Medieval

Best Medieval Castles in Europe

From Slovakia to Switzerland, Wales to Warsaw, Poland, Europe is home to thousands of Medieval castles and fortresses whether they look like they came straight out of a romantic fairytale or now stand in dramatic ruin. Culture vultures are spoilt for choice on where to learn more about our history whether admiring the views from hill-top and lakeside castles, learning the strategic defense systems of medieval times, or seeing how a fortress can be turned into a palace.

 

31 Famous Medieval Castles to visit

1. Carreg Cennen Castle

Medieval Castles Carreg-Cennen-Castle

Surrounded by incredible natural beauty within the Brecon Beacons, the ruins of Carreg Cennen Castle dominates the landscape, built on a limestone precipice. The Medieval fortress remains that are seen today were built during King Edward I’s reign but archaeological evidence suggests that the site was occupied during Roman times and even during prehistoric times.

Where: Trap, Carmarthenshire, Wales
When:
12th century
Style:
Gothic Revival
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 9.30am closed 25th December.

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2. Predjama Castle

Medieval Castles Predjama-Castle

The place where man-made creativity and nature come together, Predjama Castle has the wow factor since it’s a 4-storey fortress built into the cave mouth of a 123-meter high cliff making it quite the tourist attraction. An 800-year-old Medieval marvel, and the largest cave castle in the world,  Predjama Castle needs to be seen to be believed!

Where: Predjama, Slovenia
When:
12th century
Style:
Renaissance
Open for visit:
Yes. Tours are available year-round, 3 times a day off-season and hourly during peak Summer season (May-September).

3. Castillo de Coca

Medieval Castillo-de-Coca

This late Medieval castle combines Gothic and Moorish architecture and is considered one of the best examples of a castle-palace featuring Mudejar architecture in the whole of Spain. Located in the picturesque walled town of Coca, the Castilian castle has 2 square baileys, polygonal towers, and a dry moat and would have been impenetrable during Medieval times.

Where: Coca, Segovia, Spain
When:
15th century
Style:
Gothic / Moorish
Open for visit:
Yes. Open Daily. Monday-Friday from 10.30am and weekends and holidays from 11 am. Guided tours in Spanish only.

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4. Chateau Pierrefonds

Best Castles in France Chateau de Pierrefonds

This impressive fortress retains most of its defensive military architecture from the Middle Ages despite undergoing major restoration work in the 19th century to restore it to its former glory after it was torn down by Louis XIII at the start of the 17th century. Admire the crenelated towers, take a walk around the battlements, and soak up the Medieval atmosphere.

Where: Pierrefonds, Picardy, France
When:
14th century
Style:
Romanesque
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 2nd May-4th September. Open Tuesday-Sunday 5th September-30th April. Closed Monday’s during off-peak season and 1st January, 1st May, 11th November, and 25th December.

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5. Hunyadi Castle

Famous Medieval Castles Hunyadi-Castle

Otherwise known as Corvin Castle, the castle at Hunedoara is one of the biggest castles in Europe and is included as 1 of the 7 Wonders of Romania. The most impressive Medieval castle in the country, legend has it that not only was Dracula imprisoned here but Vlad the Impaler too. No matter what you make of the ‘ghost stories’, the Knight’s Hall, the spiral staircases, and the rectangular towers are sure to impress.

Where: Hunedoara, Romania
When:
15th century
Style:
Gothic-Renaissance
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 10.30am Monday and from 9 am Tuesday-Sunday.

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6. Schloss Wartburg

Castles in Germany Wartburg-Castle

This UNESCO World Heritage has more than 1,000 years of history to discover. Step inside to see the restored Medieval architecture and the Wartburg Castle Art Collection that includes paintings, tapestries, and furniture before learning the history of this hilltop castle at the onsite museum at what was once the medieval Court of the Muses.

Where: Eisenach, Thuringia, Germany
When:
12th century
Style:
Romanesque
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily. Guided tours in English available at 1.30pm during peak season.

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7. Chateau Comtal

Famous Medieval Castles Chateau-Comtal

At the heart of the biggest preserved Medieval fortified city in Europe sits the Medieval Chateau Comtal de Carcassonne. Hugely impressive, the UNESCO listed castle that we see today was originally a 6th-century hill fort. Its Medieval fortifications are some of the finest that remain in Europe so walk the ramparts and admire the view of the fairytale-like Medieval city with its towers, walls, barbicans, and drawbridges.

Where: Carcassonne, France
When:
12th century
Style:
Gothic
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 10 am. Closed 1st January, 1st May, 1st and 11th November and 25th December.

