Castles throughout history have been built in some of the most stunning and inaccessible locations, not only to make them powerful defensive fortifications, but also in order to impress and inspire the local population. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy these spectacular structures – below is a list of virtual tours that allow you to explore a whole variety of historical castles from the comfort of your home.
15 Virtual Castle Tours to Watch from Home
The Palace of Versailles Virtual Tour
Located about 12 miles southwest of the center of Paris, the Palace of Versailles was built on the site of an earlier hunting lodge and chateau. The French king Louis XIV expanded the chateau into a palace, before moving his court there in 1682 – Versailles remained as the royal residence until the revolution in 1789.
The palace is noted for its enormous size and hugely opulent design: it features a hall of mirrors, an opera house, a rustic hamlet (in the park surrounding the palace itself), and elaborate gardens with geometric flower beds, canals, and fountains. 1 hour-long virtual tours of the palace are available, led by a French history expert.
Alcázar of Seville Virtual Tour
Originally built in 913 by the first Caliph of Andalusia, Abd al-Rahman III, the Alcázar is a royal palace in the city of Seville. The Abbadid Muslim palace was destroyed during the Christian invasion of the city, and the current Alcázar was built in its place by King Peter of Castille.
Although it was constructed in the Mudéjar architectural style, Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance elements were later added, creating an eclectic structure. The word Alcázar comes from the Arabic al-qaṣr (‘the castle’, ‘the palace’). Virtual self-guided tours of the palace are available for only €7.99.
Alcázar of Segovia Virtual Tour
Famous for its picturesque appearance and distinctive ship-like shape, the Alcázar of Segovia is a medieval castle built on a rocky outcrop at the confluence of two rivers near the Guadarrama mountains in the city of Segovia, Spain.
The structure that stands there today was founded by King Alfonso VIII of Castile and quickly became one of the favored residences of the monarchs of Castile. Since it was built, the castle has served as a palace, a prison, an artillery school, and a military academy. An excellent virtual tour is available here.
Windsor Castle Virtual Tour
Built by William the Conqueror following his invasion of England in 1066, Windsor forms part of a ring of defensive castles surrounding the English capital of London. The castle has been occupied by English monarchs since the reign of Henry I (1100-1135) and is, therefore, the longest-occupied palace in Europe.
Despite later additions and renovations, Windsor has retained its original double-ward design, which it has possessed since its earliest incarnation as a motte-and-bailey castle. Today the castle is still used by the British monarchy extensively – you can view some of the interiors for free with this virtual tour.
Buckingham Palace Virtual Tour
First known as Buckingham House, after the townhouse forming the core of today’s palace built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703, Buckingham Palace was acquired by the British monarchy in 1761.
During the 19th century, the original structure was enlarged, and three wings were built around a central courtyard, creating the current layout.
The palace became the principal residence of British monarchs upon the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. Many of Buckingham Palace’s grand interiors can be viewed via free virtual tours on their website.
Hever Castle Virtual Tour
The picturesque Hever Castle began life as a country house built in the 13th century, before being expanded into a castle in the 1270s. Hever became the home of the Boleyn family, whose scion Anne Boleyn became the second wife of King Henry VIII of England in 1533.
After the death of Anne’s father in 1539 Henry inherited the castle, before gifting it to Anne of Cleves in 1540 as part of a divorce settlement. In 1903 the castle was purchased and restored by American millionaire William Astor – today the castle is open to the public, and a 3d tour can be found here.
Raby Castle Virtual Tour
Raby is a medieval castle dating from the 14th century, situated in the north of England near Staindrop, County Durham. Surrounded by 200 acres of deer park, the fortification was built by the Neville family and entered royal possession in 1569 after Charles Neville, 6th Earl of Westmorland, led the failed Rising of the North in support of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Later renovations to Raby increased its size, and the castle is famed for its collection of art. Although the castle is a private home, it is open to the public at certain times of the year. However, you can access this virtual tour anytime you like.
