The castles of the world are some of the most popular historic sites on the planet. The list of world castles is as varied as it is long and contains everything from world famous castles to hidden castles and ruined castles which are now but a shadow of their former glory.
The castles that we know today really began appearing from around 800-1000AD in Europe. As more countries took on a feudal structure, local lords and nobles began building castles to secure their hold over their particularl fiefdom. Later, castles began to be constructed in a more connected fashion, by increasingly-powerful kings developing more cohesive military systems – a good example of this trend was seen after the Norman conquest of England in 1066AD.
Castles were used to secure a military hold over an area as well as providing a base to both defend and launch attacking raids in un-subdued territory. However, these fortifications were also used as status symbols, grand residences and even became vital administrative centres. In time, castles sprang up throughout Europe and, with the advent of the Crusades, castles were increasingly common in the Middle East and North Africa.
However, the development of gunpowder-based weaponry – particularly artillery – meant that the military importance of the castle declined and soon castles became militarily defunct. However, the cachet associated with castles remained and many of the wealthier classes continued to build castles as grand private homes, ensuring that the list of castles of the world we have today kept growing throughout the centuries.
Nowadays, castle enthusiasts can explore castles in many different countries. The list of castles of the world is immense and can be fascinating to explore. Indeed, the castles of the world appeal to both family day trippers, casual travellers and ardent historians alike, making castles some of the most popular tourist attractions.
We’ve pulled together a list of some of the most interesting castles around the world as well as some of the biggest castles and the most famous castles in the world. Our list of world castles continues to grow and you can explore using the world castles map above or the list of world castles below. Click on each castle for further information, map location, directions and entry details.
Schwerin Castle is a picturesque palace and once the home of the dukes of Mecklenburg.
Leeds Castle in Kent was a 12th century stronghold which has since served as a royal palace, a prison and as a stately home.
Perhaps the best preserved example of a Crusader fortress in existence today, the magnificent fortress of Krak des Chevaliers is a stunning example of Medieval military architecture.
Ranking high on any list of castles of the world, Castel del Monte is an impressive 13th century fortified palace of Frederick II listed by UNESCO.
Aalborghus Castle is a 16th century castle in northern Denmark which includes the fascinating old dungeons.
Acton Burnell Castle is a picturesque ruined English manor and castle near Shrewsbury.
A grand medieval castle commissioned by Saladin, Ajlun Castle is an excellent example of Ayyubid-era fortifications which is now a tourist attraction and museum.
Akershus Fortress in Olso has been a vital stronghold and royal residence since the fourteenth century.
With Hellenistic foundations, this magnificent Seljuk ruin sits atop a 250m high peninsular overlooking the Mediterranean sea.
Merida's Alcazaba Fortress was a castle fortress built in the middle of the 9th century of which only part remains today.
Ranking among the most famous castles in the world, the Alcazar of Segovia is an imposing medieval fortress turned royal palace.
Ever wanted to head to Hogwarts? Why not visit Alnwick Castle? This historic site in Northumberland is home to the Harry Potter Franchise and is one of the largest castles in England.
One of many fascinating Nordic castles, Amalienborg Slot is an 18th century royal palace in north Copenhagen.
Anadolu Hisari was built by the Ottoman Sultan Beyazid I in 1395 and is among many Ottoman castles that is definitely worth visiting today.
Perhaps one of the lesser known castles of the world, Arsuf is an amazing Crusader castle once occupied by the Knights Hospitaller.
Ranking high on any list of castles of the world, the 11th century Arundel Castle is the historic home of the Dukes of Norfolk and has been continually occupied and renovated over the centuries.
One of the most beatuful castle ruins in the UK, Ashby Castle was a Royalist stronghold destroyed after the English Civil War.
Baba Vida Fortress is one of the most - if not actually the most - well-preserved medieval castles in Bulgaria.
Ranking among the most famous castles in the world, Balmoral Castle has been the official Highlands home of the British royals since Queen Victoria.
One of many castles around the world with a rich history, Bamburgh Castle is a grand structure which looms high upon a crag overlooking the coast of Northumberland.
Barnard Castle contains the ruins of a Norman stronghold which was later owned by Richard III.
Beaumaris Castle was to be the largest of King Edward’s iron ring of castles intended to encircle Wales.
