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List of "preserved" medieval castles

I'm trying to put together working a list of surviving intact European castles from the medieval and early modern periods. My criterion are admittedely somewhat arbitrary, but here's what I'm looking for if a castle is to make the list: -the castle's origin should not be from modern times (ie, Neuschwanstein is out) - some degree of renovation, modernization, and even whole-scale rebuilding is OK, but it should be with an eye more towards historical accuracy than Romantic Age re-imagining (ie, Het Gravensteen in Gent is in, Stohlzenfels- that bright yellow castle near Koblenz- and Burg Hohenzollern are out). I admit this very subjective. - The current state should be more or less intact. Its OK if part of the wall or a tower or two have crumbled, but at least the keep should remain in good condition. Meaning, if the medieval lord were transported forward in time, he could still live in his castle with only minimal renovations. - The castle's primary function should have been a fortified residence. Purely military fortifications, like Namur's citadel, are out.

Posted by
12040 posts

OK, so here's some that I know that meet the above criterion. The first few are obvious: Burg Eltz, near Moselkern, Rheinland-Pfaltz, Germany Marksburg, Braubach, Rheinland-Pfaltz, Germany Tower of London, UK Het Gravensteen, Gent, Belgium Burg Zwingenburg, Zwingenberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany Burg Breuberg, Breuberg, Hessen, Germany Ronneburg, Ronneburg, Hessen, Germany Burg Idstein, Idstein, Germany, Kronburg, Kronberg im Taunus, Hessen, Germany Burg zu Burghausen, Burghausen, Bavaria, Germany (cont)

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12040 posts

Burg Trausnitz, Landshut, Bavaria, Germany Burg Falkenstein, Hartz District, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany Felsburg, Felsberg, Hessen, Germany Burg Stolberg, Stolberg, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany (this one just barely qualifies) Wartburg, Eisenach, Thüringen, Germany (the keep was extensively "Romanticized" in the 19th century, but I include it here because it occupies the same footprint as the original keep and is structurally very similar to the original, if a bit more fancifull in appearance). Kasteel van Horst, near Leuven, Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium Chateau du Sombreffe, Sombreffe, Namur, Belgium Chateau de Corroy-le-Chateau, Gembloux, Namur, Belgium Chateau de Reinhardstein, Ofivat, Liége, Belgium Chateau des Carondelet, Crupet, Namur, Belgium Honorable mention goes to Kasteel van Beersel outside of Brussels... from the outside it looks well preserved, but once inside, you can see that most of the inner keep has crumbled.

Posted by
12040 posts

Two other contenders that I don't know the name of or anything about, other than that they appear relatively original. One is that prominent castle near the southern tip of Liechtenstein, and the other is the castle you can see on the mountain as you drive from Bern to Basel, before you enter the tunnel into the Swiss Jura mountains. I also recall passing several castles along the Brenner Pass that appeared very well maintained, but I otherwise no nothing about them. Didn't Rick Steves visit one of these on his TV show? OK, do you have any nominations?

Posted by
110 posts

How about Stirling or Edinburgh castles? Or most of the castles in Whales? Sorry can't remember all of their names right now.

Posted by
1064 posts

I would add the castles at Sedan, France, and Vianden and Clervaux, Luxembourg.

Posted by
2738 posts

Hi Tom, The one you're thinking of by the Brenner on a RS show is Reifenstein Castle/Castel Tasso by Sterzing/Vipiteno. Others for your list: Churburg Castle/Castel Coira, Schluderns/Sluderno, Italy (Sud Tirol). Juval Castle, Kastelbell, Italy (Sud Tirol). Schloss Tirol/Castel Tirolo, Tirol, Italy (Sud Tirol).
Trostburg Castle, Waidbruck/Ponte Gardena, Italy (near Val Gardena).

Posted by
16941 posts

I'll nominate Haut Koenigsbourg outside of Selestat, France.

