Vienna, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands are all European countries which boast some of the most prominent and striking castles and palaces in the world, and will continue to attract a great number of visitors to Europe for many years to come. As well as points of prodigious aesthetic beauty, these great works of architecture stand as historical landmarks in which visitors can learn the vast history of these different European countries, from their wars to their royalty.
Two of the world’s most beautiful and widely-visited palaces are in the Austrian capital of Vienna, with both admired for their political and aesthetic significance.
The Schönbrunn Palace is celebrated in equal parts for its gardens and the building itself. Both are open to the publicas an interactive attraction that encompasses the history of the Austrian royal family and the country.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996, the palace is a good option for those looking to enjoy a special tour on European river cruises in Vienna.
The palace was originally commissioned to be built by the 17th century Emperor Leopold I and famed Baroque architect Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. It was first intended to be the opulent hunting lodge of the heir, but since has become the centre of political encounter and remained a strong focus of history ever since.
The other prominent palace in Vienna is the Hofburg Palace. The residency of the Habsburg dynasty during the winter months, it complements the Schönbrunn, which was known as their summer residence. The Hofburg Palace is now the official residence of the President of Austria, having been the documented seat of government since as early as 1279 for a number of different empires and republics.
The palace has expanded in size considerably since its first construction and continues to be held up as a work of true wonder in Austria, accounting for its particular popularity with visitors to the country.
Prague Castle is one of the most celebrated castle estates in the whole of Europe, as well as being known as the largest ancient castle in the world. It is home to the Bohemian Crown Jewels, which includes the crown that was made for Charles IV’s coronation in 1347 - the fourth oldest crown in Europe.
As the most important structure in the Czech Republic, the castle is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where kings of Bohemia, Roman emperors and the country’s presidents have all resided and held office.
Sitting on the banks of the river Danube, the Buda Castle makes for an impressive welcome to those visiting cultural Budapest by water on cruises through the continent. Thought to have been built between the 14th and 20th century, the castle has housed many Hungarian kings within the city of Budapest.
The castle underwent a number of reconstructions and modifications since its damage in World War II and is today recognised as a great feat of architecture, faithfully based on its original design. Today it houses the Budapest History Museum, as well as a number of prominent works of art, making it a true representation of Budapest’s history.
One of the most popular castles across all European countries, the Neuschwanstein Castle, has been the focus of fairy tales and other great works of fiction for many years. First created as the private retreat of King Ludwig II, for which he designed the grand exterior and interior with the help of architect Edward Riedel and theatre designer Christian Jank, the castle now welcomes around 1.4 million visitors a year.
Its atmospheric setting on the top of a hill in Bavaria, Germany, has been the inspiration behind Disney and other fictional castles and structures.
The visionary King Ludwig only resided in his secluded castle for 172 days before his death, and it is now open to the public to enjoy its intricate design and dramatic beauty.
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