Relive the magic of your childhood by discovering Europe’s most beautiful castles. Experience your own fairy tale by visiting one of these majestic and elegant imperial palaces.
Who among us has not been lulled to sleep by fairy tales and their castles surrounded by vast mysterious forests or adorned with flowery and colorful gardens? From the Loire Valley to Neuschwanstein Castle to the palace of Princess Sissi to Queen Elizabeth II’s secondary residence, Musement unveils the best of Europe’s most beautiful castles.
1. The castles of the Loire
Only two hours away from Paris, the Loire Valley–a UNESCO World Heritage site–is home to 300 majestic castles, of which nearly fifty are open to the public. Take a stroll in an exceptional setting in the heart of mother nature and discover these stone giants, all of which are true testaments to history. Accompanied by a qualified guide, discover three spectacular Renaissance castles in one day: Chambord, Chenonceau and Cheverny.Visit the last home of Leonardo da Vinci, le Château du Clos Lucé, located near Château royal d’Amboise and end your day with a wine tasting tour in the Duhard Cellars.
Château de Chambord
2. Château de Fontainebleau
Also in France and not too far from Paris is Château de Fontainebleau, the only castle to have been inhabited without interruption for seven centuries by French sovereigns, from Francis I to Napoleon III. The castle is built in the French styles typical of not just the Middle Ages, but also the Renaissance and Classical eras, showcasing the transformation of French art and architecture over time. Treat yourself to a guided tour of the Castle, which boasts 1,500 rooms amid 130 hectares of parks and gardens, or admire the forest-surrounded castle from above during an unforgettable Balloon flight.
Serenity at the Château de Fontainebleau
3. Castle of Schönbrunn
The summer residence of the Habsburgs, the Castle of Schönbrunn is a true baroque masterpiece, an emblematic monument of Vienna and the Austrian capital’s most visited tourist site. Explore the palace‘s 40 rooms which feature the different stylistic eras of the imperial monarchy and the life of the palace inhabitants. Stroll through the French-style gardens and explore the Orangerie, a symbol of the palace’s wealth at that time. And why not treat yourself to the sweet sounds of a classical music concert played by the famous Vienna Orchestra of Schönbrunn Castle at the Orangerie du Château, where Mozart himself played in 1786. Immerse yourself in an absolute imperial atmosphere when you embark on the luxurious ship of royal pleasures. For those of you who grew up with the romantic adventures of Princess Sissi, do not miss the Castle of Hofburg where you can visit the apartments of Emperor Francis Joseph and Empres Elizabeth as well as the museum dedicated to them.
Château de Schönbrunn
4. Castle of Neuschwanstein
A symbol of Bavaria with fairytale allure, the Castle of Neuschwanstein is Germany’s most famous castle. A refuge of Louis II, the castle was created and inhabited for a single man is now one of Europe’s most visited attractions, and was a major inspiration for Walt Disney. Built on a steep rock face just two hours from Munich, Neuschwanstein is set in a verdant wooded hillside, an idyllic and enchanting setting. Discover the castle accompanied by an expert guide, but also admire the superb panoramic views. Louis II of Bavaria alternated his stays between this castle and Linderhof, where he found refuge in the gardens of the French-style Rococo castle inspired by Versailles, decorated with marvelous basins, waterfalls and terraced gardens.
Castle of Neuschwanstein
5. Prague Castle
Imagine a huge monumental castle that belongs to a majestic architectural complex composed of ancient palaces, a place of worship with beautiful gardens. Founded in the 9th century, Prague Castle was the seat of the kings of Bohemia before becoming home to the Czech Republic’s presidents, rendering the castle a symbolic representation of the Czech state. The largest in the world according to the Guinness World Records, Prague Castle showcases an incredible mix of Gothic and Renaissance styles coupled with influences from the Baroque and Romanesque periods. Treat yourself to a guided tour of the complex and it’s entirety, discover the ancient royal palace, St Vitus Cathedral, St George’s Basilica and the Golden Alley where Kafka lived as well as where during the Middle Ages, alchemists tried to produce gold and the Philosopher’s Stone for Emperor Rudolph II. From here, enjoy a magnificent view over the whole town over which the castle dominates.
View of Prague Castle
6. Windsor Castle
Situated fifty kilometers from London, this medieval fortress is the British royal family’s second residence as well as the oldest royal palace in Europe to have been inhabited without interruption that is still inhabiated today. The official royal home of Elizabeth II, Windsor Castle is open to the public year-round, unlike Buckingham Palace. Discover the state apartments and George IV’s private apartments that are richly decorated with paintings by famous artists such as Rubens, Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci. Don’t miss the gothic Chapel of Saint George where ten sovereigns are buried. Be sure to explore the amazing Queen Mary’s Doll House and if you have the opportunity, schedule your visit on a day when the changing of the Guard takes place.
Saint George’s Chapel – Windsor Castle