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Visiting some of the world’s most majestic castles is something that ranks high on many travelers’ wish lists. Whether you had plans to explore a few and your trip fell through, or you’ve just been dreaming of putting that vacation together, the good news is that some of the best are offering virtual tours. These magnificent castles can now all be toured from the comfort of your couch until you can get there in person.
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Ashford Castle, Ireland
Built in 1228, this County Mayo castle was transformed into a luxury hotel in the 1930s. One of the most beautiful castles in Europe, Ashford has hosted a number of celebrity weddings and frequently draws the rich and famous. It’s also served as the setting for the classic film starring John Wayne, “The Quiet Man.” Guests today can enjoy living out their castle fantasies with a stay in one of the sumptuous rooms adorned with antique furnishings, some with open fireplaces, clawfoot tubs and four-poster beds. While it’s not possible at the moment, you can take a virtual tour and perhaps plan a dream trip in the future.
Palace of Versailles, France
One of the most popular attractions in France, Chateau de Versailles, or the Palace of Versailles is one of the most stunning examples of royal residences from the 17th and 18th-century in the world. Google Arts & Culture has created a famous collection from the famous home of King Louis XIV, the country’s king from May of 1643 until his death in 1715, that can be marveled at via an especially impressive virtual tour. In addition to exploring the palace, you can check out some of its best artifacts, take a virtual stroll through the gardens and head inside the famous Hall of Mirrors.
Windsor Castle, England
The 11th-century Windsor Castle is the longest-occupied palace in Europe, one of the most famous, and the world’s largest occupied castle. This is the official royal residence of the queen who undertakes formal duties here and the place she typically spends her weekends. Overlooking the River Thames across 13-acres of beautifully-manicured lawns and gardens, this top attraction near London is rivaled only by its lavish interior, you can get a sneak peek of the castle’s elegance through several virtual tours. Check out the traditional State Banquet in St. George’s Hall and then click on the images beneath to go to some of the other rooms like the Crimson Drawing Room.
Buckingham Palace, England
The Queen’s London residence, Buckingham Palace is a working palace, the centerpiece of Britain’s constitutional monarchy. It houses the offices of those who support the day-to-day activities and duties of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh and their immediate family. While only certain areas of it are accessible online, Google Arts & Culture offers a virtual tour of the State Rooms, including some spectacular gowns created by a renowned designer from the London Fashion Week in 2018.
Prague Castle, Czech Republic
The largest ancient castle on the planet, Prague Castle, the official residence of the President of the Czech Republic which dates all the way back to the 9th century, is currently closed to the public, but it is open for a virtual tour. There are multiple options for viewing, including the sightseeing terrace from the Southern Gardens that provides a breathtaking panoramic view of the city.
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Edinburgh Castle dates back to the 11th-century, witnessing everything from royal ceremonies, lavish feasts and the birth of a king to savage battles, ruthless politics and the deaths of queens. A world-renowned Scottish icon set atop an extinct volcano, some of the most popular attractions inside is the crown jewels and “Mons Meg,” a medieval siege gun. While you can plan a visit to see them in the future, for now, enjoy a walk through its magnificent grounds right from home.
Malahide Castle, Ireland
This beautifully restored castle that dates back to the 12th century is filled with period furnishings, set across 260-acres in the seaside village of Malahide. While it normally offers tours to the public on a daily basis, you can check out the interior from your couch with a virtual tour. It’s famously haunted by at least five ghosts, including Lady Maud Plunkett and a 16th-century caretaker named Puck, but, of course, we can’t guarantee you’ll see them.
Catherine Palace, Russia
One of the world’s most beautiful palaces, Catherine Palace was once the home of a famous Russian monarch, often associated with Catherine the Great, although she regarded it as “old fashioned.” Over 220 pounds of gold were used to gild the complex stucco façade and the many statues erected on the roof. The vast garden that surrounds it on all sides is particularly stunning, especially during spring and summer. Discover it on a virtual Google Arts & Culture Tour.
