The 10 Most Romantic, Picturesque Castles From Around the World

Romantic Castles for Lovers - of Architecture

Bamburgh Castle daytime with people walking on beach

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At the center of every fairy tale is a castle with towers and battlements. Never mind that the Middle Ages was really a tough period to live through — the original castles were rustic fortresses designed for war. Centuries later, castles became lavish and often fanciful expressions of power, wealth, and luxury. For castle enthusiasts everywhere, here are some of the world's most romantic castles, including medieval castles and modern-day recreations of castle architecture.

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Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany

Germany, Bavaria, Hohenschwangau, Neuschwanstein Castle

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The 19th-century romanticization of castles was encouraged in part by the Arts and Crafts movement in England. The anti-industrial writings of John Ruskin and the Gothic Revival promotion by William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood glamorized the hand-crafted work of medieval guildsmen. Thinkers of the 1800s rejected the Industrial Revolution by glorifying the past. The best example of this movement may be found in Bavaria, Germany.

Neuschwanstein Castle is often compared to the castle in Disney's "Sleeping Beauty". King Ludwig II ("Mad King Ludwig") began constructing Neuschwanstein castle in the late 1800s. Modeled after Medieval architecture, the castle was planned as a homage to the grand operas of Wagner.

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Dunguaire Castle in Ireland

Dunguaire Castle

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With its 75 foot tower, the 16th century Dunguaire Castle is one of the most often photographed castles in Ireland. On your trip to the Emerald Island, however, you may want to stay at the luxury Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort in Limerick. There's an abundance of romance sprinkled in every corner of Ireland.

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Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain

Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain

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Perched on a hilly terrace on the southern edge of Granada, Spain, Alhambra is an ancient palace and fortress complex with stunning frescoes and interior details.

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Johnstown Castle in Ireland

Johnstown Castle, near Wexford City

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Overlooking a river, the turreted Johnstown Castle looks like a medieval castle, but it was actually built in Victorian times.

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Oheka Castle on Long Island, New York

The evening view of chateau-like early 20th century estate Oheka Castle.

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The North Shore of Long Island is dotted with mansions built during the Gilded Age of American architecture. Otto H. Kahn's vacation home, Oheka, is one of the most accessible to visitors of the Gold Coast estates.

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Biltmore Estate in North Carolina

Exploring Biltmore Estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina

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The US isn't old enough to have Medieval castles, but it does have some Victorian-era mansions that come close. With 255 rooms, the magnificent Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina is often called an American castle. It was constructed in the late 1800s and is the perfect setting for a romantic, special event. In fact, the entire Asheville area has been named a top venue for Baby Boomer retirees.

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Hearst Castle in California

Hearst Castle, San Simeon, San Luis Obispo County

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Architect Julia Morgan designed this lavish modern-day "castle" for publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst. Furnished with Spanish and Italian antiques, the romantic Moorish home has 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways. Built in the 1920s and 1930s, Hearst Castle at San Simeon is a must-stop for the gentle traveler from San Francisco to Los Angeles. It also gives a reality to the Orson Welles film "Citizen Kane", as the movie character of Charles Foster Kane is said to be based on William Randolph Hearst.

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Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands, New York

Historic Heart Island and Boldt Castle in upstate New York

Danita Delimont / Gallo Images Collection / Getty Images

Boldt Castle is not a medieval castle, of course, but a modern interpretation. It's a jigsaw puzzle of medieval and Victorian styles pieced together by a wealthy American businessman. Like many homes from America's Gilded Age, the eleven-building complex is exuberant and outrageous, as though its creators had taken five hundred years of architectural history and spilled it across the craggy island.

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Prague Castle in the Czech Republic

Prague Castle

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Prague Castle in the Hradcany royal complex has towered above the river Vltava for a thousand years. As a city of bridges, Prague provides the pathways to a rich history of colorful architecture.

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Kronborg Castle in Denmark

Kronborg Castle at early morning, Denmark

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Castles can be the setting for romance novels — or Shakespearean tragedies. The Royal Castle of Kronborg in Denmark is one such place. In literature, the port city of Helsingør became Hamlet's Elsinore and the strategically placed castle became the setting for the young Dane's angst. The four-sided castle was begun in 1574 and became known for both its strategic location and Renaissance beauty. Function and beauty — that's what architecture (and love) is all about!

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Craven, Jackie. "The 10 Most Romantic, Picturesque Castles From Around the World." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Craven, Jackie. (2023, April 5). The 10 Most Romantic, Picturesque Castles From Around the World. Retrieved from Craven, Jackie. "The 10 Most Romantic, Picturesque Castles From Around the World." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 3, 2023).