Europe is a continent with a lot of history and so much of it can still be seen in its beautiful castles, some of which have inspired Disney movies, but not all of them have quite survived the centuries intact. Sometimes this can be because of their original purpose as scenes of battles and sieges, other because of weather and geographic conditions that have brought them down, but it can still be a magical experience visiting their ruins and imagining what you could have seen there once.
Fortunately, the wonders of modern technology make it possible to visualize that even more clearly, recreating the wonders of ancient technology. As you can see from these before and after images, these ruins once looked incredible.
Samobor Castle, Samobor, Croatia
Once belonging to Bohemian ruler Ottokar and dating back to the 13th Century, this Croatian castle may lie in ruins now, but as you can see, it once wouldn’t have looked out of place in Game of Thrones. Most of what remains there today dates back to modifications made in the 16th Century, but it is still worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Château Gaillard, Les Andelys, France
If you’re a bit of a castle geek, you’ll be interested to know that this Chateau is an early example of both concentric fortification and machicolation. If you have no idea what either of those terms mean, you’ll be interested to know that it was built by Richard The Lionheart during a war with Philip II of France in the 12th Century and lasted until it was torn down in the 16th Century.
Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland
Fans of Braveheart have been flocking to this promontory fort since it featured in the Mel Gibson movie, as it’s where William Wallace besieged the English in 1297. Oliver Cromwell took it back later on, so it clearly saw a lot of action and its remains are still impressive.
Menlo Castle, Galway City, Ireland
All of these castles have their stories to tell, and Menlo Castle’s is of its destruction by fire in 1910 when coachman James Kirwan only managed to escape by climbing down the ivy that ran up the side of the castle. As you can see, that ivy is still very much there.
Olsztyn Castle, Olsztyn, Poland
Olsztyn Castle was built by Casimir The Great in the 12th Century and its imposing tower has stood the test of time even if much of what surrounded it has gone after being attacked by the Hapsburgs and then the Swedes over the centuries. You can still visit and see the clever way it was built into the limestone rocks.
Spiš Castle, Spišské Podhradie, Slovakia
Spiš Castle is one of the world’s largest castle complexes, covering over four hectares and was built as a border fortress and then used as a mansion for the aristocracy until it was destroyed in the 18th Century, possibly by a fire caused by a lightning strike. While its grandeur may have faded, it’s still an impressive structure.
Poenari Castle (Poenari Fortress), Valachia, Romania
You couldn’t necessarily call Poenari Castle ‘Dracula’s Castle’, though it did once belong to Vlad The Impaler, who inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula. It certainly wouldn’t have been a nice place to visit in those days, not least because of its imposing location up in the mountains, never mind what might have happened to you when you got there. Today, it’s not much more safe, as it’s been overrun by bears.
Now that you’ve seen these castles brought back to their former glory, which one do you think was the most impressive? Which would you have liked to visit in its heyday?