Bran Castle, Romania
Now you can visit what many feel is one of the world’s creepiest castles, the very castle that was said to have inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Romania’s most famous, it’s a major tourist attraction, national monument and landmark. Thanks to Google, you can explore nearly every inch of the rooms and hallways that would normally be open to guests who visit in person. The castle’s official site offers a video tour as well.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
A top castle in Germany, “Sleeping Beauty” Castle as Neuschwanstein is often called, is said to have been what inspired Walt Disney to create Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland. It sits atop a cliff in the Bavarian Alps of Germany as a real-life fantasyland. While there’s nothing like witnessing it in person, AirPano provides a virtual tour over the castle from multiple vantage points, providing at least a glimpse of what you can expect when visiting, someday.
Dunluce Castle, Northern Ireland
The ruins of Dunluce Castle, one of the filming sites in HBO’s hit “Game of Thrones,” is one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic historic monuments. It’s perched along the north Antrim coastline on a dramatic rocky promontory, a stunning sight that’s on the itinerary of many visitors to the area. This impressive virtual tour will make you feel as if you’re really stepping through the former home of the clans McQuillan and MacDonnell that dates back to the 13th century, a site of a number of historic battles.
Festung Hohensalzburg, Austria
Sitting atop a hill in Salzburg, Festung Hohensalzbur is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe, and one of the most well-preserved, originally built in the late 11th-century, expanded over the years by various residents. On a virtual tour you view can many of the rooms which are covered in a series of sunken panels adorned with gold buttons that represent the stars as well as the grounds with its pools and elaborate statues.
Blarney Castle, Ireland
While you definitely wouldn’t want to kiss the Blarney Stone now, you can get a good idea of what it might be like to climb the steep, winding stairs of the castle that was built over 600 years ago. The stone at the top, in which visitors must be dangled over to kiss, is only part of the experience. Inside there is a maze of underground passages and chambers, dating from different periods in its history, including a dungeon that once served as the castle’s prison. The grounds are spectacular and lush, home to places like Fern Garden.
Malbork Castle, Poland
The fortress of Malbork is considered one of the largest strongholds constructed out of red brick. in the world, once serving as the headquarters of the Grand Master of the order. The castle was built as the headquarters of the Grand Master, instilling fear among the locals. The High Castle is the core, constructed from 4.5 million bricks in the 13th century. There are moats, drawbridges, defensive walls, iron portcullises, artillery stands, stone-throwing machines and magazines. The virtual tour provides access to the Middle Castle courtyard, the Great Refectory, Summer Refectory of the Palace of Grand Masters, the Dry Moat, the Western Zwinger, the Grand Masters garden, and the Blessed Virgin Mary church.
Hedingham Castle, England
Hedingham Castle lies in Castle Hedingham village in Essex, standing on 160 acres of gorgeously landscaped gardens. Considered the most well-preserved Norman keep in all of England, its fortifications and outbuildings were constructed around 1100 AD, and the keep some four decades later. While that’s the only major medieval structure that has survived, it’s still an impressive sight, with its rooms filled with period furnishings that can be explored on this virtual tour.
Mont St Michel, France
One of the most iconic attractions in France, Mont St Michel sits atop a rocky tidal island, which is only an island when it’s high tide. The abbey was built by devoted monks in the early 8th century. It’s normally open to visitors, who can walk through the Boulevard Gate and then the fortified King’s Gate, where the Grand Rue, or main street, is lined with shops, museums and houses that date from the 15th and 16th centuries. While that’s not possible today, you can enjoy a breathtaking virtual tour.
Miramare Castle, Italy
Miramare Castle is a seaside castle that sits along the Gulf of Trieste on a rocky spur near Trieste in northeastern Italy, completed in 1860 for Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian and his wife, Charlotte. One of the top attractions in the region, it was strongly influenced by Romanticism and a fine example of a princely residence from the period, with over 20 lavish rooms and a large Italian- and English-style garden. The Maximilian’s Rooms, including the Throne Room and archduke’s bedroom designed and furnished like a ship’s cabin, are particularly impressive. Check it out here on HistoryView virtual tours.