The best castles in the world come in all shapes and sizes; some are clearly intended to be defensive fortresses while others were built as luxury palaces. Some are in ruins, some have been changed beyond recognition from their original styles and yet others remain largely unchanged through the ages. A few of the most lavish castles which were never intended to provide protection include Hearst Castle in California, Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria and lovely Chambord Castle in France. Windsor Castel and Prague Castle are among the largest castles in the world, while Beaumaris Castle in Wales is considered to be the most technically perfect. Leeds Castle, Mont Saint Michel and Peles Castle feature among the most beautiful castles on the planet.
We recommend that you call the attractions and restaurants ahead of your visit to confirm current opening times.
1.Aggstein Castle, Austria
© JFL Photography/stock.adobe.com
Offering visitors a stunning eagle’s-eye view of the majestic Danube River, Austria’s medieval Aggstein Castle ruin is a must-see attraction for all visitors to the country. Construction of the castle is believed to have started in the early 12th century. You can explore all the fascinating nooks and crannies of the castle and its grounds at your own pace with the assistance of an audio-guide. Highlights of your tour include the Rose Garden (not your average garden, but rather a macabre outdoor prison), the elevated viewing platforms, secret hidden stairwells and the dungeon. You can also visit the castle chapel and dine like a knight at the tavern. The castle hosts an annual Christmas Market in November, before closing to the public until March when a Spring Festival takes place.
Aggstein Castle, Aggsback Dorf, 3642, Austria, Phone: 43-275-38-22-81
Gravensteen Castel (aka Castle of the Counts) is one of the most imposing defensive castles you are every likely to see. The castle was built in the 12th century as a statement of the power and wealth of Count Philip of Alsace, and was intended to scare off any possible foes simply by its size and prominence. The castle is widely known for the notorious abuse of human rights and the tortures which were perpetrated behind its walls. You can learn all about this fascinating fortress on an audio-guided tour, which is presented in a distinctly humorous way to bring a little lightness to what could otherwise be a very somber tour.
Gravensteen Castle (Castle of the Counts), Sint-Veerleplein 11, 9000 Gent, Belgium, Phone: +32-92-25-93-06
3.Castle of Amboise, France
© Cezary Wojtkowski/stock.adobe.com
Beautifully nestled in the heart of the Loire Valley, the Castle of Amboise is without doubt one of the most romantic castles in the world. The renaissance-style castle was built in the 11th century and was home to the kings of France from the 15th to the 19th century. Although it is relatively sparsely furnished, the castle still exudes a sense of luxury and style. You are welcome to explore vast reception rooms, the maze of underground tunnels and secret stair wells at your own pace using a wonderful new tablet-based guide called the Histopad, which offers visitors a unique immersive experience. One of the castle highlights is the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci which is located in the castle crypt.
Castle of Amboise, 37400 Amboise, France
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4.Castle of Chambord, France
The Castle of Chambord is one of the world’s most distinctive French renaissance castles, offering architecture enthusiasts a feast of visual delights. Construction of the castle started in 1519 and the impressive structure was never fully completed. Today visitors can walk in the steps of royalty as they explore the extravagant double-spiral staircase, which is one of the highlights of the castle and is believed to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci. You are allowed to explore the castle on your own using audio headsets which will greatly enhance your tour. If you visit during summer you can join a guided English tour of the magnificent building. The grounds are large and beautiful and you can even go paddling on the lake.
Castle of Chambord, 41250, Chambord, France
5.Kilkea Castle, a Luxury Castle Hotel in Ireland
© Kilkea Castle
With history dating all the way back to its initial construction in 1180, Kilkea Castle is one of the oldest inhabited castles in all of Ireland, and it's open to you for your next trip to the island nation. Giving guests a once in a lifetime opportunity to live like fairy tale royalty, Kilkea Castle offers dream-like accommodation and world class amenities in a glorious 12th century setting.
