Castles are some of the most impressive and beautiful structures in the world. They have been around for centuries, and continue to be popular tourist destinations today. In this article, we will take a look at the largest castles in the world. These strongholds are sure to amaze you!
Introduction: The Largest Castles Worldwide
Castles have fascinated people for centuries. These imposing buildings were once the homes of kings and queens, and their size and grandeur reflected the power and wealth of their owners.
Today, castles can be found in many different parts of the world. Some, like Windsor Castle in England, are still used as royal residences. Others, such as Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, have been turned into museums.
However, all castles share a common history, and each one has its own unique story to tell. From the largest castle in the world to the longest, these fascinating structures continue to capture the imaginations of people all over the globe.
The History and Origins of Castles
A castle is a large fortified building or group of buildings. Castles have been a part of human history for millennia, with some of the largest and most well-known castles built in medieval Europe.
However, the origins of castles can be traced back even further, to the ancient fortresses of the Middle East. These early castles were often built on high ground to give their occupants a clear view of the surrounding area, and they frequently featured thick walls and multiple towers.
In Europe, the first castles appeared during the 9th century, when Norman invaders began constructing fortifications to protect against invasions. In addition to being used as military fortifications, they often housed large numbers of people, including soldiers, nobility, and servants.
Over time, these simple Norman castles evolved into the massive stone fortresses with turrets, moats and drawbridges that we typically think of when we imagine a castle.
Thanks to their size and impregnability, castles became an essential part of medieval warfare, and they played a significant role in shaping the history of Europe. The largest castles could take years to build, and required the labor of thousands of workers.
Today, many of these large castles are popular tourist destinations, and they offer a fascinating glimpse into the past. Whether you’re interested in history or just looking for a unique vacation destination, be sure to add a castle to your travel bucket list.
19. Chambord Castle, France
The largest castle in the Loire Valley, the Château de Chambord was originally a hunting lodge for King Francis 1. Built between 1519 to 1547, this beautiful French castle has a distinctive Renaissance style.
One of the most iconic features of Chambord Castle is its double helix staircase. Thought to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci, the two spirals intertwine but never meet.
There are 440 rooms in the Château de Chambord, with 282 fireplaces and 84 staircases. The Château de Chambord castle grounds are as large as inner Paris. Spread over 5,440 hectares (13,400 acres), Chambord park has a 19 mile long perimeter wall.
The castle itself is 156 meters long and up to 56 meters in height. Inside the Château de Chambord, there are 440 rooms, 282 fireplaces, and 77 staircases. Today, the castle is open to the public and houses a museum that tells the story of its fascinating history.
18. Hohenzollern Castle, Germany
Another enormous castle is Burg Hohenzollern in Germany, which was originally built as a fortress for King Frederick William IV of Prussia and the Hohenzollern dynasty. It has since been repurposed as a museum and tourist attraction. Located around 53 kilometers from Stuttgart, Hohenzollern is visited by around 300,000 people each year.
With 140 rooms, this majestic castle offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside from its hilltop perch at 855 meters high.
Hohenzollern Castle is privately owned by the House of Hohenzollern. When the family are in residence, their flag flies on the building.
17. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
There are many impressive castles around the world, but some of the largest and most majestic can be found in Europe. Perhaps the largest and most famous of these is Castle Neuschwanstein, located in southern Germany.
With its soaring towers and imposing grey exterior, this castle really captures the imagination. It is also quite large, covering around 65,000 square feet.
In addition to being one of the largest castles in the world, Neuschwanstein is also known for its stunning architecture, with elements borrowed from both medieval and modern styles. This fairytale castle was the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland.
Neuschwanstein Castle is visited by around 1.5 million people each year. It’s important to buy your ticket in advance, otherwise you may have to queue for several hours!
16. Sforzesco Castle, Italy
One of the largest castles in Italy, Castello Sforzesco is located in the heart of Milan, Italy. The castle’s fortifications sit on 25.9 hectares of land.
The construction of this castle began in 1360. Completed in 1499, Castello Sforzesco was home to several noble families over the years. These days it houses several museums including the Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco.
When Ludovico Sforza became Lord of Milan in 1494, he asked several famous Renaissance artists to decorate the castle. For example, Leonardo da Vinci painted the ceiling of the Sala delle Asse.
15. Balmoral Castle, Scotland
Owned by the Royal Family and the Summer residence of The Queen, Balmoral is one of the largest castles in Europe if you take the size of the grounds into account. The Balmoral Estate extends to over 50,000 acres (20,000 hectares).