Berat is a popular historic town in Albania containing an impressive 13th century castle which looms above the town.
Berkeley Castle was originally built nearly 1,000 years ago, but since then has undergone a number of changes and has been the site of many interesting – and sometimes bloody – events.
Berkhamsted Castle was a medieval stronghold, the ruins of which lie in Berkhamsted, Herts, UK.
Berwick Castle was a medieval castle, the ruins of which are located in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Northumberland.
The ruins of the medieval Bishop’s Waltham Palace and castle can be seen in Hampshire, UK.
Blarney Castle is a 15th century stone castle in Cork, Ireland, and is home to the famous Blarney Stone.
Perhaps one of England’s best known moated castles, Bodiam Castle was built in 1385. The castle suffered during the English Civil War and was restored before being bequeathed to the National Trust. It now ranks among the most beautiful castles in the world.
Bodrum Castle in Turkey is a fifteenth century citadel built by Christian knights and houses the Museum of Underwater Archaeology.
One of the oldest castles in the world, Bojnice Castle is said to be Slovakia's most romantic castle, and has a history dating to the twelth century.
Once the site of a medieval fortress before its replacement with an ornate 17th century manor house, Bolsover Castle is today run by English Heritage.
Borgholm Castle is a picturesque ruined medieval castle on the Swedish island of Öland which is now a popular tourist attraction.
A ruined medieval stronghold near Glasgow, Bothwell Castle played a key role in the Scottish Wars of Independence.
Oddly linked to the myth of Dracula, Bran Castle is an impressive medieval fortification in Romania which actually has very little to do with the famous vampire legend. Still worth a visit though.
Situated on the border of Oxfordshire, Broughton Castle is surrounded by a three acre moat, and set amongst the scenic parkland of Broughton park.
One of the biggest castles in the world, Buda Castle is a vast palace in Budapest’s Castle Quarter housing a series of museums including the National Gallery.
Among the more picturesque of the world’s castles, Burg Rheinfels was an imposing medieval fort, the dramatic ruins of which lie in St Goar in Germany.
The Burgkloster was a medieval monastery and castle turned poorhouse, court and Nazi prison.
Byblos is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, and contains a twelth century Crusader castle.
Set in truly jaw-dropping Scottish countryside, Caerlaverock Castle was an important fortification, providing defence for the Scottish crown in a period of deep rooted rivalry with England.
One of many castles of the world that is now popular with tourists, Caernarfon Castle is a stunning medieval stronghold in Wales built by Edward I.
Caerphilly Castle is a vast thirteenth century Anglo-Norman stronghold built to defend against Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. Certainly ranking high among any list of the most picturesque castles of the world.
Camber Castle is a huge 16th century castle and fortification built by famous English king Henry VIII.
Near the top of any list of world castles, Carcassonne is a UNESCO listed fortified town in France with a history dating back to before the Roman era.
One of the oldest castles in the world, Cardiff Castle is a medieval complex with a diverse history dating back to the Romans.
Carrickfergus Castle is a Norman-built fortification which was in continual use as a military stronghold for over 700 years.
Castel Sant Angelo was the tomb of the Roman Emperor Hadrian later used as a mediecal castle.
Castell de Bellver is a striking 14th century citadel near Palma in Majorca.
Castello di San Michele is a medieval castle turned luxury home, hospital and museum.
The Castle of Almourol is a medieval castle built by the Knights Templar on an islet in the Tagus River.
One of the oldest castles in the world, Castelo dos Mouros is a picturesque ruined castle with a history dating back to the eighth century.
Castelvecchio Museum and Fortress is a fourteenth century medieval castle which now hosts a fine art gallery and museum.
Chapultepec Castle was once the home of Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg and now houses Mexico’s National History Museum
Castillo de San Andres is the pretty ruin of an 18th, perhaps 17th, century fortification in Tenerife.
Castillo de San Jose is a dramatic cliff-top eighteenth century fort built to protect Lanzarote’s main port from pirate attacks.
Castle Acre Priory was an eleventh century monastery built on a former castle site and dissolved by King Henry VIII.
Castle Drogo is an early 20th century country home constructed in the style of a mediaeval castle. This impressive building is now owned by the National Trust and open to visitors.
