Surely, none of us are Kings or Queens or have even dared to slay a dragon. That doesn’t change the fact that we wish castles could just stop being our dream houses and become our real homes. While that will probably never happen, it’s nice to daydream, and one of the best ways to do that is in person. From Germany to Spain, to France, California and Ireland – being able to afford any one of these astonishing and exquisite castles would indeed be anyone’s dream.
Number Eight: Kilkenny Castle, Ireland. One of the first castles you’ll need to visit is in Ireland. Kilkenny Castle was built in 1195 by William Marshal, with the property being transferred to the people of Kilkenny in 1967 for £50 ($55). Kilkenny was once occupied by a very politically powerful family, the Butlers of Ormonde, and the Butler family remained there until 1935. On one side of the castle you will find beautiful gardens and extensive land to the front. Kilkenny Castle has become one of the most visited tourist sites in all of Ireland.
Number Seven: Château de Chambord, France. Everything in France is beautiful – especially the royal Château de Chambord Castle with its very distinctive French Renaissance architecture. All of the lovely add-ons, like gardens, water features, and those classic moats, were common among châteaux from the 16th century, and Château de Chambord is no exception to this rule. This castle was built to act as a sort of hunting lodge for King Francis I, with the idea of living in it not being very practical. Like almost all castles that are still standing to this day, it was almost brought to ruins before Gaston d’Orléans, the brother of King Louis XIII, salvaged it.
Number Six: Osaka Castle, Japan. Whenever people go to Japan, they always want to go straight to Tokyo. But you’re missing out if you skip a trip to the Osaka Castle. The castle was recreated and rebuilt in the ’60s since the original one was destroyed during the second World War. On the castle grounds, which measure to precisely 60,000 square meters (about 15 acres), there are 13 structures designated as important cultural assets by the Japanese government. Today, the tower’s interior is completely modern and includes an elevator for easier accessibility. Visitors can also check out the informative museum detailing the castle’s history.
Number Five: Castillo de Coca, Spain. In the beautiful land of Spain, located a 90 minute drive north of Madrid, is Castillo de Coca. This massive and distinguished castle is one of the strongest fortresses in all of Spain, built with strong outer walls and gates that are roughly 10 feet thick. It was declared a national monument in 1931, and after that it was restored into a school of forestry in 1954. If you are planning a trip to Spain to see one of the greatest castles in the world, be prepared to brush up on your Spanish since that is the language the tour will be given in.
Number Four: Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland, California. Sleeping Beauty certainly needs no introduction, and for that matter neither does Disneyland. But for those of you who have never been, the Sleeping Beauty Castle is a wondrous sight to witness. The Disney castle is based on the late-19th century Neuschwanstein Castle located in Bavaria, Germany, with some French inspirations thrown in here and there. It is the oldest of any castle at Disneyland, first opening in July of 1955 – only two years later were visitors able to walk through the castle. It’s also a no-brainer destination if you have a young daughter.
Number Three: Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany. Among the top three castles in the world is Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle. Originally intended to be a place of personal refuge for its king, it was later opened to the public – for a price – once he died in 1886. The castle’s architectural fashion captures perfectly Ludwig II’s huge enthusiasm for the theatrics of operas, particularly those of Richard Wagner; if you’re ever able to step inside, you’ll find paintings of Wagner operas hung on the walls of the rooms. This is also the castle that inspired the Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Number Two: Castle Howard, Yorkshire. One of the best castles in all the land, Castle Howard is one incredible 18th-century residence. Plenty of beautiful scenery is all around, and there is also a view of breathtaking landscape in the Howardian Hills. Castle Howard is the perfect place for families looking to have a fun day out, shop or even gander at world-renowned art collections. Forestry and farming are just two of the enterprises the castle encompasses, with all profits going to the continual restoration of a couple hundred listed monuments and buildings.
Number One: Castle Hohenschwangau, Germany. Hohenschwangau Castle, a 19th-century castle located in southern Germany, is a glorious place. This medieval fortress was constructed by a team of knights who built the castle on top of remains of the fortress Schwangau. In our current century, the local government has made the Hohenschwangau Castle one of its primary tourist attractions, and for good reason. For anyone looking to visit, you’ll have to purchase a ticket, which are non-transferable and are only valid on the day the tour the ticket indicates.