The Most Stunning Castles Around The World

Castles are some of the most beautiful and historical pieces of architecture in existence. From housing royalty to the ridiculously wealthy, castles have served as iconic masterpieces all around the globe. Though we may perceive castles as being of European origin, they first appeared in Egypt and China as a means of protecting and fortifying territories. Additionally, while many of the castles that are still in existence are found in Europe, they are not exclusive to the Western world. For example, the Matsumoto Castle in Japan is an amazing site to see, and being that it is one of the most complete castles in Japan, it is also one of the most visited.

From massive castles that stretch across acres of land to smaller, more isolated castles, there are far too many in existence to count. To that end, it is pretty difficult to be able to see them all, so it is important to know which ones are worth making plans to visit and see in person. In order to help narrow down your options, keep reading for House Digest's list of the most stunning castles around the world that you certainly won't want to miss!

The show-stopping Mont-Saint-Michel castle sits on an island

The Mont-Saint-Michel castle is known for being one of the most show-stopping sights in all of France. For centuries, this historic island served as a popular pilgrimage destination in Europe, making it more than just a pretty piece of architecture. According to local history, the castle was created by a bishop who claimed that the Archangel Michael influenced him to have the holy site built. Visitors of Mont-Saint-Michel will be able to spot the iconic castle from a decent ways away. Though the castle sits on an island, it is surrounded by a bay that is shared by Brittany and Normandy.

When it comes to getting to Mont-Saint-Michel, it actually is not quite as difficult as it may seem. Visitors simply need to park at the car park which is located about 1.5 miles from the castle. From there, tourists can take a shuttle, walk, or even book a special horse-drawn carriage ride to the main attraction. In addition to the castle itself, visitors will find some adorable hotels, restaurants, museums, and shops lining the main village street around the castle.

The pristine Himeji Castle is a Japanese gem

Located in Himeji, Japan, the Himeji Castle sits on a beautiful hilltop overlooking the Hyōgo Prefecture of Japan. Also known as the White Heron Castle, this white and elegant piece of architecture is made predominantly out of wood and was built between 1581 and 1609 C.E. Given its pristine appearance and well-kept makeup, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Himeji Castle is the best-preserved castle in the entirety of Japan. If you want to catch the local cherry blossom trees in their prime bloom, make sure to plan a visit around late April or early May.

Another stunning time to visit the unique castle is in the winter, when the snow has fallen and the white castle matches blankets of snow that surround it. Expect to be doing a decent amount of walking as it tends to take around 90 minutes to explore the whole castle. Plus, the attention to detail in the Himeji Castle is well-worth taking the time to notice and appreciate.

Bojnice Castle is one of central Europe's most popular

The Bojnice Castle is a fairytale-like structure that has become one of the most popular castles in all of central Europe. Located in Slovakia, this dramatic castle boasts steep palace roofs, stunning chapels, and tall towers. On the interior of the castle, visitors will find historical art and artifacts including the original furniture and art collection of the Pálffy family, which was the last noble family to actually live within the castle walls.

For those interested in the more paranormal side of life, the Bojnice Castle hosts the yearly International Festival of Ghosts and Spooks in the springtime, creating a fun and spooky environment for exploring the daunting yet beautiful castle. Another part of the Bojnice Castle that you won't want to miss is the 600-year-old lime tree that stands in front of the castle entrance. Planted by King Matthias, the massive lime tree has a trunk circumference of 12.5 meters.

The famous Windsor Castle is still occupied

Perhaps one of the most famous and well-known castles in existence, Windsor Castle is known as the biggest and oldest castle that is still occupied in the entire world. Though it was founded in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, it has since been called home by 39 different monarchs. In fact, Queen Elizabeth herself is said to spend most of her weekends at the castle in the Royal County of Berkshire.

