Rick Steves’ Europe: Medieval Castles

Ancient fortresses offer glimpses of medieval brutality and 19th-century Romanticism

castle-steves.jpg
Vario Images GmbH & Co.KG / Alamy

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle Germany
(Karl-Josef Hildenbrand / dpa / Corbis)

Germany's Neushwanstein is a textbook-like example of 19th-century Romanticism. In 1869, King Ludwig began building his medieval fantasy on the hilltop not for defensive reasons, but because he liked the view.

The Medieval City of Carcassonne

Medieval city of Carcassonne
(Photolibrary)

The battlements of Carcassonne rise over an intact medieval town in France. The American travel writer Richard Halliburton described the night he arrived here in 1921. It was, he wrote, "a magical moonlit city of walls and towers.. defiant and impregnable."

Warwick Castle, England

Warwick Castle England
(David Martyn Hughes / Alamy)

England's Warwick Castle entertains young and old with everything from armor to old masters. Its gardens were laid out in the 1700s by the renowned designer Capability Brown.

Burg Eltz, Germany

Burg Eltz castle
(Vario Images GmbH & Co.KG / Alamy)

Germany's Burg Eltz is remarkably well-preserved, and for 850 years has remained in the hands of one aristocratic family.

Medieval Castles of Europe

Medieval Castles map
(Guilbert Gates)

Visiting these historic castles today, travelers see a muddle of Middle Ages bunker mentality and 150-year-old Romantic renovation. While confusing, this weird mix makes for great sightseeing.