Long before it helped to inspire Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland, Neuschwanstein was a refuge for Germany’s King Ludwig II of Bavaria who spent much of his kingdom’s fortune building castles. Neuschwanstein is the most popular, welcoming more than 1 million visitors per year. Only 14 of the castle’s planned 200 rooms were finished, and they’re impressive with opulent gold leaf, ornate woodcarving, and vibrant murals that reveal a mad king’s obsession with the myths and legends of composer Richard Wagner's operas.
Long before it helped to inspire Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland, Neuschwanstein was a refuge for Germany’s King Ludwig II of Bavaria who spent much of his kingdom’s fortune building castles. Neuschwanstein is the most popular, welcoming more than 1 million visitors per year. Only 14 of the castle’s planned 200 rooms were finished, and they’re impressive with opulent gold leaf, ornate woodcarving, and vibrant murals that reveal a mad king’s obsession with the myths and legends of composer Richard Wagner's operas.
Photograph by Rudy Balasko, Getty Images

Top 10 Castles of Europe

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to live in a real-life fairytale? Ponder no more.

At least once in our lives we’ve twirled in a glittery dress and tiara, or tussled with fire-breathing dragons from a crenulated tower. Indoctrinated by bedtime stories of our youth, we’d close our eyes and wonder where those horse-drawn carriages went when they turned right at happily-ever-after. Now all grown up, we can still dream a little thanks to storybook abodes that really do exist, especially in Europe where hundreds of well-preserved castles dot enchanted landscapes. Here are ten that live up to our fairytale fantasies.


Kimberley Lovato is a freelance journalist and author based in San Francisco who spends most days planning trips to faraway lands and dreaming of happily ever after. Follow her @kimberleylovato and on her website.

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