Posted by
1068 posts

I don't have any castles to add... it's not even 7am and my brain isn't in the 'on' position... but I did want to say - wow! What a cool thing to do! Will you be blogging the final list or posting it to a web page when you've gotten it complete? This is really cool project! Thanks!

Posted by
811 posts

How 'bout the biggest brick castle in the world? Malbork Castle in Malbork, Poland (not far from Gdansk)

Posted by
3252 posts

I love the very authentic looking castles poised at each other along the banks of the Dordogne river in France. We had the pleasure of visiting one at Castleneud that was in the process of being restored, with its own tumbled down stones, with a man who described playing among the stones with his sister when he was a boy. Seeing the gigantic catapults aimed at the Beynac castle across the river on a hill really brought the 100 Years War and history to life in this region.

Posted by
18467 posts

I think Harburg Castle, on the Romantic Road between Donauwörth and Nördlingen, is intact, although parts of it have been renovated as a hotel. Note: Harburg Castle is easily accessible by car, but a little difficult, although still accessible, by train (I did it at 63 yo). The station is about a 1 km walk south of town and doesn't have lockers. If you are staying in, for example, Nördlingen, it's about a 15 min trip to Harburg. You can do it in a half day and keep your bags in Nördlingen. The southern branch of the Hohenzollern family built a castle in Sigmaringen, starting in around 1100. Most of the existing castle was finished more recently (16th century), built over and incorporating parts of the original one, and some of the residence part burned and was rebuilt in the late 1800s.

Posted by
5371 posts

Edinburgh Castle for sure. Beynac and Castelnaud in the Dordogne if the medieval lord brings his own furniture and window covering. Dover Castle likewise. Caernarfon in Wales likewise. Conwy and Beaumaris maybe not. Do Alnwick and Bambergh in Northumberland count? Both are fully habitable with much internal improvement but the basic structures are old enough to meet your test. Seems like Warwick qualifies, though it was many years ago I was there. Windsor? Why not?
Maybe I'm overthinking this. Good project though.

Posted by
8243 posts

Oh, I had forgotten about Breuburg Castle. We went there once to look around. Fun hostel for kids, but watch your car. Our friends had their window smashed and the GPS stolen out of their car. Surprise crime in a very rural area, with hardly any cars in the parking lot either.

Posted by
389 posts

Actually I remember being disappointed when I learned that the Gravensteen in Ghent was almost completely rebuilt; and as I recall the original layout is unknown, so the accuracy is doubtful.

Posted by
850 posts

One that we recently visited was the Cesky Krumlov Castle. Dates back to the 14th century with some renovations since. Beautiful Castle.

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850 posts

Lake Bled Castle is said to be the oldest in Slovenia. Beautiful views from the castle of Lake Bled and the region including the Julian Alps in the distance. Also in Slovenia is the unusual Predjama Castle built in the mouth of a cave.

Posted by
12040 posts

The reason Het Gravensteen makes the list is because it lacks all the Romanti-era ornamentation that most 19th century rebuilds received (for example, like Burg Hohenzollern). Even if the rebuilders didn't know exactly how it used to look, they at least took a pretty educated guess. I've visited Sigmaringen, but it doesn't make the cut because most of it has a Renaissance and Romatic era character, and virtually none of the original defensive structures remain. I wouldn't even call it a castle anymore, I'd say it's more of a palace (Burg vs. Schloß). But thanks for the nominations so far. Keep them coming.

Posted by
13284 posts

For Italian castles there is actually an Italian organization that has the most comprehensive database on castles of Italy. I guess it was a project similar to yours.
Unfortunately their website appears to be in Italian only, but Google Translate can help you. http://www.icastelli.it/

Posted by
2876 posts

I'll nominate Chinon Castle in Chinon, France - also known as the Chateau de Chinon. It's been very recently restored. It dates back to the 11th century & has a great history. For one thing, it's the castle where Joan of Arc persuaded King Charles VII to give her an army. Also, Richard the Lionhearted lived there in the 12th century before departing for the Crusades. It's in a great wine region, too. It definitely fits your criteria.