Kilkea Castle is located in the little inland village of Castledermot in County Kildare. It's only a little over an hour away from Dublin, so it's a great spot to let you enjoy the sights and sounds of the city whenever you want, while also being able to savor the peace and tranquility of the Irish countryside. A charming town with a lot to offer, Castledermot is the perfect place to base oneself for all kinds of activities like games of golf, nature trail walks, and village exploration, with plenty of fun things to do both on-site at Kilkea castle and in the surrounding area. Those who appreciate the game of golf can visit the on-site private course, while guests looking to relax and unwind can head over to the spa for soothing massages and treatments. Guests will also find fine dining opportunities at Kilkea Castle.
Castle View, Kilkea Demesne, Castledermot, Co. Kildare, R14 XE97, Ireland, Phone: +353 59 914 5600
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6.Himeji Castle, Japan
Japan’s most imposing and impressive castle may come as a shock to some visitors. Unlike the style of a “conventional” European castle, Himeji Castle is a wonderful example of Japanese architecture and, together with its surrounding gardens, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The castle has survived intact since the 1600’s and the complex includes more than 80 buildings connected by gates and pathways. At the heart of the complex you will find the imposing 6-story keep. If you visit during cherry-blossom time (early April) the entire complex is ablaze with colorful blossoms (but there could be long queues). Volunteer local guides offer free guided tours or you can get an English guide book and explore at your own pace.
Himeji Castle, 68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo 370 0012, Japan
7.Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Widely acknowledged to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Angkor Wat features on many bucket lists. Built in the early 12th century, the enormous complex is the largest religious monument in the world and was originally built as a Hindu temple. The complex covers over 162 hectares and the remarkable five lotus-shaped towers at its heart rise over 65mt into the air. The scale and beauty of the main temple and the surrounding complex is impossible to describe and cannot be appreciated in a matter of a few hours, so most visitors spend at least two days at the site. The best time of year to visit is between November and April, and everyone should see the sunrise in Angkor Wat at least once in their lifetime.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
8.Gyeongbokgung, South Korea
Gyeongbokgung Palace was built in 1395 and is the largest and most impressive palace in Korea. Located in southern Seoul, the palace once lay at the heart of the capital, which was then known as Hanyang. The palace was completely destroyed in 1592 and had to be completely reconstructed. You can join a 50 minute guided tour in English to learn all about the history of the palace and then move on to visit the National Palace Museum of Korea, which is located south of the Heungnyemun Gate. If you would like to visit the National Folk Museum you will find it on the eastern side of the complex. Palace highlights include the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion and the Hyangwonjeong Pond as well as the Royal Audience Chamber.
Gyeongbokgung Palace, 161 Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
9.Forbidden City, China
Built in 1420, during the famous Ming Dynasty, the Forbidden City is by far the largest ancient palace structure in the world, as well as the best-preserved imperial palace in China. As you walk in the footsteps of the ancient royalty (ordinary citizen were forbidden entry), you will be able to admire the epitome of traditional Chinese architecture and culture at every turn. To give you an idea of the scale of the palace, you can imagine 980 buildings spread through 70 palace compounds, all of which is surrounded by a 53mt wide moat. A few of the most important things to see within the complex are the Imperial Living Quarters, the traditional gardens and the amazing art collections.
Forbidden City, Beijing, China
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10.Castle of Belmonte, Spain
Belmonte Castle stands tall and proud on the summit of San Cristobal hill in Spain’s Cuenca province. The castle is impressive and slightly unusual in that it is built around a triangular central court and is in the form of a 6-pointed star with a cylindrical lookout tower at each of the six points. The architectural style is Gothic/Mudejar and the castle has been furnished with impressive antiques which date to the 19th century. This is one of the few castles which offer an elevator to help people reach the upper level and there is a small restaurant where you can have a snack or drink. The castle holds regular battle re-enactments – try to plan your visit to coincide with one of these exciting events.
Castle of Belmonte, Calle Eugenia de Montijo, Belmonte, Spain
11.Hearst Castle, California
Beautiful Hearst Castle is a classic example of a modern-day castle which was never intended to be used as a fortress. The castle occupies an enviable hill-top location overlooking the town of San Simeon and the beautiful California coastline, and took almost three decades to complete. Here, in the lap of luxury, William Randolph Hearst entertained on a lavish scale, accommodating his guests in three sumptuous suites. Today visitors can join tours which explore four different parts of the castle including the Grand Rooms, the Upstairs Suites, the Cottages and Kitchen and two tours which specifically explore the fascinating architecture and art collections of the castle.
