The 10 Most Romantic, Picturesque Castles From Around the World

Romantic Castles for Lovers - of Architecture

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.

Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria
Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images News Collection/Getty Images

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. More »

Dunguaire Castle Photo © Dennis Flaherty / Getty Images
Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara, County Galway, Ireland. Dunguaire Castle Photo © Dennis Flaherty / Getty Images

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. More »

Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain
Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. Photo by Marek Stefunko / Moment / Getty Images
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. More »
Johnstown Castle Photo © Medioimages/Photodisc, Getty Images
Johnstown Castle sits alongside a river in County Wexford, Ireland. Johnstown Castle Photo © Medioimages/Photodisc, Getty Images
Overlooking a river, the turreted Johnstown Castle looks like a medieval castle, but it was actually built in Victorian times. More »
Dining inside Oheka Castle in Huntington, New York, ballroom ceiling with large coffer, 2 chand.
Inside Oheka Castle on January 12, 2012 in Huntington, New York. Inside Oheka Castle. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
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. More »
Exploring Biltmore Estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina
Exploring Biltmore Estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. Photo by George Rose / Getty Images News / Getty Images (cropped)

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. Blue Ridge Mountains or bust! More »

The Exterior Pool at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California
The Exterior Pool at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. Photo by Lisa Noble / Moment Mobile / Getty Images (cropped)

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 Franciso 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. More »

Historic Heart Island and Boldt Castle in upstate New York
Historic Heart Island and Boldt Castle in upstate New York. Photo by Danita Delimont/Gallo Images Collection/Getty Images (cropped)
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. More »
Man lying in grass with flowering trees an Prague Castle in background
Prague's Spring in the Czech Republic. Photo by Matej Divizna / Getty Images News / Getty Images

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. More »

Inside Castle Kronborg
Inside Castle Kronborg. Photo by Rob Ball / Contributor / Getty Images (cropped)

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 Elsinor 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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