famous castle germany

Exploring the Enchanted: 14 Magical Fairytale Castles Around the World

As an enthusiast of all things fantasy and magic, exploring enchanting fairytale castles was a natural choice. Each holds its unique charm, from the breathtaking Matsumoto Castle in Japan to the unique fortress Swallow’s Nest in Ukraine. 

Many of these castles not only evoke a whimsical atmosphere as you wander through their halls and gardens but also have a rich historical significance. Some have even inspired timeless fairytales we all cherish. 

Whether you’re drawn to the enchantment of Cinderella’s tale, the intrigue of Dracula’s legend, or simply admire the grandeur of medieval architecture, these fairytale castles promise to ignite your imagination. 

1. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle
Image Credit: SCStock/Shutterstock.

Neuschwanstein Castle was built in Germany in the late 19th century and exemplifies the Romanesque Revival style. It reportedly inspired Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. However, its real history is less enchanting. 

Commissioned by the reclusive Bavarian King Ludwig II as a private retreat, the castle was not completed until after his death, and Ludwig spent only a few nights there. Ironically, the castle was opened to the public soon after his death.

2. Belém Tower, Portgugal

belem tower portugal
Image Credit: LucVi/Shutterstock.

The Torre de Belém, or Belém Tower, stands proudly on the Tagus River in Lisbon. Crafted from local limestone, its 100-foot tower and bastion are a testament to the 16th-century Manueline architecture. More than just a structure, the tower symbolizes Portugal’s age of exploration and the spirit of its legendary explorers like Vasco da Gama.

Together with the nearby Jeronimos Monastery, it forms a UNESCO World Heritage site, a testament to its historical significance. Accessible by a pedestrian bridge, the tower appears to defy gravity, marking the gateway to Lisbon with its timeless elegance.

3. Bobolice Castle, Poland

bobolice castle poland
Image Credit: konradkerker/Shutterstock.

Built in the 1300s, Bobolice Castle in its namesake village was part of a 14th-century fortification network protecting Poland’s border. Damaged in the 17th century, the castle was reconstructed in the 20th century. 

With its cylindrical towers, the castle has a fairytale look, but its history is richer. Changing hands often, it reportedly housed treasure in its cellars and tunnels, discovered in the 19th century. Legends of hidden gold, star-crossed lovers, and ghosts of past inhabitants surround Bobolice’s intriguing past.

4. Burg Eltz, Germany

burg eltz castle
Image Credit: leoks/Shutterstock.

Burg Eltz, or Eltz Castle, is located in Germany near Trier. Nestled in the scenic Moselle River Valley, the castle features 100-foot towers and houses artifacts spanning 800 years, making it visually and historically remarkable. 

The castle’s surroundings, with their lush greenery and meandering river, create a picturesque setting that is a delight for nature-loving travelers.

5. Michael’s Mount, England

michael's mount england
Image Credit: Pajor Pawel/Shutterstock.

This castle in Cornwall, England, sits atop St. Michael’s Mount, a tidal island connected to the mainland by a cobbled walkway accessible during mid and low tide. At high tide, visitors must travel by boat. 

The earliest buildings on the island date back to the 1100s, and the Saint Aubyn family has resided in the castle since the 17th century. The castle is surrounded by a terraced garden and is overseen by the National Trust.

6. Alcázar of Segovia, Spain

Alcázar of Segovia
Image Credit: Ivan Niandra/Shutterstock.

During Moorish rule on the Iberian Peninsula, architects built Alcázars as fortifications and palaces. The Alcázar of Segovia is one of the most visually stunning examples. It is perched on a rock above a river valley and shaped like a ship’s bow. It was featured in the 1960s musical Camelot and is said to have inspired Disney’s Cinderella Castle.  

Before the royal court moved to Madrid, it was a residence for rulers, including Queen Isabella I. In 1762, the Alcázar became a prison and a military academy. Segovia’s Old Town, including the Alcázar, cathedral, and Roman aqueduct, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

7. Chateau de Chenonceau, France

Château de Chenonceau
Image Credit: D.Bond/Shutterstock.

The Château de Chenonceau, unlike typical towering fairytale palaces, gracefully spans the River Cher in France with arches allowing water to flow beneath it. Its architecture blends late Gothic and early Renaissance styles. 

Formal gardens and an Italian maze surround the château. The castle features vibrant decorations, period furnishings, and meticulously preserved paintings.

