10 Incredible Castles Around the World

Published Date: April 17, 2011  - Category: Blogging  - Views: 896  .

Everyone knows about the Palace of Versailles in France, the Tower of London in England and the Forbidden City in China—and for good reason. These famous estates are awe-inspiring works of architectural mastery, not to mention historical goldmines.

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Everyone knows about the Palace of Versailles in France, the Tower of London in England and the Forbidden City in China—and for good reason. These famous estates are awe-inspiring works of architectural mastery, not to mention historical goldmines. Although these sites are some of the most famous, they’re not the only destinations deserving recognition, which is why we decided to look past the tried-and-true and seek out other amazing structures. From Dracula's Castle in Romania to the Hearst Castle in California, here are 10 palatial spaces that are sure to inspire.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Even if you've never been to Germany, you might recognize this castle—it was the model for Disney's Sleeping Beauty castle. Neuschwanstein sits overlooking the Pöllat gorge in Bavaria, close to the German-Austrian border, and was built by King Ludwig II to pay homage to the operas of Richard Wagner. Built to look Medieval, the castle was equipped with state-of-the-art technology for the time: toilets with automatic flushing systems, air heating systems and water supplied by a nearby spring. While the foundation stone was set in 1869, the castle wasn't yet completed when King Ludwig died. It was opened to the public seven weeks later in 1886.

Mont Saint Michel, France


Set atop a tiny islet in the English Channel, a mile off the coast of Normandy in northwestern France, is the famed castle-like Gothic abbey. According to legend, the first monastic building was constructed on the island in 708, after the Archangel Michael appeared to St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches, and instructed him to build a church there. Nowadays, after entering through the Boulevard Gate, three million visitors per year find museums, shops and houses dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries as well as sweeping views from the grand staircase of the abbey church. The site, which celebrated its 1000th monastic anniversary in 1966, was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979.

Hearst Castle, California


Situated on California’s central coast in San Simeon, Hearst Castle was the brainchild of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Started in 1919, the sprawling complex took more than 30 years to complete. In 1957, six years after Hearst died, the Hearst Corporation donated the property to the state of California. The 250,000-acre property is open to the public year-round, with various guided tours of the 115-room Mediterranean Revival–style main house, three guesthouses, two immaculate pools, eight acres of cultivated gardens and Hearst's significant art and antiques collection.

Bunratty Castle, Ireland


Bunratty Castle in North Munster, Ireland, is the last of four castles situated on what originally was a Viking trading camp dating back to 970. The first three castles, built between 1250 and 1353, were destroyed in conflicts. The present castle was built in 1425 by the McNamara family and was passed to various tenants until it fell into disrepair. It was restored by Lord Gort, who purchased it in 1954 and opened it to the public in 1960. It is now the most furnished and authentically restored castle in Ireland, with over 450 items of medieval furniture and artifacts. In addition to touring the castle, guests can visit the nearby 19th-century Folk Park period village or spend an evening at the castle for a medieval banquet.

Windsor Castle, England


The almost 1,000-year-old Windsor castle, one of the residences of the Queen of England, is the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world. Situated on 26 acres of land, the castle was originally built by William the Conqueror in the 1070s to defend the route to the Tower of London. Today, tourists can visit the State Apartments, which are decked out in art by Rembrandt, Rubens, Canaletto and Gainsborough, as well as St. George's Chapel, where 10 sovereigns are entombed, including Henry VIII. The most popular tourist attraction, however, is the changing of the guard, which occurs at 11 a.m. on a seasonally changing schedule.

Potala Palace, Tibet

Built on Red Mountain in the middle of Lhasa Valley, Tibet, Potala Palace was the winter palace of the Dalai Lama from the 7th century until 1959, when the current Dalai Lama fled the country. The complex includes more than 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and nearly 200,000 statues. It’s divided into Potrang Karpo, the “White Palace,” which was completed in 1648, and Potrang Marpo, the "Red Palace," built in 1694, which houses several chapels, sacred statues and the tombs of eight Dalai Lamas. Added to the UNESCO list of world heritage sites in 1994, Potala Palace is still a major pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists to this day.

Himeji Castle, Japan


Himeji Castle, also known as the "White Fortress," is considered the best-preserved 17th-century castle in Japan. The massive compound, which was begun in 1346 by Akamatsu Sadanori to defend against local shoguns, includes 83 buildings, the last of which were built around 1610. Ironically, Himeji Castle was never actually used in battle, which is why it is in such good shape today. The main donjon has seven floors, the eastern and western towers have four floors and the northwestern tower has five floors. In addition to the main complex, there are several other buildings at Himeji Castle, which serve as residences and storehouses. In 1931 it was designated a national Japanese treasure and in 1993 it was put on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Chapultepec Castle, Mexico

Chapultepec Castle, located at the top of Chapultepec Hill on the outskirts of Mexico City, has been a residence for Mexican rulers since the 14th century, when Nezahualcoyotl, King of Texcoco, ordered it be built near natural springs in the area. In the 16th century it was taken over by the Spanish, after which it was used as hunting grounds, a public park and a Royal Palace. In 1944, the castle was rebranded as the National History Museum. Today, visitors can view the memorabilia of Mexico's history from the Conquest to Revolutionary periods as well as the presidential chambers and a magnificent panorama of Mexico City, which can be viewed from the terraces.

Bran Castle, Romania


Situated near Bran, Romania, this national monument and landmark lies between Transylvania and Wallachia. Commonly known as Dracula's Castle, this 14th-century fortress is where, in 1462, the Hungarian army captured Vlad the Impaler—the man who inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula character—and imprisoned him for almost two months. The 57-room Medieval-style castle, which draws up to 450,000 visitors a year, sits atop a 200-foot-tall precipice overlooking the village of Bran, while the rooms and towers surround an inner courtyard. Adding to the spookiness of the site are the underground passageways that connect many of the rooms, and the seven-acre forest that surrounds the property.

The Alcázar of Segovia, Spain


Central Spain is home to the impressive stone-walled Segovia Castle, which sits nearby the Eresma River and has been used as a fortress, royal residence, military academy and even a state prison. The structure is believed to have been built as a fortress during the Roman occupation and is where Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand met for the first time. It's also the location where King Philip II married his wife, Anne of Austria. Today, the Alcázar is one of the most popular historical sights in Spain, attracting visitors who clamor to see the Hall of Ajimeces, which houses an array of artwork, the Hall of the Throne and the Hall of Kings. Visitors can also climb more than 150 narrow, winding stairs to get to the Juan II tower for breathtaking views of Segovia.

 
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Comments

Dimag ki batti

Commented on 04/29/2011

অদ্ভুত ! (Odvuuuuuut). ....................... This Bengali word means so nice.