Ever in love with stories about kings, queens, kingdoms, wars, revolts, revolutions and want to experience the magic, intrigue, mystery of the places where history happened? Then Europe is the right and best place to visit. There are so many castles in almost every country of the old continent that you need a lifetime to tour them all. Here is a list with the most intriguing European destination for history lovers:
Bran Castle in Brasov, Romania or Dracula’s Castle
No need to tell Dracula’s story I guess. Everybody and his mother heard about this blood thirsty count who captured the imagination of so many over the last century after Bram Stoker made it known to the world as the most dangerous vampire in the history. But few know that the real Dracula’s name was Vlad the Impaler and although there is no proof that he did turn into a vampire after his death, he really was kind of blood thirsty while alive. He fought the Turkey army many times to defend his people and he used to impale his enemies on the top of a spike and leave them to die slowly, an horrific death indeed. However, in that Medieval time cruelty was something quite normal among kings and princes, I guess.
The construction of Bran Castle started on November, 1377 in Transylvania region and was finished in 1388, 40 years before Vlad Dracula was born, so chances are that he really lived or at least spend some nights in this castle. However, Sighisoara is the town where Vlad Dracula was born and you can actually visit his very own first home for the first 5 years for as little as 1£. I’ve been there and quite scary. “Dracula” was laying down in an open coffin and when I entered the room he suddenly woke up and gave me one of his worst grimace.
Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria
Sometimes called the Austrian Palace of Versailles, Schonbrunn Palace was home for the famous Emperor Sisi, the Austrian version of Lady Diana. Well, not a very lovely home, since she was not really happy here, truly I can’t understand why. Some historians say she was upset that her mother-in-law and her aunt at the same time, did not let her have a word in running the Palace. Wow, but that would have been a huge responsibility for a 16 years old country girl. The Palace is magnificent, you can only dream how it is to live in a place like that while traversing each room. The very definition of a luxury life.
Louvre Museum and Palace of Versailles
If you decide to head to Paris, these two icons are not to be missed. Certainly the most visited art museum, Louvre Museum is hosted in Louvre Palace right in the heart of Paris, on the right side of Seine. Initially build in the 12 century to protect French citizens from the British soldiers which moved to Normandie, perhaps running away from the annoying and never ending British rain, few hundred years later in 1750, Louis XV agreed to show off some of the royal art collection. It was later, during the French Revolution, that the Louvre Palace became the Louvre Museum. The grand opening happened on 10 August 1793 when for the first time the public was granted full access. The rest is history as they say.
Now to visit his huge Museum you need a whole year, and I’m not exaggerating. So if you’re not moving to Paris for the next year, you must choose carefully what you want to see. Monalisa is overrated actually and is very crowded there anyway, just so to let you know.
Edinburgh Castle, the black pearl of Scotland
Scene of notorious royal births, legendary betrayals and some gruesome murders, Edinburgh castle is one of the most impressive castle in Scotland and not only. A real iconic British landmark, Edinburgh Castle was built on top of the volcanic Castle Rock, overviewing the surroundings. Known as the most fought-over in United Kingdom, the castle still has a working military garrison today. The proof for that is the one o’clock gun that helps ships keeping track of the time. Also, Edinburgh Castle hosts the Margaret Chapel, put up in 1130 by King David I of Scotland, to honor the memory of his mother, Queen Margaret, and The Great Hall of King James IV.
Cardiff Castle. South Wales
With a tumultuous history, this Victorian Gothic medieval Castle, once a Roman fort, should be on every history lover traveler. It is said that was commissioned by the very William the Conqueror to show off his power in South Wales. During its long history, the castle was home for many notorious personalities, including the infamous Hugh le Despenser the Younger rose.