8. Doune Castle, Scotland

doune castle scotland
Image Credit: Nataliya Hora/Shutterstock.

Most of Doune Castle in Stirling, Scotland, has remained intact since the 14th century. Built in a single phase with minimal alterations, it incorporates elements from the late 13th century. 

While the exterior shows signs of weathering, the interior halls are well-preserved. Located in a rural setting, Doune Castle was extensively used for filming Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

9. Matsumoto Castle, Japan

Matsumoto Castle, Japan
Image Credit: anek.soowannaphoom/Shutterstock.

Constructed in the 16th century, Matsumoto Castle is located in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. It is uniquely situated on a plain rather than amidst surrounding mountains. The castle is fortified by a system of moats, gates, and a towering keep, creating a picturesque landscape admired by visitors today.

The castle’s wooden interior remains largely intact, and its outer gardens, adorned with cherry blossom trees, bloom in spring. The grounds also host torchlit “Takigi Noh” plays and traditional Taiko drum festivals.

10. Swallow’s Nest, Ukraine

swallows nest ukraine
Image Credit: Freephotographer/Shutterstock.

The Swallow’s Nest was meticulously designed to captivate visitors with its enchanting fairytale appearance. This small, neo-Gothic decorative castle perches dramatically on the 130-foot tall Aurora Cliff overlooking the Black Sea. 

Situated in the resort town near Yalta on Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, the castle was constructed in the early 20th century. Measuring just 60 feet by 33 feet, it replaced a previous wooden structure that once occupied the cliff’s edge. Despite its modest size, the Swallow’s Nest is a striking landmark, drawing countless admirers with its picturesque charm.

11. Chateau de Chambord, France

Chateau de Chambord
Image Credit: Oligoo/Shutterstock.

Chateau de Chambord, a globally recognized fairytale castle, epitomizes the French Renaissance style and is one of the largest in the Loire Valley, boasting over 400 rooms. Its exquisite exterior and interior designs are marvels of craftsmanship.

Expansive gardens and grounds surround Chambord, offering a picturesque setting ideal for leisurely walks on sunny days. Notably, its iconic double-helix staircase, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, adds to its allure and makes it a must-visit destination.

12. Hohenzollern Castle, Germany

Hohenzollern Castle
Image Credit: Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock.

Hohenzollern Castle in Germany has seen three iterations on its site. The first castle, constructed in the 11th century, fell to ruin by 1423. Its successor, built in the mid-15th century, gradually decayed and was abandoned in the 18th century.

The current castle was erected between 1850 and 1867 during the reign of King Frederick William IV of Prussia. Its impressive Neo-Gothic architecture continues to awe visitors who explore the castle and its museum, which notably houses a letter from US President George Washington.

13. Castle Bran, Romania

bran castle
Image Credit: Kanuman/Shutterstock.

The original castle at the site of Bran Castle was erected in 1212 by the Teutonic Knights, initially in wood. It was later rebuilt in stone in 1377.

Bran Castle gained fame for its association with Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. A national monument and iconic landmark of Transylvania, it is often dubbed Dracula’s Castle due to its location. However, the well-preserved Bran Castle today bears no resemblance to the crumbling structure depicted in Stoker’s novel.

14. Bojnice Castle, Slovakia

Bojnice Castle, Slovakia
Image Credit: Radu Cadar/Shutterstock.

Bojnice Castle, one of Slovakia’s oldest and most picturesque castles, seamlessly blends Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance architectural styles. Nestled amidst a stunning parkland setting, its origins trace back to the 12th century, with subsequent expansions and renovations adding charm and historical significance.

Renowned for its fairytale ambiance, Bojnice Castle is celebrated as one of Europe’s most romantic castles. Its captivating facade, adorned with ornate details and turrets, overlooks scenic landscapes that enhance its allure. Visitors are enchanted by its rich history, from its medieval beginnings to its transformation into a UNESCO gem that attracts guests worldwide.

With a passion for travel, great food, and beautiful art, Julie put aside her 15-year career in the tech industry and dove head-first into a more creative sphere. Utilizing her degree in Communications, she is pursuing freelance writing. An avid traveler, Julie has experience writing and documenting the amazing spots she has visited and explored, the delicious food she has tasted, and the incredible art she has admired and purchased! When she’s not writing, she can be spotted around Austin, TX, at various art gallery openings, having a delicious meal with her husband and friends, and playing with her two dogs.