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42 of the most beautiful castles in the world

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A European innovation, castles originated in the 9th and 10th centuries and were built by nobles to control the area immediately surrounding them. The structures were both offensive and defensive, and although their military origins are often emphasized in castle studies, the buildings also served as centers of administration and symbols of power. Urban castles were used to control the local populace and important travel routes, and rural castles were often situated near features that were integral to life in the community, such as mills and fertile land. Check out these gorgeous castles – both new and old.

© Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters; Felipe Caparrós Cruz/Getty Images; RudyBalasko/Getty Images
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