Castle Keep in Newcastle upon Tyne is one of the city’s most famous attractions and one of the best preserved Norman fortifications in the country.
An example of the reach of European castle architecture, the Castle of Good Hope is the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa.
One of many surviving Crusader castles, the Castle of the Knights in Kos was the one of the fortifications of the Knights Hospitaller.
Castle Chillon is a beautiful fort using Lake Geneva and a moat created between a small island and the mainland for defense.
Chateau de Prangins is an eighteenth century French style castle and home to one of the branches of the Swiss National Museum.
The Citadel of Salah Ed-Din is a Crusader castle situated in Syria which was captured by Saladin and is now a World Heritage site.
One of many castles of the world that is now popular with tourists, Clifford’s Tower is a 13th century castle with a diverse history.
A beautifully preserved Norman stronghold with a rich history dating back to Roman times, Colchester Castle was built on the site of the Temple of Claudius.
Conwy Castle was one of a ring of medieval strongholds encircling Wales built by King Edward I.
Among the most picturesque of the world’s castles, Corfe Castle is the stunning ruin of a former royal residence, military stronghold and prison.
One of many castles around the world with a rich history, Craigmillar Castle once played host to Mary Queen of Scots.
Just a ruin today, Denbigh Castle is one of the ring of castles which was built by King Edward I in order to establish his dominance over Wales.
One of the oldest castles in the world, Devin Castle overlooks the Danube and the border between Slovakia and Austria and its site has a history stretching back to Roman times.
Dirleton Castle was an imposing medieval fortress and noble residence, which is now a picturesque ruin not far from Edinburgh.
Ranking high on any list of castles of the world, the medieval Dover Castle is one of Britain’s most significant fortresses and has a fascinating history.
Among the most famous castles in the world, Dublin Castle has been everything from a fortification and royal home to a gunpowder storage facility and a prison.
Dudley Castle is a ruined Norman motte and bailey castle which is now open to visitors and also hosts the popular Dudley Zoo within its grounds.
Dumbarton Castle served as a wartime prison, a royal shelter and a defence against both foreign and local threats.
Dunstaffnage Castle is a medieval stronghold once captured by Robert the Bruce.
Dunstanburgh Castle was a 14th century fortress, the striking ruins of which can be found on Northumberland’s coast.
Formerly the home of the Bishops of Durham, Durham Castle dates back to the eleventh century.
Near the top of any world castles list, Edinburgh Castle is a medieval fortress and royal castle turned national monument and World Heritage site.
Fagaras Fortress is an imposing 14th century stronghold in Transylvania.
Fil’akovo Castle is a medieval site on the current Slovak-Hungarian border and the former frontier of the Ottoman Empire.
One of many castles around the world with a rich history, Fortheringhay Castle was the birthplace of Richard III and site of execution of Mary Queen of Scots.
Framlingham Castle is an impressive twelth century fortified castle in Suffolk, UK.
Frederiksborg Slot is a restored 16th century royal palace in Denmark and the site of the National History Museum.
Gediminas Tower is an iconic fortified tower and the sole remaining part of the Upper Castle of Vilnius.
A magnificent castle in Glamis, Scotland, the French chateau styling and the historic setting provides an excellent day out.
Godolphin House is a Cornish stately home built in the castle style by the Godolphin family, who were prominent in the reign of Queen Anne.
Goodrich Castle is a picturesque Norman ruin in Herefordshire, UK, that was the site of a bitter siege during the English Civil War.
Ranking among the most famous castles in the world, the Grandmasters Palace of Rhodes was the base of the Knights Hospitaller of St John.
The Grandmasters Palace in Valletta has been the seat of power in Malta since the 16th century.
Gruyeres Castle is a picturesque medieval castle which was the seat of nobility for centuries.
Hailes Castle was a medieval stronghold, the pretty ruins of which date back mostly to the 14th century.
Hame Castle is a medieval site which has served as everything from a royal residence to a prison and evena granary.
Among the larger castles of the world, Hammershus Castle was a medieval fortress, the vast ruins of which lie on the island of Bornholm.
One of many castles of the world that is now a popular tourist attraction, Harlech Castle is a dramatic medieval stronghold and one the castles built by Edward I in his conquest of Wales.
One of the oldest castles in the world, Hastings Castle was one of the first Norman castles to be built in England.