8. Alhambra de Granada

Best Spanish Castles Alhambra

One of the most distinct Medieval strongholds not just in Spain but the world, the Alhambra is a highly-sophisticated sprawling palace-fortress complex full of Moorish architecture and pretty courtyard patios. A Royal Residence from the 13th century, it later became a Christian Court before being abandoned but has remained intact to this day, the only Medieval palace in the world that has not been partially lost or destroyed.

Where: Granada, Spain
When:
9th century
Style:
Moorish
Open for visit:
Open daily from 8.30am excluding 25th December and 1st January. Evening visits are also available from 10pm-11pm on Saturdays.

9. Burg Eltz

Burg Eltz

Built on a forested hilltop above the river Moselle, this fairytale-like Medieval castle is quite simply stunning! It is 1 of 3 castles on the left bank of the River Rhine that hasn’t been destroyed and remains fully intact, a rarity for Medieval castles, even surviving the bombings of WWII. Containing countless treasures, visitors can step inside on a guided tour to see some of the 100 rooms and realize that fairytale castles do exist!

Where: Wierschem, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
When:
12th century
Style:
Medieval, Gothic
Open for visit:
Yes, open daily from 9.30am during the Summer season (April-October).

10. Castel del Monte

Best Castles in Italy Castel-del-Monte

Built by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, Castel del Monte is a unique piece of medieval military architecture that blends elements from classical antiquity, the Islamic Orient and north European Cistercian Gothic into one with a mathematical and astronomical precision to the layout that’s second to none, it is octagonal in shape with 8 octagonal towers, one at each corner.

Where: Andria, Apulia, Italy.
When:
13th century
Style:
Gothic with other elements
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily excluding 1st January and 25th December.

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11. Alcazar de Segovia

European Castles Alcazar-of-Segovia

One of the most distinctive castle-palaces in Spain and the real-life inspiration for Walt Disney’s Snow White Castle, the Alcazar de Segovia is a marvelous feat of architecture, shaped like the bow of a boat. Step inside this Medieval castle to visit the Hall of Ajimeces with its collection of artwork, the Hall of Kings, the Hall of the Throne, and the prisons and dungeons.

Where: Segovia, Spain
When:
13th century
Style:
Gothic
Open for visit:
Yes open Monday-Sunday from 10am. Closed 24th, 25th, 31st December and 1st and 6th January.

12. Bojnice Castle

Βest Medieval Castles Bojnice-Castle

Looking like it comes straight from the pages of a fairytale, Bonjnice Castle is easily the most picturesque castle in the whole of Slovakia. Standing on the site of an older 11th-century Medieval castle, it is one of the most important and oldest monuments in the country. Step inside to see the collections of art and artifacts in the onsite museum.

Where: Bojnice, Slovakia
When:
12th century
Style:
Gothic-Renaissance
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 9 am June-September and Tuesday-Sunday the rest of the year.

13. Prague Castle

Best Czech Castles Prague Castle

The largest Medieval castle in Europe and the largest coherent castle complex in the world, Prague Castle has a history going back 1,000 years and was once the seat of the Kings of Bohemia. Comprising palaces and ecclesiastical buildings of various architectural styles from the 10th-14th century, today the castle is the seat of the President of the Czech Republic.

Where: Prague, Czech Republic
When:
9th century
Style:
Romanesque/Gothic
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily except for Château Park in Lány which is closed to the public in Winter.

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14. Krivoklat Castle

Best Castles in Czech Krivoklat Castle

One of the oldest and most important seats of Czech Princes and Kings, the medieval fortified castle of Krivoklat stands out from its surroundings thanks to its monumental tower. Similar in style to a French castle, it includes a beautiful Gothic chapel and the Fürstenberg library. Visitors can also explore the dungeon with torture chambers and the King’s Chamber as they learn some Czech history.

Where: Krivoklat, Central Bohemia, Czech Republic
When:
13th century
Style:
Gothic
Open for visit:
Yes. Open weekends only January-March, and Tuesday-Sunday April-December. Closed 24th-26th December

15. Bran Castle

Best castles in Romania Bran-Castle

This iconic medieval fortress is famous for its associated with Count Dracula, the castle being the only one in Transylvania to fit Bram Stoker’s description of Dracula’s Castle and the location for the 1992 movie. Myth and horror movies aside, Bran Castle was built to defend Transylvania’s border on a Teutonic Knights stronghold dating from 1212.

