Mighty fortresses, grand palaces, and ancient forts – castles, as they are humbly known, have been a highlight of any travel itinerary. Each offer grand, dramatic tales, from earthshaking battles to tragic romances to political dramas, and its so hard to lump them all into one simple group. Instead, we’ve plucked out some of the most astounding, most jaw-dropping, and most unique castles across the globe.
Built directly into a cliff-wall, Predjama Castle in Slovenia has stood the tests of time for over 800 years. Though it is highly defensible, it did fall to a siege by the Habsburg and turned to ruins by an earthquake. In 1570 it was rebuilt in a Renaissance style, but one important detail that remains is the hidden passageway that connects to a natural cave – much like the fortress of Helms Deep from The Lord of the Rings.
Not a castle in the traditional sense, its hard not to mention Coral Castle when writing about unique and weird castles. Built by Edward Leedskalnin, a Estonian artist, from 1923-1951, Coral Castle (originally called Rock GAte Park) was 100% hand carved by the artist, despite being only 5 feet tall and weighing around 100 lbs. As a result of his devotion to the park, we now have a grand, open-air museum filled with fantastic rock sculptures.
A stunning World Heritage Site and former residence of the Mughal Emperors, the Red Fort is one of the must see sites in Delhi. Spanning 254 acres, the defensive walls of the fort stretch for 2.4 km with a variety of turrets and bastions. Within the complex you can discover a variety of pavillions, audience halls, apartments, baths, and even a reservoir.
The Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most grand castles in existence, attracting over one million visitors each year. The castle was strategically placed atop a hill in Bavaria in order to create a feeling of isolation and refuge for the king it was built for. The castle’s position proved helpful as both its exterior and interior are in pristine condition, avoiding the violence of wars and pillaging. It might also look familiar, as it was the inspiration for Sleepy Beauty’s Castle in Disneyland.
Across the world rests the Crow Castle, a tiered Japanese castle in the Nagano Prefecture. Originally constructed in 1504, it was further expanded in the 1590s by Ishikawa Norimasa, who’s bolstering of the fort expanded the surrounding city of Matsumoto. Though it was restored throughout the 19th and 20th century, the castle still maintains much of it’s original stonework and structure.
Gillette Castle State Park
Like the Coral Castle, this is one of the most unique and unknown castles int eh world. Also known as the Seventh Sister, Gillette Castle in Connecticut was built by William Hooker Gillette, who was famous for playing Sherlock Holmes in the 1910s. In perfect sync with the mystery themes of Holmes, Gillette built the castle with a series of hidden mirrors for surveillance and even hidden passageways.
Imperial City of Hue
You’ll often hear the city of Hue and its palace interchangeably, as much of the city is composed of the expansive Hue Citadel. Within the Citdael is the Imperial City where the Nguyen Emperor and the royal family once lived, though more specifically they were in the Forbidden Purple City. It is similar to the Forbidden City in Beijing. For visitors to Central Vietnam, it is one of the most sought after attractions in the region and can easily be visited on a Hue tour.
Krak de Chevaliers
Known as the Castle of Knights, Krak des Chevaliers was a grand fortress built by the Crusaders in Syria. A true military castle, it hosts a variety of battle scars over the ages and most recently from the Syrian civil war. Nearly 1,000 years old (its millennial anniversary will be in 2031) it is one of the most historic structure sin teh world, particularly due to its role int he Crusades.
The Swallow’s Nest
Perched on the edge of the Crimean Peninsula over the Cape of Ai-Todor, the Russian Castle of Swallow’s Nest is one of the most popular attractions Crimea, becoming a regional symbol. Like Neuschwanstein, it brings to mind a fairy-tale castle and offers stunning view of the coastline, beaches, and horizon. From some angles it even appears to be hanging out over the ocean.