Castles have history and can be exciting to visit, so when looking for great destination ideas keep in mind that having something to see can often be more fun than sitting by the pool at the hotel for the whole vacation. The great thing about castles is that they are scattered around the world, so wherever the vacation lands there are bound to be a few castles waiting to be discovered around the corner. In the mean time, here are a few castles that might prove interesting to build into the next family vacation.
Warwick Castle, home of the Kingmaker of Shakespearian fame. Built in scenic Warwickshire less than two hours from London, the castle has been in existence since the early 10th Century. Continually expanded over the centuries, the castle now boasts possibly the best maintained castle in all of England. In addition to the castle itself, there is an expansive collection of arms and armor and even several interactive tours that depict life in the castle at varying points in its history.
Jumping north by overnight train is Edinburgh Castle. Built on an extinct volcano in the center of Edinburgh the castle has a rich history beginning around 900 BC and stretching up to the present. In addition to exploring the castle and learning about its long and bloody history, there are several other attractions including the crown jewels, the National War Museum, and even the Edinburgh Tattoo
On the far side of the globe lies Himeji Castle, the jewel of all Japanese castles. Located in Himeji, about four hours from Tokyo, this castle is one of the few original castles remaining in Japan. Most castles, built to protect cities during the feudal period were either severely damaged or destroyed during during World War II. Himeji, however, managed to survive. Built in 1333 and known as the "White Heron" castle, Himeji is one of the few remaining examples of the intricate defenses of the Japanese feudal period. Built as a maze surrounding the central keep, the interlocking system of gates and strong-points that successfully protected the castle through the years. See the beauty of the original castle as it was built to not just be a fortress, but also a home.
Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany is often called a fairy tale castle. Built on a mountaintop in the late 19th Century by Ludwig II of Bavaria. It was constructed as a personal retreat, but was never used as a military fortress. While it was constructed in the style of a castle, Ludwig wanted it to contain all the comforts of a palace. With amazingly intricate architecture and decorating, Neuschwanstein Castle has remained a major tourist stop since Ludwig's death in 1886.
Located in India Mehrangarh Fort may be the most impressive castle the country has to offer. Built on a rocky hill above the surrounding plain, the fort was the headquarters for the Rathores for over five centuries. The castle was a place of refuge through the turbulent conflicts that continually swept through the land. Now, in addition to an amazing castle, there are large collections of art, arms and armor, and historical items from the surrounding area.
San Felipe Castle in Cartegena, Columbia is a perfect example of new world fortification. Established by the Spanish in 1537, it expanded several times and several times was involved in battle. Positioned to protect the entire bay, the castle successfully protected the Spanish hold in the Columbia. Interlaced with tunnels and interlocking fortifications the castle affords a full day of exploration and enjoyment. The castle itself is the main attraction, with sights overlooking the city and countryside adding to the day.
When the vacation is set and everything is in order, remember there are often castles waiting. They afford history and excitement to any world traveler, and while they should be a part of any trip, remember, a vacation should be about relaxing the body, expanding the mind, and changing your worldview.