Located in the Scottish Highlands near the village of Crathie, Balmoral Castle was completed in 1856. A fine example of Scottish Baronial style, the castle has 775 rooms in all.
There are 52 Royal and guest bedrooms as well as 188 staff bedrooms and 78 bathrooms. The largest room is the Ballroom, which can be visited along with the castle grounds and gardens from April to the beginning of August.
14. Osaka Castle, Japan
Situated in central Japan, Osaka Castle was built in 1583 on the site of the former Ishiyama Hongan-ji temple. This imposing castle is five stories high on the outside and eight stories high on the inside.
Osaka Castle grounds are spread over 61,000 square meter (15 acres). They include wide moats and high stone walls, as well as a beautiful park that is popular with locals and tourists alike.
Springtime in Tokyo is a popular time to visit, when the plum and cherry trees are blossoming.
13. Burghausen Castle, Germany
Burghausen is the longest castle in the world, as confirmed by the Guinness World Record company. Measuring 1051 meters in length, Burghausen Castle is a fine example of medieval fortifications.
Since prehistoric times, there were settlers on the ridge above Burghausen town. The castle itself was founded before 1025.
Most of Burg Burghausen’s ring walls are still intact, and it’s well worth a visit. You can see the State Castle Museum (or Palas), the Ducal apartment, the Knights’ Hall, the Bower (or women’s apartments),The State Gallery of Burghausen and five castle courtyards. Climb up 62 steps to enjoy the panoramic views from the Palas viewing platform.
12. Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Edinburgh Castle is one of the largest and most iconic castles in the world. Located on a rocky outcrop overlooking the city of Edinburgh, this imposing structure has stood guard over Scotland for centuries.
The origins of the castle date back to at least the 12th century, but over time it has gone through numerous renovations and additions. Today, Edinburgh Castle is renowned for its rich history and stunning architecture, drawing visitors from all around the globe.
Whether exploring its dungeons or marveling at its magnificent towers, anyone who visits this iconic landmark will undoubtedly be impressed by its grandeur and timeless beauty. So if you find yourself in the Scottish capital, be sure to pay a visit to Edinburgh Castle – you won’t regret it!
Size: 35,737 square meters
11. Alcázar of Segovia, Spain
Dating from the 11th or 12th century, this former fortress has a prime location in the city of Segovia, Spain. Famous for its resemblance to the bow of a ship, the Alcázar of Segovia was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
Today, the site is a museum and houses the General Military Archive of Segovia. A popular royal residence for many years, the Castle of Segovia still has an impressive throne room lined with royal portraits.
The Alcazar gardens and many of the castle windows have a clear Moorish influence. Climb 156 steps up Juan II tower and you’ll be rewarded with fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.
Size: 39,000 square meters
10. Citadel of Aleppo, Syria
The Citadel of Aleppo is considered to be one of the most impressive castles in the world. Located in northern Syria, this medieval fortress has played a central role in the history of both the region and its people.
From its earliest days as a strategic military stronghold to its recent devastation at the hands of civil war, the Citadel of Aleppo has stood as a symbol of strength, resilience, and unity. Today, this incredible castle remains an enduring testament to the endurance of human spirit.
With its majestic turrets and invincible stone walls, this mighty medieval structure will continue to stand firm even against the greatest threats. It reopened to the public in 2017 after repairs were undertaken on the structure.
Size: 39,804 square meters
9. Spiš Castle, Slovakia
Spiš Castle is the largest castle in Slovakia and one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. It covers an area of more than 10 acres.
Situated on a hill 634 meters above the town of Spišské Podhradie, Spiš Castle was originally built in the 12th century. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in a fire in 1780.
Partially restored, the castle of Spiš is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a popular tourist destination and has also featured in movies such as Dragonheart and The Lion in Winter.
41,426 square meters
8. Himeji Castle, Japan
Himeji Castle is one of the largest and most famous castles in Japan. It is also known as the “White Heron Castle” or “White Egret Castle” because of its beautiful white outer walls.
The castle was built in 1333 by the Akamatsu family. It has undergone many repairs and renovations over the centuries, but it remains largely in its original state. The castle complex consists of 83 buildings, including the main keep, which is 152 feet high.
Himeji Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination. Every year, millions of people visit the castle to see its beautiful architecture and to learn about its history.
