Europe is famed for its fascinating and varied history, spanning a huge period of time and leaving behind many physical reminders of ages gone by. Many of these include grand castles, palaces and royal buildings which are dotted throughout most countries on the continent. Visiting all of them may be almost impossible, but here are just a few of the best places to see.
Neuschwanstein Castle – Germany
Bearing a striking resemblance to the classic Disney castle, this fairytale royal home is one of Europe’s most iconic and it would seem wrong to start our list with anything else. Dominating the landscape from its raised pedestal in the Bavarian forest, Neuschwanstein welcomes nearly 1.5 million tourists every year.
Château de Chambord – France
Incredibly, this extravagant castle was only constructed as a symbol of power, and was used as an elaborate show home but not properly lived in by its owner, François I, for more than a few days in total. The king’s grand design was completed in 1519, and is one of only a few French palaces which remains almost entirely the same today.
Palace of Pena – Portugal
Alongside the famous ruins of Sintra, not far from the capital of Lisbon, this impressive and colourful Portuguese palace dates from the 19th century. Although the building itself is truly unique and inspiring, the grounds were designed to be almost equally impressive, boasting hundreds of different types of trees.
Eltz Castle – Germany
The Germans really love their fairytale-inspired castles, and this beautiful example has sat in the heart of Eltz Forest for close to 900 years. Its wonderful blue roof tiles and timber-framed towers are immaculately maintained, so they look just as impressive as they would have in the Middle Ages.
Windsor Castle – England
As British castles and palaces go, you may find yourself somewhat spoilt for choice, with impressive royal homes from across the centuries dotted throughout the country. However, one of the most immaculate and impressive examples is Windsor Castle, which holds the impressive record for being both the oldest and the largest castle in the world to still serve as a reigning monarch’s official home. When The Queen isn’t at home, however, part of the castle is open to the public and is one of the finest examples in Europe.