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Top 10 Castles

Mont Saint-Michel, France

Mont Saint-Michel is a rocky tidal island and a commune in Normandy, France. It is located approximately one kilometre (just over half a mile) off the country’s north-western coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. The island has held strategic fortifications since ancient times, and since the 8th century AD been the seat of the monastery from which it draws its name. William de Volpiano, the Italian architect who had built the Abbey of Fécamp in Normandy, was chosen as building contractor by Richard II of Normandy in the 11th century. He designed the Romanesque church of the abbey, daringly placing the transept crossing at the top of the mount. Many underground crypts and chapels had to be built to compensate for this weight; these formed the basis for the supportive upward structure that can be seen today.The Mont-Saint-Michel and its bay are part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

www.ot-montsaintmichel.com

Castle of Versailles, France

Castle of Versailles or The Palace of Versailles, or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. In French it is the Château de Versailles. The court of Versailles was the centre of political power in France from 1682, when Louis XIV moved from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in October 1789 after the beginning of the French Revolution. Versailles is therefore famous not only as a building, but as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime. The Fifth Republic has enthusiastically promoted the museum as one of France’s foremost tourist attractions. The palace, however, still serves political functions. Heads of state are regaled in the Hall of Mirrors; the Sénat and the Assemblée nationale meet in congress in Versailles to revise or otherwise amend the French Constitution, a tradition that came into effect with the promulgation of the 1875 Constitution.

www.chateauversailles.fr

Palacio Real de Olite, Spain

The Palacio de los Reyes de Navarra de Olite (“Palace of the Kings of Navarre of Olite”) orCastillo de Olite (“Castle of Olite”) was built during the 13th and 14th centuries in the town of Olite. It was one of the seats of the Court of the Kingdom of Navarre, since the reign of Charles III “the Noble” It was Charles III of Navarre, who in the 15th century began the extension of the former castle, leading to the Palace of the Kings of Navarre. One of its main attractions is the apparent disorder of its design. This is because the palace’s design did not come from an overall plan, but was the result of ongoing expansions and changes over the course of centuries, although most of the palace was built during the late 14th century and early 15th century. The then King of Navarre, Charles III “The Noble”, decided to convert the existing palace into a permanent royal seat and give it its own ornaments.

Buda Castle, Hungary

Buda Castleis the historical castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings in Budapest, first completed in 1265. In the past, it was also called Royal Palace and Royal Castle. Buda Castle was built on the southern tip of Castle Hill, bounded on the north by what is known as the Castle District (Várnegyed), famous for its Medieval, Baroque, and 19th-century houses, churches, and public buildings. It is linked to Clark Ádám Square and the Széchenyi Chain Bridgeby the Castle Hill Funicular. The castle is part of the Budapest World Heritage Site, declared in 1987. The first royal residence on the Castle Hill was built by King Béla IV of Hungary between 1247 and 1265. It is uncertain whether it was situated on the southern tip of the hill or on the northern elevation near the Kammerhof. The oldest part of the present-day palace was built in the 14th century by Stephen, Duke of Slavonia, the younger brother of King Louis I of Hungary. Only the foundations remain of the castle keep, which was known as Stephen’s Tower.

Malbork Castle, Poland

The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork is the largest castle in the world by surface area, and the largest brick building in Europe. It was built in Prussia by the Teutonic Knights, a German Roman Catholic religious order of crusaders, in a form of an Ordensburg fortress. The Order named it Marienburg (Mary’s Castle). The town which grew around it was also named Marienburg. The castle is a classic example of a medieval fortress and, on its completion in 1406, was the world’s largest brick castle. UNESCO designated the “Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork” and its Museum as the World Heritage Site in December 1997. It is one of two World Heritage Sites in the region with origins in the Teutonic Order. The other is the “Medieval Town of Toruń”, founded in 1231 as the site of the castle Thorn (Toruń). At the conclusion of the war, the city of Marienburg (Malbork) and castle became part of Poland. The castle has been mostly reconstructed, with restoration ongoing since 1962 following a fire in 1959 which caused further damage. The main cathedral in the castle, restored just before World War II and then destroyed in battle, is still in ruins. Nevertheless, Malbork Castle is the largest brick building in Europe.

