Visiting castles is one of my favourite things to do in Europe and yet I’ve only been to Prague Castle of these! I just know that my next trip to Germany is going to be full of castle visits, and will definitely have to include Burg Rheinfels and Nuremberg. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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Eileen June 16, 2018 at 1:05 am

Hello, I would love to visit all the castles, I have been to the Tower of London and Windsor Castle. Ireland and Germany is on my wish list. Wonderful post and photos. Enjoy your day! PS, thanks for visiting my blog.

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Shruti Prabhu June 24, 2018 at 8:16 pm

Castles make me feel like a little girl again! Wanting to be a princess. Love how pretty the Prague castle is. The tower of London for some reason never really struck me as beautiful. Maybe because I lived in London and passed it everyday on my way to work.

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Kate Lewis June 25, 2018 at 3:26 am

Ooh I still haven’t visited the tower of London – and it’s on my doorstep. Must do it!

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