Castles were a very popular form of architecture in the medieval ages. They primarily served as an effective form of defense against an outside army’s attack. For this reason, castles were normally built by every major lord and noble during the medieval times, in order to guard his territory against foreign attacks and as a base to expand his empire.
In time, castles came to serve the purpose of both a military fortification and the lord’s residence. The importance of castles diminished sharply with the invention of gunpowder.
The use of gunpowder weapons rendered ineffective even the best of the castle fortifications, leaving the castles increasingly unimportant and making warfare mostly an affair on the open battlefield.
Windsor Castle is one of the oldest castles in the UK and is one of the very few castles which have been in continuous use since their construction. The castle was originally constructed during William the Conqueror’s reign in the 11th century.
It was used as the royal residence by the subsequent English monarch, all the way until the present day. Many new structures were added to the castle in the later medieval period so that it sprawls over a massive area today and has many wings. One of the residential wings is still used by the English monarch and the castle is occupied by a massive staff, being home to many royal and governmental offices.
Alcazar castle is one of the best castles in Spain. The castle was the site of a Roman fortification and after the Moorish invasion of Spain, the modern-day structure of the castle was built. According to estimates based on extant historical sources, the castle dates back to the 12th century.
The overall shape of the castle is like that of a bow and the unique shape of the castle’s towers is said to be the inspiration of the Cinderella Castle.
After the end of the Moorish rule in Spain, the castle came into the ownership of Spanish queen, Isabella I. The castle later served as a prison for some time. Nearly the entire architecture of the castle is well-preserved to this day.
Neuschwanstein castle is one of the rather recent German castles which is also one of the most recognizable pieces of architecture in Germany. The castle was built in the 19th century in Bavaria, Germany. Located on top of hill, the castle was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria.
The castle was constructed as a tribute to medieval German knightly culture and Ludwig II had numerous embellishing features such as vast halls and theaters added to it.
Apart from the public quarters, the private quarters of this huge castle include only the rooms of the king and the servants.
The Tower of London is considered one of the most important castles which have survived through the medieval ages. This is primarily for the fact that the castle has remained in the ownership of English monarchs since the time of William the Conqueror in the 11th century.
It has also served as a prison for many high-profile members of the English nobility and royalty during the medieval era. Originally comprising of a solitary tower, the castle was significantly expanded from 12th to 14th centuries to include many other structures.
It was famously the prison of Henry VII’s wife Anne Boleyn following the rift between the two.
The primary purpose of the castle was to serve as a major Norman fortification and to cement Norman rule in Wales. For this reason, the most prominent architectural feature of this castle is its extraordinary defensive features, comprising eight towers, multiple walls, and two heavily fortified gates.
Most of the original structure of the castle remains erect today thanks to its exceptionally durable construction.
Hohensalzburg castle was originally the site of a fortress built in the 11th century. Later, the fortress was replaced with a sprawling castle in the 14th century. Built on top of a mountain, the castle is located in Austria and commands a stunning view of the surrounding landscape.
The most notable feature of this castle is that it is massive by medieval standards, running the length of 820 feet and being 490 feet wide. Its sheer size makes it one of the largest castles in Europe.
Most of the original structure of the castle is well-preserved and extant today.
The Alhambra of Granada is the most iconic castle that has survived in Spain since the days of Moorish rule. The castle was built during the reign of the Moorish Emirate of Granada in the 13th century. Following its construction, it became the seat of the Grenadian rulers.
The structure of the castle combines a formidable fortification and exterior defenses with a beautiful interior. The exterior included thirteen towers lining a boundary wall. The interior includes an oval courtyard, honeycomb vaults, and arched constructions.
The castle remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in Andalusia, Spain. It has been included in the list of UNESCO heritage sites.
Hohenzollern castle is among the most scenic castles in Germany. The castle was originally the site of a fortress which was built on top of a hill in the 11th century. The fortress was destroyed in the 15th century and a second construction commenced.
Located at a height of 700 feet, this second construction also underwent destruction. It was on the ruins of this second fortress that Crown Prince Frederick William IV of Prussia had the Hohenzollern castle constructed in the 19th century.
The castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Germany today and is considered among the most beautiful castles all over the world. Although open to tourists and visitors, the castle is privately owned to this day.
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