There are many stunning castles and château, here are just 6 which inspired onlookers and visitors.
1. Castel Sant’ Angelo
Built in 134AD, and sometimes referred to as Hadrian’s Tomb, Castel Sant’Angelo was not always crowned by the now-ichonic Statue of Archangel Michael. Guarding over the Tiber River, Castel Sant’Angelo’s become synonymous as a symbol of protection in Rome.
According to legend, the statue was added in 590AD, centuries after the tombs construction, during the great plague. The then-new Pontiff, Pope Gregory, lead a procession through the streets of Rome appealing to God to lift the city from the ravages of the spreading illness. During the procession Pope Gregory was said to be struck with a vision of the Archangel Michael standing atop Sant’Angelo, sheathing his sword (as the statue depicts) indicating to Pope Gregory that the plague would soon be lifted. The statue was erected and soon after a new myth was born, that of Archangel Michael as the cities divine protector and so long as he was visible atop the Castel, Rome would be protected for all days to come.
Nowadays, the familiar Castel Sant’Angelo serves as a museum and backdrop to Hollywood blockbusters. The current statue is a replacement added in the 18th century.
2. The Swallow’s Nest
While not as old as Sant’Angelo the Swallow’s Nest, built in 1912, sits atop the Aurora Cliffs in Crimea.
The stunning architecture has appeared as the backdrop in countless films from the Soviet Era and the path leading to the Swallow’s Nest is given the name Tsar’s Path. The breathtaking landscape around the area is largely thought of as the most beautiful in the region. Even in still photography it is easy to see why this Castle has inspired. Architecturally striking, balancing ancient tradition with 19th century vision, the Castel now houses a restaurant and underwent significant repairs in 2011. It remains open to the public.
3. Dover Castle
While some would find Dover Castle as architecturally pleasing as a pile of stacked matchboxes, it is perhaps the long history of Castle Dover that inspires more than anything.
Built in the 12th century, Castle Dover was once though of as ‘the Key to England’ for it’s defensive role it’s played throughout history, including during the Baron’s War, the English Civil War, Napoleonic Wars, and WW2, when the Castle housed air-raid shelters, command-and-control facilities, even a hospital.
After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror marched his forces through Dover on his way to Coronation.
Today, Castle Dover is a nationally historic buildings with government protections overseeing the modification or alteration of the structure. The grounds and buildings are a major tourist attraction bringing in hundreds of thousands of tourist per year. The English Heritage Society has spent £2.45 million recreating the castle’s interior over the last decade. It remains the largest castle in England.
4. Eilean Donan Castle
In the Scottish Highlands, on a small tidal island at the junction of lochs (Duich, Long and Alsh) sits Eilean Donan Castle.
You probably recognize it. Eilean Donan Castle has appeared frequently in pictures, television, and movies like Highlander and The World is Not Enough. It is considered a Scottish icon and graces the packaging and promotional material of scottish shortbread and whiskey (to name a few).
The castle was constructed in the 13th century and served as the seat of power for Clan Mackenzie and their allies. A few centuries later is was destroyed by government warships during the Jacobite Rebellion.
Rebuilt in the 20th century, the castle is now the third most visited castle in Scotland and perhaps the most recognizable. The visually striking construction and landscape has made it an iconic symbol of Scotland. In the national census of 2001 the tidal island housed just one permanent resident.
5. Neuschwanstein Castle
Arguably the most popular castle on the planet, Neuschwanstein Castle is sometimes refereed to as Cinderella’s Castle for its basis as Disney’s iconic design.
Neuschwanstein Castle was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a personal retreat and only opened to the public following his death in 1886. Since then the castle has been visited by over 60 million people. Today the castle see’s over a million visitors annually and its visage is a staple of any Bavaria visit, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, and exceeds over 6.5 million euros in revenue annually.
With it’s connection to the roots of Disney folklore it is hard to say exactly how much this castle has inspired, but undoubtedly many little princes and princesses have dreamt about life within it’s walls, one way or another.
6. Château de Pierrefonds
Several castles and châteaux were built on the site prior to Château de Pierrefonds, which underwent major restoration in the 19th century.
Situated north-east of Paris the château has been depicted in many, many, movies, inspiring audiences in films like The Man in the Iron Mask, Joan of Arc, Highlander, and televisions series like the BBC’s Merlin, and Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place.
Iconic in its architecture it is a classic example of defensive military design. Today, Château de Pierrefonds is a tourist attraction featuring a museum and armoury. The attraction is well liked by many visitors and is rated 4.5 out of 5 on Trip Advisor.
What castles inspired you? Tell us in the comments below.