From India to Spain, discover 6 royal castles that have been a source of inspiration for famous stories and movies.
Every castle and fortress includes real stories that have taken place within its walls: plots of love and hate, wars and political alliances. Some of these castles have also served as inspiration for the creation of fairytale movies. Animation artists have used these original blueprints to build their very own fairytale castle.
Here are 6 castles that have inspired fairytales, where your favorite childhood princes and princesses lived.
1. Taj Mahal – Aladdin
The real story of the Taj Mahal seems like a fairytale itself. This impressive mausoleum was ordered to be built in by Emperor Shah Jahan in honor of his beloved wife, Arjumand Banu Begum.
From the first time the prince saw his wife Arjumand, known as Mumtaz Mahal, he was captivated by her beauty. And from that day on his love for her lasted forever. They were happily married when the emperor received news that his wife had complications delivering their fourteenth child. Shah Jahan, who was in the midst of a military campaign, did not hesitate for a moment and returned to his wife to spend the last days with her. In her honor, he decided to erect the largest and most beautiful mausoleum ever built. Shah Jahan spent the rest of his life gazing at his wife’s tomb, the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Majal is in Agra, about 125 miles from Delhi, and is part of the well-known Golden Triangle route: Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Disney was inspired by it to create the sultan’s palace in the movie Aladdin.
2. Alcázar of Segovia – Snow White
There are also fairytale castles in Spain. The Alcazar of Segovia served as inspiration for several Disney movies. It is the castle of the Queen in Snow White. Its towers, brick facade and location were also said to be the origin of the castle in Cinderella.
The Alcazar was built as a fortress, but over the years it served different purposes. Many stories of princes and princesses, wars, love and hate occurred within its walls. It was a royal palace, a prison, a military academy and an armory. Today it is a museum.
3. Neuschwanstein – Sleeping Beauty
Probably the most famous fairytale castle. It inspired Walt Disney to recreate the tale of Sleeping Beauty and has served as inspiration for many other works.
Although the appearance of the castle is medieval, it was built in 1869 by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, also known as the Mad King. Its architectural style is a mixture of Gothic, Romanesque and Byzantine art.
Neuschwanstein, which means “new stone swan”, is in the region of Bavaria, near the Austrian border. It can be visited on a day trip from Munich, which is only 80 miles away.
4. The Chillon Castle – The Little Mermaid
Prince Eric’s castle in The Little Mermaid movie is the Chillon Castle in Switzerland. This castle, on the shores of Lake Geneva, also served as literary inspiration for authors such as Lord Byron, Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas.
With its massive towers looking over the water and mountains in the background, there is a beautiful panorama that you should not miss and photograph on your next trip to Switzerland.
5. Mont Saint-Michel – Tangled
Mont Saint-Michel is an island off the coast of Normandy, France. It is a unique place because during low tide you can access the island, but when the tide rises it is completely surrounded by water. From afar it looks like a castle rising out of the sea. However, this has not been a place of kings, princes or princesses, but a religious place, which since the Middle Ages has housed a Benedictine abbey.
Legend has it that in the 8th century, the archangel St. Michael appeared in Bishop Aubert of Avranches’ dream and asked him to build the abbey.
If you watch the movie Tangled, you will clearly notice that its creators were inspired by Mont-Saint-Michel to recreate Rapunzel’s kingdom.
6. Dunnottar – Brave
Among all the castles in Scotland there is one that, despite being in ruins, has caught the attention of Disney and Pixar. Dunnottar is a medieval castle that served as inspiration for Brave. This is where the bold and courageous princess Merida lives.
Less than 2 miles from the famous Stonehaven, it is one of the castles of the Scottish castle route, which you should not miss. Situated on top of a steep cliff, a visit to this castle will have you feeling like the protagonist of Brave.