With more than 50 royal and guest bedrooms, Windsor Castle truly is a majestic structure and architectural gem that is worth visiting. In addition to the previously mentioned bedrooms, there are another 188 staff bedrooms onsite, painting a clear picture of just how massive this castle really is. When it comes to art, visitors of the castle will have their breath taken away by the extensive collection, including the 16 iconic "pantomime pictures" created by teenage art student, Claude Whatham. The pantomime pictures depict characters such as Peter Pan and Cinderella, and they are incredibly unique and tasteful.

The Alhambra castle has exquisite décor and detailing

Getting its name from the Arabic word meaning "red castle," the Alhambra of Granada offers a view of the entire Spanish city along with the famous Granada meadow. The red-tinted walls of the castle along with its irregular shape make it one of the more distinctive and eccentric castles in Europe. Visitors to the fortress will find that nearly every inch of the castle is covered with décor and detailing, which was a major priority of the castle's architects.

In addition, the Alhambra was actually created with its own unique columns which are completely exclusive to the castle with no other buildings featuring them. To see some of the most decorative elements of the castle, including these very fine cylindrical columns, make sure to explore the Hall of the Abencerrajes and the Hall of the Two Sisters during your visit. There are several options for getting to the Alhambra which include walking, taking a bus, or driving in a private car and parking near the main entrance of the castle.

Vianden Castle has stunning Gothic and Romanesque architecture

Luxembourg's Vianden Castle was built atop the foundations of a Roman castle between the 11th and 14th century. As one of Europe's leading historical monuments, Vianden Castle has become a major hotspot for tourists over the years, and the Gothic and Romanesque architecture is a special site to bear witness to. Standing at a height of 1,020 feet above the town of Vianden and overlooking the River Our, Vianden Castle is most beautiful during the warmer months when the trees are lush and the skies are blue.

Though it came under state ownership in 1977, the large castle belonged to the Grand Ducal for many years. Being that the castle is only open from 10 am to 4 pm throughout the year, you'll want to make sure that you plan to hang outside the castle for a bit as the sun goes down in order to see the magnificent castle all lit up against the darkness.

Trakai Island Castle is surrounded by beautiful water

Truly one of the most unique and incredible castles on our list, the Trakai Island Castle in Lithuania sits on an island in the middle of Lake Galvė. While construction on this castle was started by Kęstutis, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, it was finished in 1430 by Vytautas the Great. Though the castle itself is a bit underwhelming with a relatively standard brick makeup, the fact that it is surrounded by the blue waters of Lake Galvė makes it special.

After Vytautas the Great made Trakai the capital of Lithuania, he moved Lithuania's state treasury there making the Trakai Island Castle a place of great importance. Following these changes, the castle became a residence for the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. Though the original castle was destroyed by a Russian army in 1655, the Island Castle's restoration began in 1953 and it was rebuilt in a way that maintained the original look and structure so that modern day visitors might get to experience the authentic Trakai Island Castle.

Hohenwerfen Castle is one of Austria's most beautiful

Standing on a steep peak above the Salzach Valley, the Hohenwerfen Castle is definitely one of the most pristine castles in Austria. Having been around for over 900 years, the Hohenwerfen Castle houses a unique history revolving around the Archbishops that lived there during the middle ages. With various classes and tours available for the whole family, the Hohenwerfen Castle is one of the most interactive and fun castles to bring children to.

The surrounding mountains create such a serene scene and you'll feel as though you are in the middle of a fantasy while exploring the castle grounds. Another unique and fun highlight of the Hohenwerfen Castle is their Regional Falconry Center where they host an amazing birds of prey show highlighting the flying skills of eagles, falcons, vultures, giving guests a glimpse into the medieval art of falconry. If this is something that you would like to prioritize during your visit, make sure to check their website for the dates and times of their falconry shows.

Corvin Castle is one of the biggest in all of Europe

One of the largest castles in all of Europe, Corvin Castle was originally built to act as a defense against the Ottoman Empire in the mid-1400s. Known as one of the seven wonders of Romania, the Corvin Castle is also the largest medieval castle in Transylvania. Though it is absolutely gorgeous, the castle itself definitely has a mysterious and somewhat darker edge due to its architecture and brick design. With all rectangular halls that are adorned with marble, it is no surprise that Corvin Castle receives hundreds of tourists a day.

