Special Report

Europe’s Most Beautiful Castles

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Eilean Donan Castle
> Town or region: Eilean Donan, Scotland
> Century: 13th (rebuilt 20th)

Countless movies have been filmed at this romantic island castle in Scotland’s Highlands. The original structure was destroyed during the Jacobite Rebellion in the 18th century. The 20th-century reconstruction is considerably more ornate than the 13th-century version.

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Château de Bonaguil
> Town or region: Saint-Front-sur Lémance, France
> Century: 13th (rebuilt late 15th-early 16th)

A massive fortress on a rocky cliff in southwestern France, this edifice is considered a masterpiece of medieval military architecture.

Source: Jebulon / Wikimedia Commons

Alhambra
> Town or region: Granada, Spain
> Century: 13th-14th

One of the last Moorish castles built in Spain, the Alhambra — today a UNESCO World Heritage Site and major tourist attraction — was the site of the Spanish royal court in 1492, and it was here that Ferdinand and Isabella gave Christopher Columbus the charter for his first expedition.

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Oberhofen Castle
> Town or region: Oberhofen, Switzerland
> Century: 13th-14th

Like many such edifices, this castle on the banks of Lake Thun has seen frequent expansions over the years. Since 1952, it has been part of the Historical Museum of Bern.

Source: Rafa.rivero / Wikimedia Commons

De Haar Castle
> Town or region: Utrecht, The Netherlands
> Century: 14th (rebuilt late 19th-early 20th)

Partially destroyed and rebuilt on several occasions throughout its history, this castle was restored over a 20-year period, beginning in 1892. The restoration included such up-to-date touches as central heating, electric lights, and a kitchen with what were then considered modern appliances.