5 castles around the world that you can visit

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All of us want to enjoy the fantasy of living in a luxurious castle, imbibed with elegance and royalty. Fortunately, this dream isn’t far from reality when most of these castles are an airplane or train ride away! And who knows? One day you might be checking out these gorgeous locations for castle wedding venues to say “I do” in!  

Edinburgh Castle

Visit the world famous icon of Scotland, recently voted top UK Heritage Attraction in the British Travel Awards and is Scotland’s number one paid-for tourist attraction. The castle offers many areas worth checking out, such as:

 

  • The Great Hall. The great hall reflects medieval Scotland, and was completed in 1511 for James IV. It’s known as being the very heart of the castle, embellished with a magnificent wooden roof, touting a reputation for some of the most striking in Britain. Additionally, the walls are plagued with weapons and armor, including the notable Lochaber axe.
  • The Royal Palace. The Royal Palace signifies a historic place of comfort for kings and queens, and was the key area for various events in Scotland’s history. Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI here in 1566!
  • The Stone Of Destiny. The Stone of Destiny signifies a powerful and ancient symbol of Scottish monarchy, with the coronation of its kings occurring here for hundreds of years. In 1996, the stone was returned to Scotland and is now the Crown Room, a prime visitation room for hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.
  • St. Margaret’s Chapel. This church once hosted Scotland’s royalty, and is still used to this day for christenings and weddings. The church also always has fresh flowers used for decoration, courtesy of St Margaret’s Chapel Guild, whose members all share the same name Margaret and live in Scotland.
  • Half Moon Battery. View gorgeous panoramic sights of the city from this elevated point, while gawking at the 18-pound cannons made in 1810 during the Napoleonic Wars.

 

Other interesting features of the castle include: The Stone of Destiny, Crown Jewels, Mons Meg, One O’Clock Gun, National War Museum, Prisons Of War, Scottish National War Memorial, and regimental museums.

Interesting Historical Fact:

‘Witches’ were burned at the stake here. Scotland has a very well documented history of its witch trials, with one of the more notable trials being against Janet Douglas, Lady Glamis who was accused of using witchcraft against King James V. While it was obvious Janet was not a legitimate suspect, King James had bad blood against her family and tortured her servants until they confessed to her being a witch. She was burnt at the stakes on the esplanade just outside of castle walls.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle is a 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace sat upon a rugged hill, just above the village of Hohenschwangau in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and was made, in honor of Richard Wagner, to be a retreat. Ludwig II, also known as the “Fairytale King”, used the castle as an escape into his ‘dream world’, and this is shown heavily throughout the architecture.

Pictures adorn the walls of the castle, modeled after Wagner’s works, and deal with love, guilt, repentance and salvation. Figures of the poet Tannhäuser, the swan knight Lohengrin and his father, and the Grail King Parzival populate the rooms. Ludwig referred to this people as his ‘kindred spirits’.

The castle embodied religious and political ideas, and can be seen vibrantly in the throne hall. Ludwig saw kingship as an opportunity delivered “by the Grace of God”, and as a holy mission. This is acutely expressed through the paintings in this room.

Somewhat surprisingly, beneath a medieval exterior, Neuschwanstein is very technologically advanced. The rooms of the royal residence were fitted with hot air central heating, running water was available on every floor, the kitchen had both hot and cold water, and the toilets had an automatic flushing system. The king even used an electric bell system to summon his servants!

Interesting Historical Fact:

Building the Neuschwanstein Castle was a very expensive decision. By the late 1880s, Ludwig II had already accrued 14 million marks, which amounts to 8,286,183.76 in US dollars! Even still, Ludwig wanted to continue with all his projects in spite of the blowback from his creditors. He went as far as to threaten suicide if his creditors seized his palaces. After more turmoil with monetary issues, a document of deposition was to be formally delivered to the king so that he could be placed in custody. Though the king escaped arrest, he was found dead of mysterious circumstances on June 13, 1886 in Lake Starnberg. While death from drowning was the first logical consensus, there was no water found in his lungs and Ludwig II was remarked to have been an incredibly strong swimmer in his youth.