Helmsley Castle was a twelth century castle in York and the site of a dramatic siege during the English Civil War.
One of the biggest castles in the world, Hohensalzburg Fortress is a vast 11th century citadel in Salzburg, Austria.
Hohenzollern Castle is a truly impressive 19th century German castle and popular tourist destination located 40 miles south of Stuttgart.
Holstentor is a picturesque medieval gate which houses the city museum of Lubeck. UNESCO listed.
Hunedoara Castle in Romania was a medieval fortress turned royal palace.
Hylton Castle was the private home of a wealthy family in Medieval England.
Kalmar Castle is a fortified castle in Sweden which dates back to the 12th century.
Kastelholm Castle is a medieval castle located on the Åland Islands and once home to King Gustav I, often thought of as the founder of modern Sweden.
An interesting entry on any list of world castles, Kenilworth Castle is a former medieval stronghold and royal palace, most famed as the home of Elizabeth’s beloved Robert Dudley.
An impressive 12th century Crusader castle in Jordan, the remains of the fortification of Kerak are an awesome and slightly forbidding sight even today.
Kidwelly Castle is a Norman masterpiece which still stands majestically in the calm Welsh countryside as a reminder of the tumultuous Anglo-Welsh past.
Kolossi Castle was a fortification of the Knights Hospitallers built in the 13th century and rebuilt in the 15th century.
Konigstein Fortress in Dresden has been everything from a stronghold to a World War II prisoner of war camp.
Ranking among the most famous castles in the world, Kronborg Slot is a 15th century UNESCO-list castle in Denmark and the setting for Shakespeare’s 'Hamlet’.
Linlithgow Palace was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and host to most of the Stuart kings.
Lochleven Castle was a medieval stronghold most renowned for being the prison of Mary Queen of Scots.
Ludgershall Castle was a medieval royal castle and hunting lodge, of which only ruins and earthworks remain.
Ludlow Castle, the finest of medieval ruined castles, set in glorious Shropshire countryside, at the heart of this superb, bustling black
One of the oldest castle sites in the world, Maiden Castle is vast, well preserved Iron Age hill fort in Dorchester.
One of the largest castles in the world, Malbork Castle in northern Poland was the medieval fortified castle of the Teutonic Knights.
Described as the most pleasant spot in Wales, Manorbier is a well preserved medieval castle located on the Welsh coast in Pembrokeshire.
The Marbella Castle Walls were once part of an impressive Moorish citadel built in the 10th century.
An important English castle, Middleham Castle was the childhood home of King Richard III.
Among the lesser-known castles of the world, and somewhat unconventional for the category, Montezuma Castle is a 12th century cliff dwelling in Arizona.
Mystras is an archaeological site in Greece housing the remains of a city built around a 13th century castle.
Nea Pafos is an archaeological site near Paphos which contains the Castle of Forty Columns, a Byzantine fortification constructed in the seventh century AD.
A fairy-tale castle built for an introverted and reclusive king, Neuschwanstein Castle’s idyllic mountainous setting attracts millions of tourists.
Ranking among the most famous castles in the world, Nuremberg Castle is a medieval castle where Holy Roman Emperors would reside.
Okehampton Castle was once Devon’s largest castle and was listed in the Doomsday Book.
Near the top of any list of world castles, Orava Castle is one of Slovakia’s most famous castles and was featured in the 1922 film "Nosferatu".
Orford Castle was a twelth century fortified castle built during the reign of King Henry II.
Paderne Castle was a Moorish stronghold later taken by the forces of King Afonso III.
One of many castles of the world that is now popular with tourists, Paphos Castle is a medieval fortification in Paphos Harbour.
Peles Castle was the summer home of Romania’s first king, Carol I.
An interesting entry on any list of world castles, Pevensey Castle is a picturesque ruin of a medieval castle built where William the Conqueror landed in 1066.
Originally a Norman structure, Pontefract castle played an increasingly important role in English Royal history for over 500 years. Today it lies in ruins but has much for visitors to enjoy, including its underground dungeons.
Powis Castle was built by Welsh princes in the early 13th century and has maintained much of its exterior grandeur.
Prague Castle dates back to the 9th century and is reportedly the largest castle in the world and a focal point of Czech history .
