Castles spur imaginative stories of war, imaginative nights in a high tower hideaway and soldiers halting the enemies’ advances. These architectural works of art remain
10. Edinburgh Castle
More than a million visitors each year gaze upon Edinburgh Castle, which graces the skyline of Edinburgh, Scotland. The rich history of this castle goes back centuries and includes conflicts like the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century and the Jacobite Riding of 1745. The site has been settled since at least 2nd century AD, and a royal castle has stood on Castle Rock since the 12th century. If you’re thinking of travelling to Edinburgh, check out Lothian Buses to see how easy it can be to travel around the city.
Edinburgh Castle lies in an extinct volcanic crag. It stretches 35,737 square meters. Its name comes from “Din Eidyn,” which means “the fortress of Eidyn.”
9. Citadel of Aleppo
The Citadel of Aleppo is one of the oldest and biggest castles in the world. It sits on Citadel Hill in the center of Aleppo, a city in northern Syria. The partly preserved medieval fortified palace built by the Byzantines in the 13th century covers 39,804 square meters.
The usage of the site goes back to the third millennium B.C. and the city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unfortunately, that doesn’t save it from harm as its suffered significant damage in the ongoing Syrian Civil War. It’s now among six Syrian World Heritage sites on the UNESCO World Heritage in Danger list.
8. Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle has a rich history dating back centuries. Samurai Akamatsu Norimura built a fort at the site, located in the japan prefecture of Hyogo, in 1333. Himeyama Castle was built on the site in 1346 and remodeled into Himeji Castle two centuries later. Japanese samurai and daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi, considered Japan’s second great unifier for bringing an end to the Warring States period, remodeled the castle and added a three-story castle keep in 1581. That’s just the beginning.
The 41,468-square meter castle includes 83 buildings dating back to the feudal period. One of the biggest castles in the world, it’s Japan’s largest and most visited castle in Japan and one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites recognized in the country.
7. Buda Castle
Budapest’s Castle Hill flourished as the site for royalty since 1247, when it housed the home of Hungary’s King Bela IV. Stephen, the Duke of Slavonia and the younger brother of Hungary’s King Louis I, built the castle keep known as Stephen’s Tower in the 14th century. Holy Roman Emperor King Sigismund called it home during the Middle Ages after enlarging and fortifying the palace against Mongol raiders.
The site saw its share of invaders and attackers including the Ottoman Turks who sieged and occupied the site then repeatedly tried to re-occupy it, seriously damaging it during the attacks. The original palace met its end when allied Christian forces captured it in 1686. It would be built and rebuilt, falling victim to Nazi forces then the Soviet Red Army during World War II. The 44,674 square meter Buda Castle remains today as a popular tourist attraction but its original interior didn’t make it through the war.
6. Spis Castle
Spis Castle, one of the biggest castles in the world, is located in eastern Slovakia. The site’s seen its share of damage as the original castle complex built in the 12th century collapsed in earthquakes. It was rebuilt a century later then converted into a home for Hungarian royal families. The 49,485 square meter Spis Castle is now mostly ruins after a fire in 1789 destroyed much of it. The site was used for shooting many films.
5. Hohensalzburg Castle
Hohensalzburg Castle remains the main tourist attraction in the city of Salzburg, Austria. It dates back to 1077 and, enlarged between 1495 and 1519, became one of the europe’s largest fortresses. Commanded by Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach, the castle holds the distinction of being one of very few in Austria that were never captured by enemies.
The 54,523 square meter castle today includes a fortress museum with collections of historic weapons, instruments, and Roman coins.
4. Windsor Castle
The 54,835 square meter Windsor Castle in England’s Berkshire county serves as a weekend getaway for England’s Queen Elizabeth II. It’s the biggest castle in England and one of the biggest castles in the world. Highlights include Queen Mary’s dollhouse and a burial site for ten monarchs including Henry VIII. Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and is open to tourists.
3. Prague Castle
The Guinness Book of World Records lists the 66,761 square meter Prague Castle as the largest coherent castle complex in the world. Its history is believed ti date back to around 880 A.D. when it was built by Prince Borovoj, the first Czech prince to adopt Christianity. Prague Castle has housed religious leaders and Holy Roman emperors and now serves as a house for heads of state.
2. Mehrangarh Fort
The Mehrangarh Fort found in Jodhpur, Rajasthan was built around 1460 when Rao Jodha became the 15th Rathore ruler and sought a replacement for the thousand years old Mandore Fort. The fort’s history includes a tale that Rao Jodha displaced a hermit known as the “lord of birds” to build it. The hermit, Cheeria Nathji, allegedly cursed the castle to suffer from a water shortage which it does every three to four years. The fort covers 81,227 square meters and includes several palaces.
1. Malbork Castle
The 143,591 square meter Malbork Castle in Poland tops the list of biggest castles in the world. The fortified complex dates back to the 13th century when the Teutonic Knights, a roman Catholic religious order of crusaders based in Germany, built it. The castle once held about 3,000 “brothers in arms” and became the largest fortified Gothic building in Europe. Its outermost walls could fit four castles the size of Windsor Castle inside.
Malbork Castle would house Polish kings after Polish forces took over the town of Marienburg in 1460. Swedish forces occupied it twice in the 1600s, during the Thirty Years’ War and the Deluge. More than half of the castle was later destroyed during World War II. The castle today is an official Polish historic monument and includes a museum with items from the Teutonic Knights.