Glamis Castle

Nestled in the village of Glamis in Angus, Scotland, Glamis Castle has been the ancestral seat to the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne since 1372, inspiration for Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the childhood home of HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, wife of King George VI, and the birthplace of HRH The Princess Margaret. Perhaps one of the most key characteristics of this castle is its iconic garden, with the grounds being included on the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland, the national listing of significant gardens. Matter of fact, the garden is so illustrious that it has a plethora of different exhibits within it:

 

  • The Walled Garden. Enjoy a fun grass maze, Monet style fountains, a variety of fragrant flowers, crisp vegetables, and a delicious array of fruits such as: raspberries, apples, plums, strawberries, grapes, and pumpkins.
  • The Italian Garden. This garden was lovingly designed by Countess Cecilia, mother to HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and contains a raised terrace between two gazebos, pleached alleys of Beech, a stone fountain, and ornamental gates to commemorate the HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s 80th birthday. You can enjoy butterflies, bees, pheasants and squirrels in this garden!
  • The Nature Trail. Once you’ve visited the Italian Garden, swing by the nearby nature trail to enjoy sights of red squirrels, herons, roe deer and pheasants.
  • The Macbeth Trail. This trail is particularly magnificent because of its wooden fixtures, expertly crafted to depict iconic scenes in Shakespeare’s famous play, Macbeth. Featured sculptures include: The Three Witches, King Duncan, Macbeth, Banquo, Lady Macbeth, Macbeth Contemplating, and Macduff.

 

Interesting Historical Fact:

On November 25, 1034, King Malcolm II was murdered at Glamis, and was described as the “most glorious” and “most victorious” king. The Prophecy of Berchán, accounts that Malcolm was killed fighting bandits.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is the oldest and most occupied castle in the world, residing in the English county of Berkshire. It’s home to The Queen and over 900 years of royal history, and was even the recent wedding venue of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry! Windsor castle touts many impressive features:

 

  • State Apartments. These collection of apartments form the centerpiece of the Castle, with grandiose embellishments such as ornamental painted ceilings and carvings by Grinling Gibbons. The Apartments themselves are furnished with some of the finest works of art by the Royal Collection, including paintings by Holbein, Van Dyck and Rubens. The State Apartments are open when the castle is open, save for some exceptions.
  • Semi-State Rooms. These are the private apartments created for George IV. They feature key pieces from Morel & Seddon, and are among the most richly decorated in the Castle. These rooms are open from autumn until spring each year.
  • Grand Reception Room. This room, with its fancy chandeliers and gilding, used to be the main ballroom in the Castle. However, perhaps the most interesting fixture in the room is the large malachite urn gifted to Queen Victoria by Tsar Nicholas 1 in 1839.
  • St. George’s Castle. Also known as the wedding chapel for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, this chapel is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in England.

 

Interesting Historical Fact:

Windsor Castle was originally built by William the Conqueror in the decade after the Norman conquest of 1066. It was a strategically important structure because of its proximity to both the River Thames, a key route into London, and Windsor Forest, a royal hunting preserve. Initially, Windsor Castle was not a royal residence. Matter of fact, the first king to use it as such was Henry I.

Château de Chambord

Château de Chambord in Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France is one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world due to its very distinctive French Renaissance architecture. Upon arriving at the castle, be enchanted by the renowned double-helix staircase, as well as more than 4,500 works of art to discover in the refurbished apartments. Further, the castle has a plethora of fun activities to make your day here an exciting and informative one:

 

  • Horse & Bird Of Prey Show. Available from the 28th of April to the 30th of September, enter the stables of Maurice, Count of Saxony, to embark on a magnificent cavalcade of horses. Additionally, you get to observe stunning birds of prey and fully immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the François court.
  • Electric boat trips. Enjoy an electric boat trip on the canal at the foot of the castle. Tours run from the 31st of March to the 4th of November.
  • Horse-drawn carriage ride. Discover gorgeous floral and fauna as a coachman takes you to the most private sections of the estate. You may even catch sight of stags, roebucks, boars, or even osprey that come to nest on treetops when the weather allows! The tour runs from the 7th of July to the 2nd of September.
  • Walking trails. Roughly 14 miles of trails are accessible year round so that you can go exploring at your own pace. A map of the trail is available in English and French at the reception of the castle.

 

Other activities include wildlife observation, and bike or rosalie tours.

Interesting Historical Fact:

Who should be credited as the designer of Château de Chambord has been a matter of great controversy. The design of the castle, though with some doubt, was originally attributed to Domenico da Cortona, whose wooden model survived long enough to be drawn by André Félibien in the 17th century. However, in 1913, Marcel Reymond suggested that Leonardo da Vinci, was responsible for the original design. Though the discussion has not ended on this issue, many can agree that da Vinci was at least responsible for design of the central staircase.


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