What is the last castle you have visited? How many castles have you visited in your life? Castles are a great way to get an idea of what happened in the past. You can practically study the history and timeline of mankind by visiting castles. Some of them are more than thousands of years old. Today, we will take a look at some of the oldest castles in the world.
For centuries, castles have played the role of guardians of time. They are shrouded with mysteries, tales of hauntings, fairy tales, Kings, Queens, folklore, and what more.
You can find the most amazing castles in Europe. Spain, Ireland, and England are some of the countries that have a long history with Queens and Kings. But there are stunning castles all around the world.
There is something amazing about visiting a castle built an entire millennium ago. And by visiting some old castles, you can do just that.
Let’s check the list.
Chambord Castle, Loire Valley, France
This is the largest and most prestigious castle in France. Built for King Francis I in the 16th century, the Chateau de Chambord is famous for its French Renaissance architecture. The castle borrows elements from classic Medieval castles as well, but blends in perfectly with contemporary Renaissance structures.
The big controversy about the castle is who built it. Some attribute the original design to Domenico da Cortona. His wooden model design survived for a while.
Another theory is that Leonardo da Vinci itself designed the castle. He was a guest of Francis at Clos Luce near Amboise. And the King commissioned the great Leonardo to build the largest and most majestic castle of the Loire.
The construction on the recognizable chateaux started in 1519 and finished in 1547.
Chateau de Doue-la-Fontaine, France
We have another French castle on this list, this one built in the 10th century. Some know it by the common name, Motte de la Chapelle. This motte and bailey castle was built upon the foundations of an older 9th-century castle.
Fun fact: the castle was a commune in western France until 2016 when it became part of Doue-en-Anjou. Located in the center of the historic province Anjou, the town has existed since late antiquity.
Today, you can visit the castle to see the oldest donjon (or a keep) in France. Some historians believe this was the first castle in Europe built from stone.
Citadel of Aleppo – Syria
Arguably one of the oldest castles in the world, the Citadel of Aleppo was established in 3000 BCE. It still stands, but it got greatly damaged during the Syrian Civil War.
The large medieval fortified palace in the old city of Aleppo in northern Syria is among the largest castles in the world.
Usage of the Citadel dates back to the 3rd millennium BC. In 1415, the Mamluk governor of Aleppo was authorized to rebuild the citadel.
In 1986, the site was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. The current structure was built during the Ayuubid dynasty during the 12th century.
You can say it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Some believe it has been inhabited since the sixth millennium BC.
Dunrobin Castle, Scotland
The building you see today was completed in 1845. Yet, there are records of this site since the 15th century.
There are indications there was a fortress at the site since the early Middle Ages. With close to 190 rooms, the mansion is the largest castle in the northern Highlands.
The castle is a stately home in Sutherland, in the Highland area of Scotland. It is also the family seat of the Earl of Sutherland and the Clan Sutherland.
Fun fact: during the First World War, it was used as a hospital. From 1965 to 1972, the castle was used as a boys’ boarding school.
The Reichsburg Cochem, Germany
Historians believe this castle was built around the year 1000 by the Palatinate count Ezzo. As such, it is one of the oldest castles in the world.
The earliest documentation of the castle dates back to 1051 when Ezzo’s oldest daughter and former Queen of Poland gave the castle to her nephew, Palatine Count Henry I.
In 1151, after King Konrad III occupied the castle by force, it officially became an Imperial castle. French King Louis XIV’s troops partially destroyed it in 1688, but it was then restored in 1868 in Gothic revival style.
Since 1978, the town of Cochem owns the castle. The company Reichsburg GmbH operates and administrates the castle.
Much of the town’s medieval history was influenced by the mighty castle.
Prague Castle, Czech Republic
To this day, the Prague castle remains one of the largest castles you can see from the Middle Ages. The early structure included only a few buildings. Yet, over time, the castle expanded to include more housing and stronger fortification.
Nowadays, the castle operates more than 70,000 square meters. The Guinness Book of Records lists it as one of the largest ancient castles in the world.
The castle serves as the office of the President of the Czech Republic and as the hiding place for the Bohemian Crown Jewels. Visitors can admire the architecture of the castle, but also a lot of jewels.
Besides the Bohemian Crown Jewels, Prague castle is home to precious Christian relics, art treasures, and many historical documents.
Warwick Castle, England
Built by William the Conqueror in 1068, the Warwick Castle is one of the oldest castles in England. Earls of Warwick rebuilt the castle over the next 100 years, all of them adding to the original layout.
As with many old castles, Warwick was hit by fire and storms, and enemy attacks over the years. There were a lot of repairs.
Starting from the 17th century, the Greville family owned the castle for 300 years. Then, in 1978, they sold it to an entertainment business for $1.7 million.
The company now operates the castle as a place where visitors can walk around and visit the dungeons of the castle. The dungeon attraction is very scary, but you get to see a lot of history doing it.
Castillo de San Marcos, Florida, USA
This is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. The large Spanish stone fortress was built to protect and defend Spain’s claims in the New World. Today, it is a National Monument. With its history dating to more than 300 years, it is the oldest structure in St. Augustine.
The castle has been attacked several times. It has been besieged two times, once by English colonial forces led by Governor James Moore in 1702, and then by English colonial Governor James Oglethorpe in 1740. Yet, the castle was never taken by force or defeated.
Alcazar of Segovia, Spain
The name translates to Segovia Fortress. It is a medieval castle that has served its purpose as a fortress, palace, prison, college, and military academy throughout history.
The earliest structure at the location was a Roman fort. Yet, the present structure was built in the early 12th century.
Some people say that this castle inspired parts of Walt Disney’s design for Cinderella’s castle. Nowadays, Alcazar serves as a museum and military archive.
UNESCO has declared it as a World Heritage Site.
While you might think of it as a Spanish castle, the fun part is that it was originally an Arab Fort. Moors constructed strongholds (Alcazars) when they conquered parts of Spain and Portugal.
Fun fact: Spain’s Queen Isabella I was crowned in this castle in 1474, just 18 years before she sponsored Christopher Columbus’s journey.
Windsor Castle, United Kingdom
We have to include the castle where the Queen lives, right? Elizabeth II, the Queen of England, lives in the castle from time to time. It is the official residence of the Queen every year from March to April for one month.
While Buckingham Palace is the official and main royal London home, the Queen regularly spends time at Windsor Castle.
The castle has strong ties with the British royal family, dating for 1,000 years of architectural history. The original castle was built in the 11th century following the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror.
Since the time of Henry I, the castle has been used by the reigning monarch and is the longest-occupied palace in Europe.
Originally, the castle was designed to protect Norman dominance around the outskirts of London. He wanted to use the castle to oversee a strategically important part of the River Thames. Originally, the castle was built as a motte and bailey castle, with three wards surrounding the central mound.
But over time, it was replaced with stone fortifications. During the English Civil War, it was used as a military headquarters by Parliamentary forces. Charles I used it as a prison.
Charles II rebuilt most of the castle at the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, creating the extravagant Baroque interior.
Hohensalzburg Castle, Austria
The castle was initially built in 1077 by Gebhard I of Helfenstein, who served as archbishop at the time. He was forced into exile in 1085, but his descendants completed the construction of the castle.
The fortress now lies high above the rooftops of the Baroque historical district. It is the biggest fully preserved castle in Central Europe and serves as the emblem of Salzburg.
The castle provides visitors with a 360-degree view of the city and the surroundings.