Hearst Castle, 750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452-9741, Phone: 800-444-4445
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Leeds Castle is often referred to as the loveliest castle in England, and when you visit you will understand why this is. Leeds Castle has been around for 900 years – the first stone castle was built on the site in 1119 and it was once home to the notorious King Henry VIII. The main castle is beautifully positioned on an island within a lake and the long driveway into the estate gives you your first glimpse of turrets and the substantial moat wall. Once you have toured the public areas of the castle you can walk through the beautiful formal grounds, gardens and the maze. There is a golf course and on-site accommodation if you would like to stay overnight.
Leeds Castle, Maidstone ME17 1PL, United Kingdom, Phone: +44-16-22-76-54-00
13.Bamburgh Castle, England
Bamburgh Castle has a fascinating history which spans more than 1,400 years. Standing guard over the coastline of Northumberland, this was the first castle in the world to fall to gunpowder during the 30-year War of the Roses in the 1400’s. If the walls could speak, what stories they would tell of mysteries and intrigues, ghosts and ghouls, life and death. This is a wonderful castle to explore – you will see defensive walls that are no less than 11 feet thick in the massive central castle Keep, the outstanding Victorian design of the King’s Hall, amazing armor and weapons in The Armoury and an incredible collection of artifacts in the sumptuous State Rooms.
Bamburgh Castle, Bamburgh NE69 7DF, United Kingdom, Phone: +44-16-68-21-45-15
14.Windsor Castle, England
Located just outside London, Windsor Castle is a must-see destination for all visitors to the UK. The castle dates back to the 11th century when it was founded by William the Conqueror and is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. The castle is home to Queen Elizabeth II, and you will know if she is in residence by checking to see if the Royal Standard flag is hoisted on the roof. This is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the UK and you are strongly advised to book in advance. You can tour the sumptuous State Rooms, the Semi-State Rooms, St.George’s Chapel and watch the famous Changing of the Guard.
Windsor Castle, Windsor, SL4 1NJ, United Kingdom
15.Beaumaris Castle, Wales
Of great interest to visitors who are interested in military architecture, Beaumaris Castle is considered to be the most technically perfect of all Britain’s castles. Unfortunately, the castle was never completed as funds ran out before the gatehouse and 6 Great Towers reached their planned height. However, Beaumaris is still an imposing edifice which attracts many visitors each year. On your tour of the castle you will see the 14 separate obstacles which stood in the way of possible marauding attackers and have a chance to admire the cleverly-designed arrow slits which were called “murder holes”. You can walk along the path between the inner and outer walls for excellent views of the surrounding town and landscape.
Beaumaris Castle, Castle Street, Beaumaris, LL58 8AP, Wales
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16.Lednice Castle, Czech Republic
Beautiful Chateau Lednice is nestled in the heart of the greater Lednice-Valtice area in the south-eastern corner of the Czech Republic. Built in the 19th century, and surrounded by one of Europe’s largest parks, Lednice Castle is a wonderful example of English Neo-Gothic architecture. Touring the interior of this beautiful chateau will give you a glimpse into the lives of the European aristocracy in the 19th century. You can tour the Representative Rooms, the Private Princely apartments, the Children’s Rooms and the Puppet Theater before setting off to explore the castle gardens. Here you can visit the Palm House, the Venetian Fountain, the Chinese Pavilion and many other attractions.
Lednice Castle, Zamek Lednice, Zamek 1, Lednice 69144 CZ, Phone: +42-519-34-01-28
17.Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Situated high upon a hill in the center of bustling Edinburgh, Edinburgh Castle is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the United Kingdom. There is a great deal to see and do at the castle and it is wise to consider all the highlights and decide which of these you would most like to see. You can explore at your own pace with the assistance of an audio guide or join a free guided tour and the website offers a downloadable orientation map. To get some background you should start off by seeing the “Fight for the Castle” exhibition in the Argyle Tower. Castle highlights include the Great Hall, the Royal Palace, the Half Moon Battery and the War Prisons. Visitors are advised to book well in advance.
Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, United Kingdom, Phone: +44-13-12-25-98-46
18.Trakoscan Castle, Croatia
Dating back to the 13th century, the Neo-Gothic Trakoscan Castle is located in northwestern Croatia, where it was built high on a hill to provide good views of an important trade route. The castle has changed hands many times over the centuries and is now owned by the Republic of Croatia and was opened to the public 1954. The interior of the castle is well worth exploring to admire the fine collections of weapons, antique furniture, art, books and photographs. After you have seen the interior of the castle you can move on to explore the expansive landscaped gardens, which include a lake and walking/hiking trails.
Trakoscan Castle, Trakoscan 4, 42253, Bednja, Croatia, Phone: +385-42-79-62-81
19.Prague Castle, Czech Republic
The imposing Prague Castle is the most important monument in the Czech Republic and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is thought that the castle dates back to around 880, and it is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest coherent castle complex in the world. This is the ultimate treat for anyone interested in history and architecture as you will find several building styles from early Romanesque to Baroque and much later Gothic modifications. The complex is massive and comprises palaces, cathedrals, basilicas and much more. Visitors are welcome to tour the castle using an audio guide, but a guided tour is the best way to fully appreciate all you will be seeing.
Prague Castle, Hradcany, 119 08 Prague 1, Czech Republic
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20.Mont Saint Michel, France
From a distance, the magnificent Mont Saint Michel appears to float above the bay. This stunning hill-top castle was built on a small island off the coast of Normandy in the early 8th century to be a Benedictine abbey. Over the centuries many buildings were added to the original abbey and defensive walls were added to keep out the English forces. Today the island can be reached via a causeway from the mainland and you can walk in the footsteps of countless religious pilgrims as your explore the beautiful abbey buildings, church, cloisters and museums. Ideally you should spend at least a night in one of the on-site hotels.
Mont Saint Michel, 50170, France
21.Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Neuschwanstein Castle is probably one of the most photographed castles in the world and was the inspiration for the fairy-tale castle in Disney Land. The castle was the brainchild of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, an eccentric and highly artistic king and the structure was something of a miracle of engineering and building acumen back in 1869. Although King Ludwig did get to live in his palace he never saw the completion of his dream. Visitors to the castle are advised to book their tickets well in advance as the castle receives over one million visitors each year. Your entrance ticket includes a free guided tour of the marvelous building.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Neuschwansteinstrasse 20, 87645 Schwangau, Germany
22.Hohenschwangau Castle, Germany
Hohenschwangau Castle is thought to have been built in the 12th century. For many years the structure was home to the Knights of Schwangau but was poorly maintained and was almost completely rebuilt in 1832. This castle was the childhood home of King Ludwig II, and served as his inspiration to build the bigger, more beautiful and infinitely more romantic Neuschwanstein Castle. When you visit Hohenschwangau Castle you will find a well-preserved 19th century interior surrounded by attractive gardens. The public are allowed to visit the Royal Apartments, the gardens and the kitchen of the castle. Guided tours in English and German are available or you may use an audio guide.
Hohenschwangau Castle, Alpseestrasse 30, 87645 Schwangau, Germany
23.Burg Eltz, Germany
The fairy-tale Eltz Castle is unique in that it has been owned and occupied by the same family for over 850 years and survived unscathed through several wars. Perched high upon a 70mt rock and replete with 8 towers, oriels, roofs and turrets, the castle is surrounded by dense forestation and is the epitome of an original medieval castle. The Eltz Castle Experience includes a guided tour of the interiors of the castle, which are still furnished with many original pieces dating back to the medieval era. The Armory and Treasury are of particular interest and are home to amazing collections of art, artifacts and weapons, while the un-changed 15th century kitchen is one of the most popular castle attractions.
