Once upon a time, a reader stumbled upon beautiful pictures of faraway lands. There were ornate castles on hilltops with towers and spires that touched the sky. There were fortresses surrounded by moats and drawbridges to keep the residents safe. There was a castle built over a river and another perched like a bird, high above the sea. They saw a photograph of one of the seven wonders of the world and read how it was a romantic tribute to lost love. The reader longed to visit these magnificent sites, but for now, they would have to use their imagination to travel to these enticing destinations.
If you long to see magical castles that look like they were pulled from the pages of a fairy tale, we have hand-picked 15 for you. Because, once in awhile, in the middle of an ordinary day, fairy tales do come true. Happily ever after is out there — where will you find yours?
1. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most visited castles in Germany and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. It’s called the “Fairy Tale” castle because it is said to have inspired Walt Disney to create the Magic Kingdom.
2. Chateau de Chenonceau, France
Chenonceau boasts five arches spanning over the Cher river in France. Called the “Ladies Castle” because it was built and later improved upon by queens of France.
3. Paro Taktsang, Bhutan
One of thirteen small monasteries or “tiger’s lairs” where the Guru Rinpoche, also known as the “Second Buddha” of Bhutan, is said to have meditated.
4. Notre Dame Cathedral, France
The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is the setting for the story The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world.
5. Blarney Castle, Ireland
This historic castle is most famous for its stone, which has the traditional power of conferring eloquence on all who kiss it.
6. Chateau de Chambord, France
Chambord is the largest château in the Loire Valley and was never completed.
7. Dunrobin Castle, Scotland
The Castle of the Earldom of Sutherland — one of the seven ancient earldoms of Scotland.
8. The Swallow’s Nest Castle, Ukraine
The neo-Gothic Swallow’s Nest castle was built by a German noble in 1912 and perches 130 feet above the Black Sea near Yalta in southern Ukraine.
9. Bodiam Castle, England
Bodiam Castle was built from 1385 and is surrounded on all sides by a moat.
10. Eltz Castle, Germany
The Eltz Castle is surrounded on three sides by a river and is still owned by the same family that lived there in the 12th century, 33 generations ago.
11. Alcazar of Segovia, Spain
The Alcazar of Segovia is built upon a large rock promontory, which is shaped like the bow of a ship. This castle is also said to have inspired Disney’s Cinderella castle.
12. Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland
One of the most recognized castles in Scotland and most popular visitor attractions in the Highlands.
13. Corvin Castle, Romania
The castle has a well 30 meters deep. Legend says that the fountain was dug by 12 Turkish prisoners, promised liberty if they reached water. However, when they did just that 15 years later, their captors did not keep their promise.
14. Prague Castle, Czech Republic
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world.
15. Taj Mahal, India
One of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favorite wife of three, Mumtaz Mahal.
These are just a few of the fairytale destinations the world has to offer. If you could leave today, where would you go first?
Featured photo credit: Phil Dolby via flickr.com