Posted by
150 posts

Of those that I have visited that I found particularly impressive: Pembroke Castle (Wales); partially ruined but still with a lot of defining features intact (defensive walls, towers, keep etc) Chillon Castle (Switzerland); impressive-looking castle, not only by its architecture but also by its dramatic location right on the lakeside. Also, access is via a drawbridge - how much more castle-y can you get? Dover Castle (England): again, impressive in its own right and also by its location on the clifftops of Dover. The fact that it has a network of tunnels below it that were used during WWII is a bonus, it's quite interesting to consider that a medieval defence structure was still being used for its intended purpose well into the 20th century (maybe not quite in the same way, but still...).

Posted by
714 posts

I would have nominated Pevensey Castle in the UK - but it is pretty ruined. However, you can still see the Roman walls surrounding the Medieval keep, and you can see the anit-aircraft emplacements built into the Roman walls. Also the rooms that quartered British (and American) troops in WWII. Definitely Windsor in spite of heavy rebuilding in Victorian times and more recently after the devastating fire in one area. The still used regularly by the Royal Family. Warwick Castle - now quite touristy but still a lovely castle and a nice little town. Tintagel - ruined but with its connections to the Athurian legend not to be missed. Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland and also Castle Urquhart on shores of Loch Ness. Holyrood House, Edinborough. Not a true castle but a fortified residence with a long history.

Posted by
13227 posts

My nominations for what impressed me on Schlösser as opposed to a Burg: Chateau Vincennes in Paris, Chateau Fontainebleau, (predates Versailles), Burg Warburg in Warburg/Westfalen, and Schloß Köpenick in Berlin-Köpenick.

Posted by
527 posts

Tom would Burg Ludwigstein, near Witzenhausen, qualify for your list? I believe it's from the 15th century.

Posted by
5669 posts

Edinburgh Castle for sure and Stirling Castle. What about Glamis Castle? A lot of it is 17th century, but the core keep is still there. For that matter, the same can be said about Dunrobin. Sadly, I think Linlithgow and Doune Castle don't qualify. They are a bit too much of ruins although, great places to visit. Blackness Castle on the Firth of Forth is in pretty good shape. Cawdor Castle was a tower house from the 15th century and it still has its drawbridge. Drum Castle is definitely medieval. Duarte Castle on Mull is wonderful. You can almost see the long boats going past. :) Dunvegan Castle on Skye is continuously occupied the longest of any castle in Scotland. Traquair House might qualify as its fortified, but its more of a mansion. Pam

Posted by
403 posts

I would nominate Mauterndorf and Hohensalzburg in Austria. Hohenwerfen is extremely cool as well. The main building burned and was rebuilt authentically in the 1930's, so I don't know if that counts.

Posted by
951 posts

you forgot to mention the castle in Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber........Mayor Toppler's summer home down in the valley. As per Rick Steves, it is called a castle. It is 600 years old. LOL.

Posted by
289 posts

I am not sure if this one qualifies. I wanted to visit in May when we were in Germany, but we ran out of time. It sounds like there has been a castle on the site since 1200, but fell into disrepare and was renovated... Lichtenstein Castle near Tubingen, Germany
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lichtenstein_Castle There are also a bunch along the Neckar river near Heidelberg. Not sure if they would count since many of them are in ruins.

Posted by
12040 posts

Susan, I ruled out Lichtenstein. Too much Romantic-era character. Of the castles in the Neckar river valley, I included Zwingenburg, and debated adding Burg Hirschhorn and Hornburg, but ultimatey left them off. Hornburg is too ruined, and Hirschhorn is basically a ruin with a hotel built in the middle of it. There's one just down river from Bad Wimpfen that might also qualify, but I have to investigate it further. The rest are all either too ruined or too Romanticized.