Eltz Castle, Burg Eltz 1, 56294 Wierschem, Germany, Phone: +49-26-72-95-05-00
Vienna’s Hofburg was the imperial residence of the Habsburgs for over 60 years and is where the perennially-popular Empress Elizabeth (aka Sisi) lived. It was originally built as a medieval fortified castle in the 13th century but has been extended and re-designed by a succession of emperors. Today the sprawling complex includes 18 wings and 2,600 rooms which accommodate nearly 5,000 people. A guided tour of the Hofburg will include a visit to the remaining parts of the original old fortress and will explain all the architectural changes which have occurred over time. Highlights of your visit to the Hofburg will include the Imperial Apartments, the Sisi Museum and the remarkable Silver Collection.
Hofburg, Michaelerkuppel, 1010 Wien, (Vienna) Austria
25.Peles Castle, Romania
When it comes to choosing the most beautiful castle in Europe, Peles Castle is a strong contender for first place. Located in the picturesque town of Sinaia in the south of Romania, Peles Castle is widely acknowledged to be a prime example of German New-Renaissance architecture and will enthrall all castle enthusiasts. The castle was completed in 1883 and is furnished and decorated in a very lavish fashion, featuring the finest European art, crystal and glass. Unique features include a mechanically operated stained-glass roof, a concert hall and a 60-seat theater. One of the highlights of your visit will be the amazing collection of European and Oriental art on display in the armories.
Peles Castle, Str. Pelesuleu 2, Sinaia
25 of the Most Stunning Castles in the World
- Aggstein Castle, Austria, Photo: JFL Photography/stock.adobe.com
- Gravensteen, Belgium, Photo: dmitr86/stock.adobe.com
- Castle of Amboise, France, Photo: Cezary Wojtkowski/stock.adobe.com
- Castle of Chambord, France, Photo: Mistervlad/stock.adobe.com
- Kilkea Castle, a Luxury Castle Hotel in Ireland, Photo: Kilkea Castle
- Himeji Castle, Japan, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com
- Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Photo: tawatchai1990/stock.adobe.com
- Gyeongbokgung, South Korea, Photo: Kalyakan/stock.adobe.com
- Forbidden City, China, Photo: ake1150/stock.adobe.com
- Castle of Belmonte, Spain, Photo: JackF/stock.adobe.com
- Hearst Castle, California, Photo: dschreiber29/stock.adobe.com
- Leeds Castle, Photo: Dan Breckwoldt/stock.adobe.com
- Bamburgh Castle, England, Photo: philipbird123/stock.adobe.com
- Windsor Castle, England, Photo: Mistervlad/stock.adobe.com
- Beaumaris Castle, Wales, Photo: Tim/stock.adobe.com
- Lednice Castle, Czech Republic, Photo: Adwo/stock.adobe.com
- Edinburgh Castle, Scotland, Photo: ex_flow/stock.adobe.com
- Trakoscan Castle, Croatia, Photo: xbrchx/stock.adobe.com
- Prague Castle, Czech Republic, Photo: rustamank/stock.adobe.com
- Mont Saint Michel, France, Photo: herby64/stock.adobe.com
- Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany, Photo: Scanrail/stock.adobe.com
- Hohenschwangau Castle, Germany, Photo: mojolo/stock.adobe.com
- Burg Eltz, Germany, Photo: naughtynut/stock.adobe.com
- Hofburg, Austria, Photo: LALSSTOCK/stock.adobe.com
- Peles Castle, Romania, Photo: rh2010/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: geza/stock.adobe.com
The Citadel of Carcassonne, France
Imagine an entire red-roofed town nestled within sturdy castle walls, surrounded by defensive moats and watched-over by no less than 53 towers. This is what you are about to encounter when you visit the amazing Citadel of Carcassonne in the Languedoc region of France. The entire complex is a remarkable example of medieval and Roman military architecture and attracts thousands of tourists each year. Highlights of a visit include walking the length of the gap between the inner and outer castle walls, the Cathedral of St. Nazaire, Chateau Comptal and the Ramparts Walk. You can explore at your own pace with an audio guide or join a guided tour.