Blair Castle Virtual Tour
The ancestral home of Clan Murray, Blair Castle stands near the village of Blair Atholl in Perthshire, Scotland. The castle was built in Glen Garry commanding a strategic route northward into the Scottish Highlands.
The original castle was likely constructed in the late 13th century and saw action in the 17th century during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms when it was occupied by Oliver Cromwell’s army (the Murrays supported the Royalists).
During the 1745 Jacobite uprising the castle was twice occupied by the Jacobites before government forces retook the fortification. A spectacular virtual tour is available on the Blair Castle website.
Dunluce Castle Virtual Tour
Once the home of Clan McDonnell, Dunluce is a ruined 13th-century clifftop castle in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Built on a basalt promontory, the castle is accessible only via a small bridge connecting it to the mainland.
Although the site was likely occupied by early Christians and Vikings, the first evidence we have for its fortification dates from the 13th century, when the 2nd Earl of Ulster built the castle. A stunning virtual tour with 360-degree photos can be found here.
Château de Pierrefonds Virtual Tour
Positioned in Picardy in northern France, the Château de Pierrefonds is a 12th-century castle that was expanded and rebuilt by Duke Louis of Orleans from 1393-1407. Although it was destroyed in 1617 during the political upheaval in the early reign of King Louis XIII of France, Pierrefonds was later rebuilt by Napoleon III.
From 1857-1885 a large-scale reconstruction was undertaken, although parts of the picturesque ruins were to be left untouched. A full virtual tour of the castle can be found on their website.
Prague Castle Virtual Tour
Originally dating from the 9th century, Prague Castle is a castle complex in the middle of the Czech capital, occupying a huge area 570 meters long and 130 meters wide.
The castle was the seat of power for Bohemian monarchs and Holy Roman Emperors, and today is used by the Presidents of the Czech Republic. The castle complex contains two basilicas dedicated to Saint George and Saint Vitus – the Basilica of Saint George is the oldest surviving building at Prague Castle, dating from 920.
In 1618 the defenestration of Prague took place in the castle, beginning the Bohemian revolt and the Thirty Years War. The virtual tour can be found here.
Wartburg Castle Virtual Tour
Situated on a precipice rising 410 meters above the town of Eisenach in the German state of Thuringia, Wartburg is an 11th-century castle with a fascinating history.
The castle is not only a spectacular clifftop structure, but it was also home to Queen Elizabeth of Hungary, the supposed setting for the legendary contest of minstrels held in 1207 (the Sängerkrieg), and the place in which Protestant Reformer Martin Luther translated the Old Testament into German.
Notably, Wartburg also inspired Ludwig II in his construction of Neuschwanstein Castle. A fantastic tour of this beautiful castle can be found on Wartburg’s website.
Snežnik Castle Virtual Tour
Snežnik is a 13th-century castle located in the Lož Valley of southern Slovenia. Originally constructed and owned by the Schneberg family, the castle underwent subsequent remodeling in the 15th century to give it its current renaissance appearance.
It was also heavily remodeled in the mid 19th century – the interiors of the castle date from these works, and the grounds of the castle were also renovated at this time to incorporate riding and walking paths, and two artificial lakes. A virtual tour can be found here.
Malbork Castle Virtual Tour
Built in the 13th century by the Teutonic Order near the town of Malbork in Poland, Malbork Castle is the largest castle in the world when measured by land area.
Although it was built by the Teutonic crusaders, the castle came to be a polish royal residence after it was purchased by King Casimir IV from Bohemian mercenaries in 1457.
Trakošćan Castle Virtual Tour
Located in northern Croatia, Trakošćan castle is a 13th-century fortification originally constructed to serve as an observation post to watch the roads in the region. By the middle of the 19th century, the castle had fallen into disrepair and inspired by contemporary Romanticism, the castle was restored as a residential manor house.
After the second world war the castle was nationalized and today it is owned by the Republic of Croatia – the structure houses a museum with a permanent collection established in 1953. An extensive virtual tour of the castle in English and Croatian can be found on the website.