Personal favorites: castle edition

Versailles. | Photo by Louis Paulin via Unsplash.
Versailles. | Photo by Louis Paulin via Unsplash.

Personal favorites: castle edition

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

There are just some places that stick out in your memory more than others. Though I’ve visited more castles than I can count, I certainly remember a select few that were above the rest. The excessive luxury, glitz and glamour of Europe’s most elaborate castles ranks pretty high on my list of fond memories from traveling. Though every castle I visited will hold a special place in my heart, these ones are my favorites. 


Herrenchiemsee New Palace. | Photo by Fritz Hiersche via 123RF. 

Herrenchiemsee New Palace, Germany

This palace is my absolute, all time favorite. It’s probably because you have to take a boat to get there, and it’s perched on an absolutely delightful island, with the Alps creating a magical backdrop just past the glittering water of Chiemsee Lake. This beautiful palace was built by King Ludwig II. It is known as the “Bavarian Versailles” and sits on the largest island in the lake, Herreninsel. Inside you’ll find large showrooms, the grand staircase, the parade bedroom and the large mirror gallery, amongst other elaborate rooms. You can also see the king’s apartment, an intimate room designed in French Rococo style. 


The opulent Mirror Hall in Versailles. | Photo by Ivan Soto via 123RF. 

Palace of Versailles, France

No list of amazing castles is complete without including the famed Palace of Versailles. What started out as a simple hunting lodge was turned into one of the most ornate examples of luxury you can visit in France. It served as the royal residence of France from 1682 under King Louis XIV until the start of the French Revolution in 1789, when King Louis XVI reigned. A tour at this particular palace is astounding. From the Hall of Mirrors to the vast gardens, it’s nothing short of amazing. And, of course, almost everything is gold! 


Ludwigsburg Palace

Ludwigsburg Residential Palace, Germany

Known as the site for the pumpkin festival, this palace is actually worth touring. Take a walk through the centuries, from Baroque to Rococo to Neoclassical in Europe’s largest Baroque building in its original condition. Inside does not disappoint. Here you’ll find a Ceramics Museum, a Fashion Museum showcasing clothing from the 18th to 20th centuries, as well as the private apartments of Duke Carl Eugen. Much of the furniture is original, as are the accessories on display. As if there isn’t already enough to love, you can also see one of Europe’s oldest palace theaters with original stage machinery here. 


Real Alcazar in Seville. | Photo by Massimo Santi via 123RF.

Real Alcázar, Spain

This incredible palace was built for Peter of Castile, a Christian king, over the former Muslim residential fortress. The palace features Mudéjar, Gothic, Renaissance and Romanesque design elements due to the various stages of construction. Here you’ll find lush gardens, beautiful water fountains, colorful tiles, intricate carvings and more arches than you could ever imagine. The palace became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and still houses the royal family. 

To say I’ve seen a castle or two is an understatement. After a while they all look the same; however, those four were really above and beyond. Whether it was the elaborate gardens, surrounding lakes, crazy gold decorations or just an overall feeling of elegance, I truly think those are some of the most spectacular royal sites in Europe. 

Per usual, due to the current pandemic, be sure to check if these locations are open to the public, or if it is safe to travel before you book a trip. 

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