The Citadel of Carcassonne, 11000 Carcassonne, France
More Ideas: Pembroke Castle
Located in Pembroke, Pembrokeshire, West Wales, the Pembroke Castle is a Grade-I historic building preserving the former family seat castle for the Earldom of Pembroke, open to the public as a living history museum for guided tours.
Though the land it occupies has been inhabited since at least the Roman period of the United Kingdom’s history, the legacy of castle structures at the present-day site of Pembroke Castle can be traced back to the 1066 Battle of Hastings, when the Norman-French Army set its sights on Wales after successfully conquering England. In 1093, Arnulf, the Earl Roger of Montgomery, constructed a simple timber palisades castle as part of promontory fortifications along the Pembroke River. A century later, the castle was passed to William Marshal, the Earl of Pembroke, and over the course of the next three decades, Marshal transformed the castle into a proper stone fortification, constructing its present-day Great Tower and Inner War. Further additions were constructed by Marshal’s son Gilbert between 1234 and 1241. The castle then passed hands to William de Valence, the half-brother of Henry III, who retained it in his family until 1389. Following the death of Aymer de Valence, Pembroke Castle was leased out to various short-term tenants and began to fall into disrepair by the early 13th century before coming under the ownership of Henry IV’s half-brother Jasper Tewdwr. Tewdwr is credited with many of the renovations that transformed the castle from a fortress to a private residence, including the construction of fireplaces and windows for the structure’s domestic buildings.
Throughout the next several centuries, Pembroke was used as a personal residence for the Earl of Pembroke, until the outbreak of civil war in Britain in the 1640s, when it was reclaimed for use as military fortifications. Following the American Revolutionary War, the castle fell into disuse and disrepair again, with local residents encouraged to scavenge stones from the fortress’ property for their own reuse, until initial attempts at reclamation and renovation were made in 1880 by Brecon’s J.R. Cobb. After three years of renovation attempts, the project was abandoned until 1928, when it was reinvigorated by the castle’s acquisition by Major-General Sir Ivor Phillips. Phillips accomplished substantial renovations to the castle’s towers, gatehouses, and interior walls prior to his death. Following his death, the castle was put into a private charitable trust, jointly managed by Pembroke Town Council and Phillips’ surviving family members.
Attractions and Tours
Today, Pembroke Castle is open to the public as a living history museum, owned and operated by the Pembroke Castle Trust. Honoring its place in United Kingdom history as the former seat of the Earldom of Pembroke and its roles as a fortress during multiple national and international wars, the castle has been listed as a Grade I historic building since 1951. It is the largest privately-owned historic castle in the country of Wales and has been fully restored to its historic condition, showcasing a variety of exhibitions throughout its buildings elaborating on the structure’s history, former residents, and role in the United Kingdom’s government and military.
The castle is noted for its strategic location near Milford Haven and Cleddau Estuary, which offers dramatic views of the surrounding natural areas from atop its towers. As a Norman-style enclosure castle featuring a great keep, the castle is noted for its unique location, as the only castle in the United Kingdom to be constructed over a natural cavern. All of the castle’s interior rooms are circular in shape and showcase a variety of multimedia visitor exhibits, incorporating lifelike replicas and dioramas with lighting, sound, and smartphone-integrated elements to tell the story of the castle’s former residents and recreate its Medieval appearance. Welsh history is also brought to life through a variety of living history demonstrations on select days throughout the castle’s operating season, and a cafe and brass rubbing center are open at the facility during the summer months, available for use with standard visitor admission.
Ongoing Programs and Education
In addition to regular daily living history demonstrations, a wide variety of special event programming is offered at the castle throughout the year, bringing the Medieval and Renaissance eras to life for visitors of all ages. Family special events include ghost tours, Wee Quest children’s tours, and a Merrymaker’s Knight School event series. A Rock the Castle concert serves as the castle’s annual benefit gala, and a Christmas Market brings holiday vendors to the facility during the winter holiday months. Free guided tours of the castle are also offered twice or three times daily between March and October, with privately scheduled tours available upon request for school groups and organizations.
