From quarantine-induced wanderlust to getting hooked on Netflix’s Bridgerton, chances are you’ve been lost in regal daydreams featuring dazzling ball gowns, dramatic hairstyles and even bigger castles (and yes, maybe a Duke of Hastings serenade, too). While you’re in that mindset, here are a few of the most enchanting castles in the world we would love to rule.
Windsor Castle, England
The weekend home of Queen Elizabeth II, Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. The grounds include several houses and St. George’s Chapel, which was the chosen wedding venue of many royal couples, including Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex. The castle is also home to the world’s most elaborate dollhouse designed for Queen Mary in the 1920s, featuring running water, electric lights, working elevators and a fully-stocked 1,200-piece wine cellar with wine and beer.
Himeji Castle, Japan
Built as a fortress by samurai warrior Akamatsu Norimura in 1333, Himeji rises above the Inland Sea and is both a Japanese national treasure and World Heritage Site. The castle is a highly popular tourist attraction known not only for its gorgeous architecture but also its stunning cherry blossom spot. Also known as White Heron Castle because of its resemblance to a great bird taking flight, it was surprisingly never touched by war or natural disasters and stands today as one of Japan’s 12 original castles.
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Glamis Castle, Scotland
Known as the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Glamis Castle is said to be the most haunted castle in the world. The childhood home of the Queen Mother is known to be riddled with secret passageways and ghosts, the most famous being the “Monster of Glamis” — Lady and Lord Glamis’ eldest son, Thomas Bowes-Lyon. Records show the boy was born with physical deformities and died on the same day of his birth, although many believe the family faked his death and had him locked away in a hidden room. Thomas is thought to haunt the castle grounds and a section of parapets known as “The Mad Earl’s Walk.” Yikes.
Prague Castle, Czech Republic
According to the Guinness World Records, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world. The grounds hold a complexity of sights including The Old Royal Palace, Queen Anne’s Summer Palace, the St. Vitus Cathedral and the St. George’s Basilica. The least accessible place in the castle is the crown chamber, which holds the Czech Coronation Jewels behind two doors with seven locks that can only be opened if the holders of all seven keys get together.
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Blarney Castle, Ireland
This stunning Irish castle is famous for its Blarney Stone, believed to give the gift of eloquence once kissed. Tourists visiting the castle are welcome to casually grab onto a railing and hang upside-down (but on your back!) over a sheer drop to kiss the stone. According to the castle’s proprietors, the ritual has been performed by “millions of people”, including “world statesmen, literary giants [and] legends of the silver screen.”
Bojnice Castle, Slovakia
Despite Bojnice’s small population of 5,000, it’s home to some of Slovakia’s most famous tourist attractions including this fairytale Romanesque castle, beloved for its light pink sandstone towers and original Gothic and Renaissance elements. The castle events attract thousands of people every year, including the International Festival of Ghosts and Christmas at the Castle.
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Built on top of an extinct volcano, the royal castle has been standing since the 12th century. It has been subject to 26 sieges throughout its entire history which makes it the most besieged fortress in all of Great Britain as well as one of the most attacked places in the entire world. It is therefore known as “the defender of the nation” and serves as an active military base.
Château de Chenonceau, France
This beautiful French château is also known as the Ladies Castle, because it owes its existence to a couple of prominent women who built it and protected it from war. The original owner was Katherine Briçonnet, who stepped up to oversee the construction of the castle after her husband passed away, and had it built in grand Renaissance style spanning the River Cher, which gives the illusion of the castle floating on water.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
One of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, Neuschwanstein Castle is the ultimate fairytale castle – located in a magnificent landscape in the Alps in Bavaria and built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, also known as the “Fairytale King.” As if that wasn’t enough, the castle also served as the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s iconic castle.
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Known as ‘The Castle In Love with the Wind’, this breathtaking castle was the result of architect Georgi Tumpalov’s childhood dream — to build a real life magic castle. It took him just 20 years to build the stunning landmark using 20,000 tons of stone extracted from the Strandzha Mountains. The traces of micro diamonds in the architecture means the castle changes colour — in the morning it is pink, during the day, it becomes white and at full moon it glows. However, the thing that makes this castle the most magical is that it has the shape of a crest, which symbolizes trust, love and commitment.