Where: Bran, Brașov, Romania
When:
13th/14th century
Style:
Medieval
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 12 noon Mondays and from 9 am Tuesday-Sunday.

16. Malbork Castle

Medieval Castles Malbork-Castle

A classic example of a Teutonic castle and fortress, Malbork Castle is the largest brick-built castle in the world. Starting as a fortress, Malbork later became a seat of the Grand Master of Teutonic Knights, playing a fundamental role in the defence system of Teutonic Prussia, before becoming a temporary royal residence.

Where: Malbork, Poland
When:
13th century
Style:
Gothic
Open for visit:
Yes. Castle Museum open Tuesday-Sunday from 9 am (10 am in Winter) excluding holidays.

17. Château de Chillon

Famous Medieval Castles Château-de-Chillon

Located on the shores of Lake Geneva with exceptional views of the mountains behind sits the medieval island fortress of Chillon. Owned by the Counts of Savoy between the 12th-16th centuries, today Chateau de Chillon houses a museum showcasing medieval inventions that we still use today as well as medieval wall paintings.

Where: Veytaux, Vaud, Switzerland
When:
12th century
Style:
Medieval / Romanesque
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 9 am (10 am November-February) excluding 1st January and 25th December.

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18. Festung Hohensalzburg

Famous Medieval Castles Festung-Hohensalzburg

This large fully-preserved medieval castle complex was built for the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg and sits at the top of Festungsberg hill. Used as a fortress, gunpowder store, barracks, and prison it was abandoned in 1861. Today visitors can enter through the medieval gates and take a guided tour through the interior rooms and up to the lookout tower.

Where: Salzburg, Austria
When:
11th century
Style:
Medieval/Baroque
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily (including holidays) from 9.30am.

19. Château Gaillard des Andelys

Medieval Castles Château-Gaillard-des-Andelys

Now laying in ruin, this 800-year-old medieval fortified castle was built upon chalk cliffs for Richard the Lionheart, the King of England and Duke of Normandy, as a symbol of political power. Built-in just 2 years and being one of the first castles in Europe to use machicolation (an opening in the floor between the supporting corbels of a battlement, through which stones or boiling water/oil, could be dropped on attackers), today visitors can view the inner bailey.

Where: Les Andelys, Normandy, France
When:
12th century
Style:
Gothic
Open for visit:
Yes. Open April – October from 10 am. Closed Tuesday and 1st of May.

20. Gravensteen

Gravensteen Castle, Belgium

The Castle of the Counts is the only medieval castle to still remain in Flanders with its moat and defense system relatively intact. Used as a court and a prison today, visitors can step inside to see the museum of weapons and torture chambers as well as the gatehouse, ramparts, and keep.

Where: Ghent, Belgium
When:
10th/12th century
Style:
Gothic
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 10 am excluding 24th, 25th, and 31st December and 17th February.

21. Karlštejn Hradd

Best Castles in Czech Karlstejn Castle

This impressive medieval castle was built for Charles IV, the Holy Roman Emperor-elect and King of Bohemia as a place to store royal treasures and holy relics including the crown jewels. Visitors can see the state and private rooms of Emperor Charles IV and/or the sacred rooms of the castle with the chapel of the Holy Cross.

Where: Karlštejn, Prague, Czech Republic
When: 14th century
Style: Gothic
Open for visit: Yes, by guided tour only. Opening hours for the guided tours vary – See website for details.

22. Muiderslot

Medieval Castles Muiderslot

One of the most picturesque medieval castles in Holland, and also one of the best-preserved, Muiderslot Castle, otherwise known as Muiden Castle, is located at the mouth of the River Vecht. Explore its 700 years of history by viewing the restored 17th-century rooms plus collections of armor and weapons at what is now a national museum.

Where: Muiden, North-Holland, Netherlands
When:
12th century
Style:
Renaissance
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily April-October and Tuesday-Sunday November-March. Closed 25th and 31st December and 1st January.

23. Vianden Castle

Best Luxembourger Castles Vianden-Castle

On the hill above the medieval city of Vianden stands a fairytale-like castle-palace. Built on the site of an older Roman castle and Carolingian refuge, Vianden Castle was one of the most impressive feudal residences of the Roman and Gothic eras. Try to visit the castle at the end of July / beginning of August when the castle comes to life with the medieval festival with knight camps and medieval tournament shows.

Where: Vianden, Luxembourg
When:
11th-14th century
Style:
Gothic
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 10 am. Closed 25th December and 1st January.