Prague Castle, Czech republic

Prague Castle is a castle in Prague where the Kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman Emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic have had their offices. The Czech Crown Jewels are kept here. Prague Castle is the biggest castle in the world. The castle buildings represent virtually every architectural style of the last millennium. The Prague Castle includes Gothic St Vitus Cathedral, Romanesque Basilica of St. George, a monastery and several palaces, gardens and defense towers. Most of the castle areas are open to tourists. Nowadays, the castle houses several museums, including the National Gallery collection of Bohemian baroque and mannerism art, exhibition dedicated to Czech history, Toy Museum and the picture gallery of Prague Castle, based on the collection of Rudolph II

www.hrad.cz/en/prague-castle-for-visitors

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle is a fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, from its position atop the volcanic Castle Rock. Human habitation of the site is dated back as far as the 9th century BC, although the nature of early settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle here since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until the Union of the Crowns in 1603. From the 15th century the castle’s residential role declined, and by the 17th century its principal role was as a military base with a large garrison. Its importance as a historic monument was recognised from the 19th century, and various restoration programmes have been carried out since. As one of the most important fortresses in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle was involved in many historical conflicts, from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century, up to the Jacobite Rising of 1745, and has been besieged, both successfully and unsuccessfully, on several occasions.

www.edinburghcastle.scot

Windsor Castle, England

Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county ofBerkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and for its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time ofHenry I it has been used by a succession of monarchs and is the longest-occupied palace in Europe. The castle’s lavish, early 19th-century State Apartments are architecturally significant, described by art historian Hugh Roberts as “a superb and unrivalled sequence of rooms widely regarded as the finest and most complete expression of later Georgian taste”. The castle includes the 15th-century St George’s Chapel, considered by historian John Robinson to be “one of the supreme achievements of English Perpendicular Gothic” design. More than five hundred people live and work in Windsor, making it the largest inhabited castle in the world. It is a popular tourist attraction, a venue for hosting state visits, and the Queen’s preferred weekend home.

www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/windsorcastle

Hohenzollern Castle, Germany

On a beautiful summer evening in July 1819, 23 year old Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia paid a visit to the ruinous ancestral seat and decided its reconstruction. As a King, Frederick William IV. wrotein 1844:
The Memories of the year 1819 are exceddingly dear to me and like a pleasant dream, especially the sunset we watched from the bastions….Now a dream of my youth has matured into the sole wish, to see the Hohenzollern hill made habitable once more….”
Between 1850 and 1867 the kings dream was realized together with his Swabian relatives, the princes of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and -Hechingen, and the architect Friedrich August Stuler. Following the romantic ideal of the time one of the most imposing neo gothic castles in Germany was erected. The main castle complex with its many towers and turrets is surrounded by ramps and fortifications which 19th century contemporaries acclaimed masterpieces of military architecture.
The Hohenzollern Castle rises majestically on the mountain peak of the Swabian Alb. Its bastions offer a breathtaking panorama over the countryside. After 1952 the splendid halls and rooms have been furnished by Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (1907-1994) with valuable works of art pertaining to the history of Prussia`s kings and Germanys emperors. In addition to paintings by well-known artists like Antoine Pesne, Elisiabeth Vigee-Lebrun, Anton von Werner or Franz von Lenbach, there is a display of precious porcelain, gold-and silver-smith works from the 17th to 19th centuries as well as historical garments such as he uniform, worn by Frederick the Great during the battle near Kunersdorf or clothes from Queen Louise.
In the catholic St.Michael’s Chapel, which for the most part originates from the previous castle, late Romanesque sandstone reliefs and stained glass windows from the 13th century with the oldest known depiction of the Hohenzollern heraldry, can be seen. The protestant Christ Chapel, erected on special request by King Frederick William IV., was the resting-place of Frederick the Great and his father Frederick William I, between 1952 and 1991.
In 2004, casemates, bomb-proof vaulted cellars once used for military purposes, and parts of a secret passage were opened to the public. The picturesque site and the precious art collections make a visit to Hohenzollern Castle a sustainable experience at any time of the year. The Castle is open daily – including Monday – all year-round. Betwee April 1st and October 31st a shuttle bus runs from the parking lot to the castle entrance and vice versa. During the winter season tourist parties of at least 20 persons can book the buses two days in advance.
At the Castle there are also home-style meals to be had. During the summer season the Castle pub entertains one of the most beautiful beer gardens in the Zollernalb district. Here you are welcome to bring a sandwich along. Drinks of your choice as well as small snacks, a cake selection and sweets are available at the kiosk.

www.burg-hohenzollern.com/startpage.html

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle – German: Schloss Neuschwanstein, is a 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in south-west Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as an homage to Richard Wagner. Contrary to common belief, Ludwig paid for the palace out of his personal fortune and extensive borrowing, not with Bavarian public funds. The palace was intended as a personal refuge for the reclusive king, but it was opened to the paying public immediately after his death in 1886. Since then over 60 million people have visited Neuschwanstein Castle. More than 1.3 million people visit annually, with up to 6,000 per day in the summer. The palace has appeared prominently in several movies and was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle and later, similar structures.

www.neuschwanstein.de/englisch/palace

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