The castle many Americans are most familiar with is the one that comes before every Disney film. Castles herald a fairy tale with a happy ending, an architectural translation of a generic fantasy that has been embedded into our psyche since we were children.
No wonder we’re so obsessed with them.
As we get older, the truly fascinating nature of these structures reveals itself: in centuries past, they’ve doubled as fortresses and military barracks. They’ve concealed the secrets of some of the most influential people in history. They were built as symbols of wealth and victory, though their histories are often dark and violent.
And, architecturally speaking, castles are incredibly varied. Spain’s Alcázar de Segovia was built for a Moorish king, and its interiors are loaded with traditionally Middle Eastern shapes and patterns. Portugal’s Palácio da Pena is romantic and flamboyant and in Denmark’s Funen Island, Egeskov Castle appears to rise out of the water.
And that’s just the beginning. Onward for the complete list.