Size: 41,468 square meters
7. Buda Castle, Hungary
Buda Castle in Hungary is another large castle that was originally built in the 13th century. The castle was redesigned in Baroque style between 1749 and 1769.
Today, Buda Castle complex includes a number of impressive museums, such as the Hungarian National Gallery. The National Széchényi Library houses a collection of rare books, while The Budapest History Museum is spread over 4 floors.
This famous Hungarian landmark is a popular tourist destination and one of the most visited castles in Hungary. The castle terraces have recently been renovated and offer panoramic views of the Danube river below.
Size: 44,674 square meters
6. Hohensalzburg Castle, Austria
Standing tall on top of Festungsberg mountain, Hohensalzburg Castle dominates the skyline in Salzburg, Austria. At 250 meters long by 150 meters wide, this is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe.
Built in the 11th century, this well preserved fortress was originally built to defend the city. In fact, the citadel was never conquered.
Today, Fortress Hohensalzburg is extremely popular with visitors to Salzburg. A number of events such as advent markets take place in the castle courtyards.
54,523 square meters
5. Windsor Castle, U.K.
Windsor Castle in England is the largest inhabited castle in the world. Built in the 11th century, the castle has been home to British kings and queens for centuries.
It is currently the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II. Covering an area of more than 13 acres, the castle complex includes a number of buildings and gardens, as well as Windsor Park that is open to the public. The charming riverside town of Windsor makes a great day trip from London.
With 1000 rooms, this historic castle is not only massive in size but also offers impressive architectural details such as grand towers and beautiful stained glass windows. The State Apartments are the highlight of any visit and are still used by The Queen to host visits by heads of states.
54,835 square metres
4. Prague Castle, Czech Republic
Located in Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, this historic building is one of the largest ancient castles in the world. Prague Castle and grounds cover an area of around 110 acres (45 hectares). Prague Castle measures around 570 meters in length and averages around 130 meters wide.
Originally built in the 9th century, the building has been comprehensively remodelled and extended since. Today, Prague Castle is the official office of the President of the Czech Republic.
The castle complex includes a number of palaces, churches, and gardens, as well as the famous St. Vitus Cathedral. Prague Castle is a popular tourist destination and is one of the most visited castles in Europe with over 1.8 million visitors each year.
66,761 square meters
3. Mehrangarh Fort, India
Spread over 1200 acres (486 hectares), Mehrangarh Fort is one of the largest castles in India. It was built in the 15th century by Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur.
The royal fort is located on a 400 foot high hilltop and has sloping walls that are up to 36 meters high. Today, Mehrangarh Museum boasts several galleries housing a collection of paintings, weaponry, and turbans. Adjoining the fort, Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park was created in 2006 to restore the area’s natural ecology.
Mahrangarh Fort of Jodhpur has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in India. Several festivals take place here, including the Rajasthan International Folk Festival and the World Sacred Spirit Festival.
Size: 81,227 square meters
2. Cite de Carcassonne, France
One of the largest medieval castle complexes in Europe, the Cité de Carcassonne is an unmissable attraction in Languedoc-Roussillon. With an inner and outer city, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is spread over 27 acres (11 hectares).
Built in the 12th century, this walled city was originally home to around 4,000 people. It was restored in the 19th century by French architect Viollet-le-Duc.
The outer city walls are made from sandstone and are up to 12 meters high. There are many charming restaurants and souvenir shops within the old town of Carcassonne.
Size: 109,265 square meters
1. Malbork Castle, Poland
By land area, Malbork Castle in Poland is the largest castle in the world, with sprawling grounds and numerous structures to explore. Known as the “Gothic Jewel of the Teutonic Order”, this imposing fortress was originally built in the 13th century as a military stronghold to protect Poland from invaders.
Over the years, Malbork Castle underwent numerous renovations, but its core design has remained essentially unchanged. Today, visitors flock to this UNESCO World Heritage Site to marvel at its intricate architecture and rich history.
Whether you are an avid castle enthusiast or simply looking for a day trip destination, Malbork Castle is sure to delight and amaze. The largest fortified Gothic building in Europe, Malbork is easily reached from Gdansk or Warsaw.
Size: 143,591 square meters
In Conclusion: The Largest Castles in the World
These are just a few of the largest castles in the world. All these landmarks are remarkable feats of engineering and monumentally beautiful structures that attract visitors from around the globe.
Whether you’re interested in history or just looking for a unique vacation destination, the biggest castles are a fun addition to your travel bucket list.
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