Also called the Hunyadi Castle, this iconic fortress has a rich history that is filled with conspiracy and scandal. It is even rumored to be the site of where Romanian hero Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned while exiled. Corvin Castle has also played a huge role in media, acting as inspiration for the famous "Dracula" novel by Bram Stoker; it even has been featured in various television shows and video games such as "Most Haunted Live!" and "Dragonheart: Battle of the Heartfire."

Hluboká Castle transports you into a fairytale

The Hluboká Castle is considered one of the most beautiful and special castles in the Czech Republic. Between the original furnishing and expansive surrounding park, the Hluboká Castle is also said to be one of the most Romantic monuments in the entire world, beyond Europe. Whether you choose to visit in the warmer months when the grass is bright green and the vegetation is flourishing, or in the winter when the white castle is covered in a blanket of white snow, the Hluboká Castle truly transports you into the middle of a fairytale.

Though it received a romantic reconstruction in the mid-19th century, the castle had previously been built in the Baroque style in the beginning of the 19th century. From the historical paintings to the Delft pottery, guests of the Hluboká Castle will find immense joy in the authentic and well-preserved atmosphere that the castle provides. Guests are even able to explore the private rooms of the castle's last owners, Prince Adolf and his wife Hilda.

Matsumoto Castle is the perfect place to see cherry blossoms bloom

Known as a "hirajiro" castle, the famous Matsumoto Castle in Japan sits on a flat plain rather than a hilltop or mountain. Built from 1592 to 1614, Matsumoto Castle is one of the most visited and beloved castles in Japan, and the wooden interior of the fortress is absolutely stunning. The authentic Japanese architecture and build sets this castle apart from its more European counterparts, giving the eyes an entirely different perspective on castles.

Similarly to Himeji Castle, Matsumoto Castle is a great place for catching the country's iconic cherry blossoms in bloom; it is a truly romantic and idyllic sight unlike any other. The expansive castle grounds at Matsumoto are perfect for exploring and strolling through gardens, too. Thankfully, getting to Matsumoto castle is a bit easier than most since it rests on a plain. Simply take a 15 minute walk or a five minute bus ride from the JR Matsumoto Station and pay 700 yen to see the castle up close and personal.

Pena National Palace is the 'renowned jewel' of Portugal

Located in Sintra, Portugal, the Pena National Palace stands proudly in all of its colorful glory on top of a hill in the Sintra Mountains. The castle is nearly impossible to miss with its bright yellow and red coloring along with its unique and intricate architecture. In fact, on a clear day, it can even be seen from its neighboring town of Lisbon. The Pena Palace is even considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal and is known as the "renowned jewel" of the country.

The castle was created during the peak of Romanticism in Portugal, and it will forever be associated with the legacy of King Ferdinand II, who has been coined as the King Artist due to his creative eye and talent. During a visit to the Pena Palace, it is important to pay attention to all of the special artifacts and items that you'll find in the dining room and pantry, along with the Chambers of King Carlos. If you're an architecture fanatic, you'll also find much joy while exploring the Manueline Cloister which features gorgeous archways and tiling.

Neuschwanstein Castle inspired the Disney Castles

Known as one of the most popular castles in Europe, the Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Germany is truly something straight out of a fairytale. With more than 1.4 million people visiting every year, this is definitely a castle that history lovers and storybook dreamers don't want to miss out on. Being that it is situated on top of an idyllic hill in the middle of a green forest, the setting of Neuschwanstein Castle couldn't be more stunning. In fact, according to Discovery, the Neuschwanstein Castle actually served as inspiration for Walt Disney while he was designing the castles in both Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.

Despite the fact that photography is not permitted while inside the castle, it is still one of the most photographed buildings in the entire world, proving that its beauty is nearly universal and undeniable. Though a tour of the castle is only possible with a guided tour, visitors of this castle will be able to learn all about the unique and rich history behind the castle's creator, King Ludwig II, and the village of Hohenschwangau which sits under the castle.