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Photo by Ray Bilcliff

The Castles of Europe hold a special place in the hearts of photographers. Rich in history, each castle that dots the European countryside tells its own story of long-dead kings and queens, battles, and the shaping of nations. With such a story to tell, is it any surprise that the castles of Europe are a favourite subject of photographers? Discover our top picks for pics and capture the magnificence, opulence, and beauty of Europe’s most beautiful castles. Don’t miss the Most Beautiful Castles of Europe – Part 2!

Pena Palace - Photo by Michaela Loheit

Pena Palace - Photo by Michaela Loheit

Pena Palace is a hill-top Romanticist castle in the Sintra Mountains looking down at the village of Sintra. On a clear day, it can be seen as far away as Lisbon and is an iconic addition to the Portuguese countryside. Widely regarded as one of the best expressions of 19th-century Romanticism, the Pena Palace is now a Portuguese National Monument. Construction of Pena Palace dates back to the mid 19th century when King Ferdinand II chose this site as a summer home for the Portuguese Royalty. The king built a castle that became a mishmash of architectural styles, colours, and towers, appealing to his ever-changing tastes. Pena Palace is brightly coloured and appears as if created from borrowed parts of many other castles. The interior is no less unusual or opulent, with rooms adopting stylistic touches as far-ranging as Middle Eastern to European baroque. Following the revolution of 1910, the Portuguese Royal family fled the country, resulting in the abandonment of Pena Palace. Restored in the latter half of the 20th century, Pena Palace became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and opened to the public. While visitors can tour the castle, sadly there are no photos permitted of the interior. Despite these rules, Pena Palace is a fascinating and unique photography location and well worth the visit for the travelling photographer. (Sintra, Portugal)

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Eilean Donan Castle - Photo by Miquel Rosselló Calafell

Eilean Donan Castle - Photo by Miquel Rosselló Calafell

Few Castles in Europe have the appeal for photographers that Eilean Donan Castle does. A stunning example of a medieval-era castle, the fortification is surrounded by water and features a stone arch bridge. Perhaps best of all, this 13th century gem shows its age, being restored just enough but retaining an authenticity few other European castles maintain. Eilean Donan Castle went through several phases of development from the earliest fortifications of the 13th century through to its destruction in 1719, and the subsequent reconstruction in the 20th century. Today Eilean Donan is a magnet for photographers in the Scottish Highlands and a must-visit for any shutterbug in the region. (Kyle, Scotland, United Kingdom)

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Castle Satzvey - Photo by Herbert Aust

Castle Satzvey - Photo by Herbert Aust

A stunning waterfront castle in the Rhineland region, Castle Satsvey dates from the 14th-century and has been in the same family for over 3000 years. Moated and turreted, the castle is a very authentic and lovely structure to photograph. As well as tours, the castle often has exciting regular events including jousting and medieval-themed fairs. (Mechernich, Germany)

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Oystermouth Castle - Photo by Gareth Lovering Photography

Oystermouth Castle - Photo by Gareth Lovering Photography

Oystermouth Castle is the extremely photogenic remains of a Welsh Castle that was in use from the 1100s to the 1600s. This stone fortification has tall, imposing walls and sits atop a hill in the region that shares its name. Oystermouth Castle's location and scale are some of the castle's most photogenic qualities, making it beautiful from up close and far away. Oystermouth Castle is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful castle ruins in Wales and the United Kingdom for photography. (Mumbles, Wales)

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Schloss Nordkirchen - Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski

Schloss Nordkirchen - Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski

Schloss Nordkirchen is a stunning castle that is immensely photogenic. But it is truly the ornate gardens that surround this stunning Versailles-style palace. The red-brick 1700s building set on an island with sprawling landscaped gardens that are a delight to photograph. Be sure to capture its natural beauty in the early hours of dawn or at golden hour in the evenings. (Nordkirchen, Germany)

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Hohenzollern Castle - Photo by Jonathan Sautter

