Special Report

Europe’s Most Beautiful Castles

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Caernarfon Castle
> Town or region: Caernarfon, Wales
> Century: 12th

This Edwardian-era castle and the adjacent town once served as the administrative capital of northern Wales.

Source: Marc Ryckaert (MJJR) / Wikimedia Commons

Gravensteen
> Town or region: Ghent, Belgium
> Century: 12th

This medieval stronghold’s name means “Castle of the Counts,” and it was the seat of the Counts of Flanders from its construction through 1353.

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Eltz Castle
> Town or region: Wierschem, Germany
> Century: 12th

Though it dates from the 1100s, this soaring structure began life as a mere manor house in the ninth century. A branch of the founding Eltz family still resides here.

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Leeds Castle
> Town or region: Maidstone (Kent), England
> Century: 12th

Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII, lived in this castle in the 16th century. While portions of the 12th-century original remain, most of the complex now dates only from the 1800s.

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Lismore Castle
> Town or region: Lismore, Ireland
> Century: 12th

Built in 1185 on the site of Lismore Abbey, this castle today is the Irish residence of England’s Duke of Devonshire. Much of it was rebuilt in the mid-19th century.