Pembroke Castle, Pembroke, Pembrokeshire, SA71 4LA, Phone: 0-16-46-68-15-10
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More Ideas: Caernarfon Castle
When you get the first glimpse of Caernarfon Castle, your jaw will drop in awe. Caernarfon Castle is a towering and magnificent castle in North Wales that is massive and beautiful.
The history of Caernarfon Castle dates back to ancient Roman times. Romans built a fortification along the River Seiont, and named it Segontium, which is where the name Caernarfon derives from. Aside from the construction of Segontium, little is known about the structure.
Fast forward to 1088 when the Norman Robert of Rhuddlan was killed by the Welsh. Robert’s cousin, Hugh d’Avranches, Earl of Chester, reestablished Norman control by designing three castles. One of these castles happened to be Caernarfon Castle. But, in 1115 the Welsh recaptured Gwynedd and the Caernarfon Castle was handed to Welsh princes.
In 1283 Edward I fought during the war between England and Wales and captured many castles, such as Dolwyddelan, and began building his own. Among the castles under Edward’s reign, Caernarfon was one of the most magnificent. Caernarfon was regarded as one of the most impressive castles of the time and helped Edward, and others, establish English power.
Thoughout the next two years, Caernarfon underwent various renovations and expansions. Finally, in 1285 the town walls were almost complete. From then to around two centuries after, Caernarfon was regarded as the capital of North Wales. From then until 1646 Caernarfon Castle served as a highlighted spot for battles, as it resembled the center for ruling power. But, in 1646 John Byron surrendered to the Parliament, and Caernarfon Castle would never serve as a battle ground again.
Throughout the 1800s, Caernarfon Castle was rarely touched. From the 1800s to late 1900s the castle underwent various transformations, which include new renovations that preserve the historical nature of the castle. In 1986 Caernarfon Castle was officially regarded as a historic landmark and served as the building for the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum.
Aside from touring some of the medieval rooms, towers, and the castle grounds, one of the highlighted attractions at Caernarfon Castle is the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum. Admission into the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum is free with the purchase of an admission ticket into Caernarfon Castle.
Exhibits at the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum include; a full history of Caernarfon Castle, weapons that were used throughout the years, outfits worn throughout the ages, and art that is significant to Caernarfon Castle. If you’re interested in learning more about the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum, you can check out the virtual tour on the website.
Caernarfon Castle offers specialized guided tours for large groups and schools. During these specialized tours, a specially trained museum employee will guide groups around the castle and discuss important stories and facts that are relevant to Caernarfon Castle.
While touring Caernarfon Castle, visitors have the option of touring the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum. The Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum offers a variety of educational opportunities to visitors, such as free workshops and school visits. Some of the free workshops include art projects and historical lectures.
Caernarfon Castle hosts many special events throughout the year. These special events range from events hosted by the government and organizations, as well as private events. Caernarfon Castle typically hosts over 400 events a year. These events include; talks, living history days, heritage days, workshops, art activities, seasonally themed events, and live performances. One of the most popular special events at Caernarfon Castle is an annual battle re-enactment.
It’s important to note that weddings, parties, and photography shoots can be held at Caernarfon Castle. These events take place in designated areas of Caernarfon Castle and have limitations. If you’re interested in hosting a private special event at Caernarfon Castle, be sure to contact the event services at Caernarfon Castle. During these private events, the castle may be closed to the public, or sections of the castle or grounds may be roped off for event guests only.
After touring the towers, exhibits, and grounds of Caernarfon Castle and the dense historical exhibits of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum, head over to the Caernarfon Castle Gift Shop to purchase a souvenir to remember your trip forever.
Castle Ditch Caernarfon, Gwynedd LL55 2AY UK , Phone: +44-12-86-67-76-17
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More Ideas: Cardiff Castle
Located in Cardiff, Wales, Cardiff Castle is a Medieval castle with Victorian Gothic-Revival elements, open to the public as a museum offering World War II-era exhibits, guided tours, and public event programming. According to archaeological excavations, the first Roman fort at Cardiff was established sometime around 50 A.D. on a site with convenient strategic access to the nearby sea.