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24.Hochosterwitz

Famous Medieval Castles Hochosterwitz

One of Austria’s most impressive and imposing medieval castles/strongholds, Hochosterwitz is a rock-castle that towers above the valley at 172 meters. Regarded as the model of a medieval castle, and boasting 14 castle gates, the exterior has changed very little since the 16th century and has been owned by the Khevenhüller family since 1571.

Where: Launsdorf, Austria
When:
14th century
Style:
Renaissance
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from April – October.

25. Wawel Castle

Best Medieval Castles Wawel-Castle

Built for King Casimir III the Great, the fortified complex that includes Wawel Castle and Wawel Royal Cathedral is made up of nearly all European architectural styles. Overlooking the Vistula River atop Wawel Hill, the Royal Castle was home to the Polish ruler until the capital of Poland was moved to Warsaw from which point the castle was used as a military hospital and later, became the headquarters of the Nazi Governor-General.

Where: Krakow, Poland
When:
13th-14th centuries
Style:
Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance
Open for visit:
Yes. Open Monday-Sunday excluding 1st January, Easter Saturday and Sunday, 1st and 11th November and 24th, 25th December. Note that all exhibitions are closed Mondays between November-March.

26. Kaiserburg Nürnberg

Medieval Castles Kaiserburg-Nürnberg

One of the most formidable fortifications in Europe, Nuremberg Castle, complete with the double chapel was an important imperial palace of the old Holy Roman Empire, later becoming a residential palace for King Maximilian II who completed the works of his father, King Ludwig II.

Where: Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany
When:
13th-14th century
Style:
Medieval
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 9 am (10 am Winter) excluding 1st January, Shrove Tuesday, and 24th, 25th, 31st December.

27. Castello di Tirol

Famous Castles in Italy Castel-Tirolo

The ancestral seat of the Counts of Tyrol, Tirol Castle, or Tyrol as it’s better known, is the symbol of the area. Retaining its chapel which has gothic frescoes as well as impressive portals, the castle interior today is home of the South Tyrolean Museum of Culture and Provincial History.

Where: Tirol, Italy
When:
13th century
Style:
Romanesque
Open for visit:
Yes. Open from 10 am Tuesday-Sunday from March 15th – December 8

28. Schloss Tarasp

Best Medieval Castles Schloss-Tarasp

Built for the Lords of Tarasp, and originally belonging to Austria, this 1,000-year-old fairytale-like castle is the only in the area not to be in ruin all thanks to a mouthwash inventor who saved and restored it! See the medieval keep, the Romanesque Chapel of St John’s and admire the courtyard before stepping inside to admire the wall paintings from the late middle ages.

Where: Lower Engadin, Graubünden, Switzerland
When:
11th century
Style:
Renaissance
Open for visit:
Yes. Open Tuesday-Sunday end of May until end October and Friday’s only from 23rd October-21st December.

29. Spišský Hrad

Famous Medieval Castles Spišský-Hrad

This 800-year-old ruined medieval castle is one of the largest castle complexes in Central Europe covering more than 40,000 square meters. Comprising the upper castle and middle and lower courtyard Spis Castle, as it’s called in English, rises up 634 meters above sea level from its hilltop position and has been the site of human occupation since Neolithic times.

Where: Žehra, Spiš, Slovakia
When:
12th century
Style:
Romanesque
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 9 am April-October. Closed November-March.

30. Pfalzgrafenstein

Castles in Germany Pfalzgrafenstein-Castle

Sitting on a tiny island in the middle of the River Rhine sits a picturesque boat-shaped toll-station castle. Built-in an unusual pentagon-shape to give the look of the bow of a boat, this castle was once a stronghold built by King Ludwig as a means to collect money. Visitors can learn the fascinating history of the castle on a pre-booked guided tour led by costumed guides or simply sail by and admire the exterior on a ferry ride.

Where: Pfalz Island, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
When:
14th century
Style:
Baroque
Open for visit:
By appointment only and dependant on ferry times due to the tide.

31. Castelvecchio

Castles in Italy Castelvecchio

Once the most important military construction of the Scaliger dynasty during the Middle Ages, the fortress of Castle Vecchio is also a bridge, the construction connecting the castle to the left bank of the Adige River. Walk across admiring the view and noting the feat of engineering before entering what is now the civic Castelvecchio Museum with its collections of medieval, renaissance and modern art.

Where: Verona, Italy
When:
14th century
Style:
Gothic-Renaissance
Open for visit:
Yes. Museum open 1.30pm-7.30pm Monday and from 8.30am-7.30pm Tuesday-Sunday.

 

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