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The 30 Most Gorgeous Medieval Castles in the World

Reader's Digest Logo By Tina Donvito of Reader's Digest | Slide 1 of 31: Castles conjure up images of a romantic medieval past, the stuff of legends and fairy tales. But what exactly makes a castle, well, a castle? Usually built for royalty or nobility, castles are magnificent residences that are fortified, so they can be defended if attacked. Tall towers allow for lookouts, moats and drawbridges make it hard to get in, and battlements have gaps for shooting through. When we think of medieval castles, we're thinking of ones built during the Middles Ages, which lasted roughly 1,000 years from 500 to 1500 AD. Although that period usually refers to Europe, there are a surprising number of medieval castles in Africa and Asia, as well. Castles in the Americas, though, usually date from after the age of European exploration, which came later. In addition, some of the most famous castles in Europe, such as Neuschwenstein, were actually built much later in a revival style to look like the castles of yore. Dotting the countryside, true medieval fortifications like the ones on this list are often imposing yet have an awe-inspiring beauty we still admire a millennium later. For more gorgeous spots around the world, check out these other enchanting places that look straight out of a fairy tale.

Castles in the sky

Castles conjure up images of a romantic medieval past, the stuff of legends and fairy tales. But what exactly makes a castle, well, a castle? Usually built for royalty or nobility, castles are magnificent residences that are fortified, so they can be defended if attacked. Tall towers allow for lookouts, moats and drawbridges make it hard to get in, and battlements have gaps for shooting through.

When we think of medieval castles, we're thinking of ones built during the Middles Ages, which lasted roughly 1,000 years from 500 to 1500 AD. Although that period usually refers to Europe, there are a surprising number of medieval castles in Africa and Asia, as well. Castles in the Americas, though, usually date from after the age of European exploration, which came later. In addition, some of the most famous castles in Europe, such as Neuschwenstein, were actually built much later in a revival style to look like the castles of yore. Dotting the countryside, true medieval fortifications like the ones on this list are often imposing yet have an awe-inspiring beauty we still admire a millennium later. For more gorgeous spots around the world, check out these other enchanting places that look straight out of a fairy tale.

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