One of the oldest castles in the world, Qasr Amra is a UNESCO-listed 8th century desert castle in Jordan.
Certainly ranking high among any list of the most picturesque castles of the world, Raglan Castle is the dramatic ruin of a 15th century castle destroyed in the English Civil War.
Ragnhildsholmen is an early medieval castle ruin, representing all that remains of a 13th century border fortress.
Raseborg Castle is a ruined medieval castle in southern Finland first mentioned in writing in 1378.
An interesting entry on any list of world castles, Restormel Castle was a 13th century castle in Cornwall, the pretty ruins of which are well preserved.
Rhuddlan Castle was one of the iron ring of strongholds built by Edward I in his conquest of Wales.
Richborough Roman Fort in Kent marks the site where the Romans successfully invaded Britain in 43 AD.
Ranking high on any list of castles of the world, Rosenborg Slot is a 17th century royal palace in Copenhagen in Denmark.
Rothesay Castle is a distinctive medieval ruin with strong links to the royal Stewart dynasty.
Sagunto Castle was a large Moorish citadel, the impressive remains of which overlook the modern town.
Salses Fortress is an impressive medieval fortress in Plateau de Rousillon in France.
One of many castles around the world with a rich history, Sandal Castle was the site of an important battle in the Wars of the Roses.
Shirvanshahs’ Palace is a 15th century castle complex in Baku in Azerbaijan.
Sigiriya is a vast rock used over time as a Buddhist monastery and as a 5th century royal fortress.
An interesting entry on any world castles list, Silves Castle is an imposing Moorish stronghold.
One of the biggest castles in the world, Spis Castle is Slovakia’s most famous castle ruin.
St Fagans National History Museum is a unique open-air museum of the history of Wales.
St George’s Castle in Lisbon is a medieval castle which once served as a royal palace.
Ranking among the best castles in the world, Stirling Castle is an iconic royal palace, a medieval stronghold and a focal point for many of the most important events in Scotland’s history.
Ranking among the most famous castles in the world, Suomenlinna Fortress is an impressive, UNESCO-listed 18th century maritime fortification.
The Syracuse Archaeological Site contains the impressive remains of an ancient city including a fort known as the Castle of Euryalus.
Tantallon Castle was the imposing medieval stronghold of an influential Scottish family.
Tematin Castle is a picturesque ruined medieval fortress near the modern towns of Hrádok and Lúka in Slovakia.
Though not seen as standard for a traditional world castles list, Teotihuacan contains a number of castle fortresses.
Thornbury Castle is an original Tudor manor house which once played host to King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.
Toompea Castle in Tallinn has been a military and administrative stronghold for hundreds of years and now contains the Estonian Parliament - an interesting entry on any list of world castles.
Among the more striking of the world’s castles, Trencin Castle was the main seat of aristocrat Matus Cak, Lord of the Vah and the Tatras.
Tsarevets Castle in Veliko Tarnovo is a medieval fortress and was the centre of the Second Bulgarian Empire. Today it is open to visitors and also hosts sound and light shows.
Tulum is a cliff-top Maya castle in Mexico’s Quintana Roo region with some interesting and quite well preserved ruins.
Turku Castle is a large medieval castle in Finland which is said to be Finland’s largest intact medieval building.
Tutbury Castle is an imposing medieval site in Staffordshire which had one very famous prisoner, Mary Queen of Scots.
Van Castle was built in the Iron Age as part of the Urartu Kingdom and now stands as a stunning ruin in modern Turkey. Certainly ranks high among any list of picturesque castles of the world.
The Velia Archaeological Site contains an eleventh/twelfth century medieval castle, which is recognisable by its rounded towers and turrets.
Vianden Castle in Luxembourg is a picturesque medieval castle which served as the home of the local counts.
Vranduk is best known for its medieval castle which once served as the residence fot the fifteenth century Bosnian King Stjepan Tomas.
Built by a king, the seat of a kingmaker and vital stronghold in the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War, Warwick Castle has played an important role in British history. One of many castles of the world that is now popular with tourists.
Wawel Castle is an iconic fortified castle complex in Krakow and the former seat of the Polish monarchy.
Windsor Castle is the oldest occupied castle in the world as well as being one of the biggest castles in the world. It is the official home of the British monarchy.