Hohenzollern Castle - Photo by Jonathan Sautter

Initially built in the high middle ages, Hohenzollern Castle fell into disrepair following numerous sieges culminating its abandonment in the 1700s. Crown-Prince Frederick William IV of Prussia visited the site in the late 1800s and determined that it should be restored. By the 1950s, it was made habitable and became home to many treasures, including the Crown of Wilhelm II, some of the personal effects of King Frederick the Great, and a letter from US President George Washington thanking Hohenzollern descendant Baron von Steuben for his service in the American Revolutionary War. Today it sits atop the mountains in resplendent glory, an iconic and picture-perfect example of medieval castles. Visitors can now tour the facilities and photographically speaking, the interior and exteriors are both magnificent. The castle is particularly spectacular in winter, with a light dusting of snow on the treetops and in the courtyards. (Burg Hohenzollern, Germany)

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Wernigerode Castle - Photo by Lukas Hartmann

Wernigerode Castle - Photo by Lukas Hartmann

Finished in the late 19th century, Wernigerode Castle is one of the most photogenic in Germany. Constructed in the baroque style, this castle (technically a Schloss or Manor House) sits on the high edge of a tall hill next to the town of Wernigerode in the Hartz mountains. Originally a medieval defensive fort, over centuries, the castle was modified and adapted until Count Otto of Stolberg-Wernigerode renovated the structure to its present form. Today portions of the castle are open to tours, and around 40 rooms can be visited. Because of Wernigerode Castle's intelligent design, the profile and appearance of the castle will dramatically change at every 45 degrees. With it sitting where it is atop the hills, photographers can shoot it from all over the surrounding area, meaning many different styles and views are possible. While picturesque at any time of year, Wernigerode Castle is particularly photogenic in the winter when a light dusting snow caps the castle's gabled roof and the surrounding pine trees. (Wernigerode, Hartz, Germany)

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Mont Saint-Michel View - Photo by Dmitriy Don

Mont Saint-Michel View – Photo by Dmitriy Don

Mont Saint Michel is an island-based structure that is a commune and abbey. While not technically a castle, Mont Saint Michel certainly has the appearance of one so we've decided to categorize it as one. Originally built on dry land, erosion and environmental changes have made Mont Saint Michel a tidal Island. The first known settlement at this location was an abbey built in the 8th century. Photographically this is one of the most stunning photo spots in all of France and is a pleasure to photograph, particularly when the tide is out. (Normandy, France)

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Bodiam Castle - Photo by WyrdLight.com

Bodiam Castle - Photo by WyrdLight.com

Bodiam Castle is a 14th-century castle near Robertsbridge that is surrounded by a moat. It is precisely what you picture when you imagine a medieval castle, with circular towers at each corner, a large gated entrance, and steep walls to protect its inhabitants. For this reason, it has been a set piece for numerous tv shows and films, including Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail, where it was a stand-in for the Swamp Castle. Bodiam Castle was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a former knight of Edward III. The original purpose of the castle was likely to defend the area against French invasion during the Hundred Years' War. The exterior remains in excellent condition while the interior is almost entirely ruinous. The large watery moat, classic design and beautiful setting make Bodiam Castle one of the most picturesque in all of Europe. (Robertsbridge, England, United Kingdom)

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Bamburgh Castle - Photo by Ray Bilcliff

Bamburgh Castle - Photo by Ray Bilcliff

A coastal fortress built upon volcanic rock. The location once served as the capital of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Bernicia but was destroyed by the Vikings in AD 993. The Normans built a castle on the site, which in time grew to be the fortress it is today. It deteriorated over time and was restored by various owners during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was finally bought by the Victorian era industrialist William Armstrong, who completed its restoration. The castle still belongs to the Armstrong family and it is now open to the public. It is particular beautiful during sunset because of its waterfront location. (Bamburgh, United Kingdom)

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Discover Even More Beautiful Castles

Well, that concludes Part 1 of our selection of the most beautiful castles in Europe. Be sure to check out Most Beautiful Castles of Europe – Part 2 and explore even more castles from all over the world. You can also see all the castles in the PIXEO collection below. Discover new ones, and more importantly, see where every castle is on our PIXEO Map . Don’t forget, if we’re missing a beautiful castle photography spot, and you have a shot of one, you can upload it here and win prizes!