When it comes to travel, history is such a momentous part of the adventure. Whether you're in France or New England, there is a story to be told. A story of struggle, a story of triumph. Dozens of decades of people have walked those roads. They may have even been the ones to build them. Although we may not be able to meet the people who made history, we can still see many of the bones from it. It lives in the architecture and remains from what used to be. Castles are the best example of this. Generally associated with royalty, castles have some of the richest history. Chateau de Versailles, for example, saw one of the most epic triumphs of the French revolution. Windsor Castle has the longest timeline of royalty living in it. No other castle in the world has been home to a royal family as long. It's these details that give the beautifully built pieces of art their character. There are hundreds of castles in the world but here are 10 that should definitely be on your bucket list.
Balmoral Castle | Scotland
Balmoral Castle has served as a holiday vacation home of the British Royal Family. They have privately owned the property since 1852 and the architectural design is considered to be an example of Historic Scotland. The original castle was broken down for the one we can see today, rebuilt in 1856. The castle is open to tours and you can even stay in it for a few nights pretending you're royalty.
Castle de Haar | Netherlands
Castle de Haar is the largest castle in The Netherlands. The castle represents a luxurious lifestyle from the 20th century well-to-do families enjoyed. It is also a mecca of art and history. The castle has a medieval-like fortress with towers, moats, gates and drawbridges. It's truly an experience unlike any other...well, in The Netherlands at least. It is now a museum guests can visit.
Castle Hohenschwangau | Germany
Castle 'H,' as we'll call it, is a 19th century castle in the south of Germany. I'm not quite sure exactly when this castle was built because the history I was able to find is a bit confusing but the 19th century seems to be the time when it was given its current name. The castle is atop a hill with beautiful views of the surrounding landscapes and has a history that goes back as far as the 12th century.
Amboise is my favorite town in France. This village, located in the Loire Valley, has a castle at the top that is absolutely gorgeous. The view from the top is additionally spectacular. Leonardo di Vinci is presumably buried in the chapel (depending on if you ask the French or the Italian) and you can visit his home farther into the town where he spent his final years of life. It truly takes you back in time and is worth the trip.
Château de Chambord | France
There were 4 castles I had the pleasure of visiting in the Loire Valley. Chambord, along with Amboise, were two of them and Chambord is massive. The architecture is distinctively from the French Renaissance era with a traditional medieval style. It is the largest château in the Loire Valley which says a lot because there are many. The grounds are absolutely gorgeous and vast which makes sense since it was used as a hunting lodge for a former French king.
Château de Chenonceau | France
Chenonceau is a third castle in the collection I've already started and it is by far the most beautiful. Built over the River Cher, it is a magnificent piece of art. The arches you see at the base above the river were created for boats to pass through underneath and avoid flooding when the water rose. The interior is just as beautiful as the outside with checkered floors you'd only see in movies and enormous ceilings. The château expands farther out onto the land with several other buildings and fairy tale grounds. Tip: Take a boat tour early in the morning for a glimpse of the château at its best.
Château de Versailles | France
It seems wrong not to include Versailles on this list. Known as the home of Marie Antoinette, this is also the château that was stormed by the French people in an effort to officially bring down the crown. Sadly, they destroyed a lot of the artwork and furniture in their rage but not all of it was ruined and boy is it something else. The patterns and detail in each room's design are truly breathtaking and some in an overwhelmingly sort of way. A must is the Petit Trianon which was Marie's personal getaway.
Mont Saint-Michel | Normandy
Mont Saint-Michel is kind of on its own little island. It's apart from the mainland and has a tiny population of only a few dozen people. It has an incredibly rich history starting as a monastery which it remained for most of its life and survived conquering during the Hundred Years' War and made it through World War II even though it was conquered by the Nazi's for a time.
Neuschwanstein Castle | Germany
This gorgeous, massive castle was built for a shy king. King Ludwig II wanted to get away from a public life and built this home to withdraw. It's reminiscent of fairy tale castles in Disney movies which is most likely why it's one of the most visited castles in Europe with more than 1.4 million visitors each year.
Peleș Castle | Romania
Peles is another fairy-tale-like castle. Built on top of a mountain, this was the first castle to be completely powered with local electricity. It was literally a piece of art since King Carol I denied several plans as "unoriginal." The final design was unique in its own way mixing several European styles popular at the time. It now houses a small museum open to the public.
Predjama Castle | Slovenia
I couldn't help but include this castle. It looks like it's built into a mountain and almost like something you would see in Lord of the Rings. By the way, it was actually built into a mountain in the 13th century. It was done on purpose to make access difficult. Look into the secret passageway that has an interesting legend about a lord who liked to instigate soldiers by throwing cherries at them.
There are obviously dozens, even hundreds of other castles throughout the world that are worthwhile to visit. These are simply ten of our favorites that we've visited or have on our bucket list. I am dying to travel to Eastern Europe. The history and the beauty of the countries there is impossible to ignore. One day soon! Which castle do you want to visit most?