No trip to Europe would be complete without visits to a number of the classic castles which dot the landscape. These fascinating structures, displaying a variety of styles and details, recall a dangerous period of time in the world, where threat of attack from myriad enemies was a constant worry. Castles were built to protect the lords of the region and were designed to be formidable obstacles to conquering invaders.
Many of these castles have survived to the present day, some relatively intact, others in ruins. They are great fun to visit because they illustrate a long-gone era that has established itself in history. There are literally thousands of castles strewn across the continent, but there are some which have captured the fancy of travelers over the years and have become significant tourist attractions. Here are some of my favorite European castles:
In London, England, one of the most storied castles in all Europe is the Tower of London
Southeast of London, Leeds Castle is a quintessential example, complete with moat
Its entrance looks like this
Northwest of London is another fine castle, in the city of Warwick.
In Scotland, Edinburgh Castle is the most famous in the country.
The ruins of Urquhart Castle overlook the infamous Loch Ness.
Mainland Europe is populated throughout with castles. In France you can see William the Conqueror’s castle, in the city of Caen, his residence before he won the Battle of Hastings and ruled Britain.
Many villages had a castle on the hill, designed to protect the landowner and his serfs, as we find here in Ribeauville, in the Alsace Region.
Germany contains an incredible number of castles, and some of these are recognized throughout the world as fine examples of this period of history.
Neuschwanstein, at the southern terminus of the Romantic Road, is one of the most famous castles in the world. It was built by “Mad King” Ludwig and later served as a model for Cinderella’s Castle in Disney World.
Perhaps the classic view of this castle can be seen from St Mary’s Bridge.
Nearby is the castle in which Ludwig was born, a place called Hohenschwangau..