Four forts occupied the site of present-day Cardiff Castle until a motte-and-bailey castle was constructed in the 11th century by Norman conquerors of the area. The castle was expanded throughout the following centuries and used as a fortress during several conflicts between Anglo-Norman and Welsh forces, including the 1404 revolt of Owain Glyndwr. When the castle was acquired by Richard de Beauchamp in 1423, Beauchamp performed extensive renovations on the castle’s west side, including the construction of an octagonal tower.
After the Wars of the Roses, the castle passed hands through a number of noble families, including the Herbert and Bute families. During the reign of the Second Marquess of Bute, the city of Cardiff became one of the biggest coal exporting ports in the world, and by the time the castle was passed to the Third Marquess of Bute, John, in the 1860s, he was reported to the richest man in the world due to his connections to the coal industry. Renovation on the castle continued into the early 20th century, when much of the castle’s land and commercial interests were sold or nationalized. During World War II, the castle was used for air raid shelter space, and following the Third Marquess’ 1947 death, the property was transferred to the care of the City of Cardiff, which converted into a museum, interpretive center, and space for the National College of Music and Drama.
Permanent Exhibits and Attractions
Today, Cardiff Castle is open to the public as a living history museum and interpretive center, offering a variety of guided tour packages and public special event programming. As one of Wales’ most prominent and most-visited heritage attractions, the castle has a reputation as a historic site of international significance. More than 2,000 years of Welsh history are preserved as part of the museum complex, which offers a variety of historic exhibits preserving the site’s use as a military fortress and air raid shelter during World War II.
A number of areas within the castle have been restored to their original historic condition, including the Castle Apartments, which feature design elements created by artist and architect William Burges during the castle’s occupancy by the Third Marquess of Bute. Historic design elements include stained-glass window pieces, marble sculptures, elaborate wood carvings, and hand-painted murals. The castle’s Clock Tower has also been restored to its historic condition, standing as one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, and Burgess’ Animal Wall, one of the most-photographed attractions in modern-day Cardiff, is visible on the castle’s grounds.
House tours are available daily for a nominal upgrade fee from standard castle admission, embarking every hour and lasting approximately 50 minutes. Rooms showcased include the Winter Smoking Room, Lord Bute’s Bedroom, the Nursery, and the Rooftop Garden. Free audio guides are also available for self-guided castle tours, offered in 10 languages and featuring narration excerpts by BBC anchor Huw Edwards. Sign language and large print script audio guides are also available, and a tour for visually-impaired visitors is offered in English and Welsh.
The castle’s Firing Line interpretive center commemorates 300 years of Welsh military history, spanning from the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 through present-day conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Historical exhibits are offered on the history of the Queens Dragoon Guards and the Royal Welsh forces, as well as the country’s participation in major national and international conflicts. The castle’s World War II-era Wartime Shelters are also preserved, which formerly held up to 1,800 people at a time with dormitories and amenities during air raids. Other important historical sites preserved within the castle complex include the 12-sided Norman Keep, which may be climbed and explored by visitors, and the preserved remnants of the first Roman fortress, known today as the Roman Wall. A historically-accurate Trebuchet replica is also on display on the castle’s grounds.
Ongoing Programs and Events
A variety of special tours are offered by Cardiff Castle, including Castle Ghost Tours, Curator Tours for groups, which focus on the architectural and design elements William Burgess contributed to the castle’s modern-day appearance, and a Film Location Tour, which showcases areas of the castle used in BBC television series such as Doctor Who and Torchwood. Family-friendly activities and demonstrations are offered at the castle campus, including a Family Trail interactive tour. A variety of educational opportunities are also offered for primary and secondary school groups, including curriculum-incorporated field trips and in-classroom outreach programming. Public special events include traditional Welsh Banquet festivities, mead tasting events, and a Castle, Cruise, and Cream Tea tour package event that includes a river cruise and a tea event hosted at Cardiff’s Norwegian Church.
Castle St, Cardiff CF10 3RB, UK, Phone: +44-0-29-20-87-81-00
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