CLOSE

7 Real-Life Fairytale Castles

Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful young girl, who was a lot like you. She had no mother to protect her, and suffered some horrible injustice at the hands of someone who was jealous of her beauty. But eventually, Prince Charming came along on a white horse and rescued her. He took her off to his fabulous castle, where they lived happily ever after. The end. But where is this castle now? Many of our Disneyfied visions of fairy tale castles are modeled on real medieval castles in Europe. Barring acts of war or total abandonment, they are still there for us to see.

1. Burg Eltz

Eltz Castle is near Münstermaifeld, Germany. It is a complex of palaces serving different parts of the original family of the House of Eltz, first mentioned in official records in the year 1157. The manor house of that time, called Platteltz, has been added to over the centuries. The section called Rübenach house was completed in 1472. The Rodendorf house section was built over the next fifty years, and the Kempenich house was completed around 1530. The current owner is Dr. Karl Graf von und zu Eltz, of the 33rd generation of the family to own Burg Eltz. The castle is open to tourists. 

2. Schloss Neuschwanstein

Neuschwanstein Castle is not literally medieval, as construction began in 1869. King Ludwig II of Bavaria commissioned the building to resemble earlier German palaces. However, the result combines elements of Romanesque, Gothic, and Byzantine architecture. The king, who lived in the castle for only six months, died in 1886, but construction of the palace went on until 1892. Neuschwanstein Castle is still not totally completed. The Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland was modeled in part on Neuschwanstein Castle.

3. Château de Pierrefonds

Pierrefonds Castle is a medieval fortress in the French Forest of Compiègne. It was first built in the 12th century and rebuilt by King Charles VI's brother Louis from 1393 to 1407. Badly damaged by an attack in 1617, it lay in ruin for two centuries. Emperor Napoleon III ordered the restoration of the castle in 1857, which went on until 1885. The restoration project was abandoned due to lack of funds. The castle is now open for tourism.

4. Burg Hohenzollern

Hohenzollern Castle near Hechingen, Germany, is the ancestral home of the royal Hohenzollern family of Prussia. The original castle was built prior to 1267, which is the oldest written reference found. It was destroyed in 1423 and rebuilt beginning in 1454, but that version fell into ruin after centuries of neglect. Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia began a reconstruction in 1850. The castle, stilled owned by the Hohenzollern family, is open for tours

5. Schloss Sigmaringen

Sigmaringen Castle in the Baden-Württemberg region of Germany, was built for the Sigmaringen family, which eventually became a branch of the Hohenzollern family. The earliest part of the castle was built prior to 1077, the date of its earliest written reference. The castle has been expanded many times since then, but the original edifice exists, buried under additional construction. The castle is owned by Prince Karl Friedrich of Hohenzollern, who lives elsewhere. The castle is open for tours

6. Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel was built on a tiny tidal island just off the French coast in the 8th century as a monastery. It was greatly expanded in the 11th and 12th centuries, then converted to a prison after the French Revolution. The prison closed in 1963. Mont Saint-Michel has been featured in numerous movies, cartoons, and even video games. Photograph by Flickr user poluz.

7. Lohrer Schloss

The Lohr Castle is in the town of Lohr a. Main, Germany. Currently it houses the Spessart Museum. This Bavarian castle was the birthplace of Maria Sophia Margaretha Catherina von Erthal, believed to be the inspiration for the Brothers Grimm story Snow White. To this day, the castle has a mirror on display known as the "Talking Mirror."

This post was inspired by a thread at reddit.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images
arrow
travel
Long-Closed Part of Westminster Abbey to Open to the Public for the First Time in 700 Years
The triforium in 2009
The triforium in 2009
Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images

On June 11, 2018, visitors to London's Westminster Abbey will get a look at a section of the historic church that has been off-limits for 700 years. That’s when the triforium, located high above the abbey floor, will open to the general public for the first time as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, according to Condé Nast Traveler.

The 13th-century space, located 70 feet above the nave floor, had previously been used for abbey storage. (One architecture critic who visited before the renovation described it as a “glorified attic.”) After a $32.5 million renovation, it will now become a museum with killer views.

The view from the triforium looking down onto the rest of Westminster Abbey
The view from the triforium looking down toward the ground floor of the abbey
Dan Kitwood, Getty Images

To access the area, which looks out over the nave and altar, architects built a new tower, the abbey’s first major addition since 1745. The 80-foot-tall, window-lined structure will provide brand-new vantage points to look out on surrounding areas of Westminster. Inside the triforium, the windows of the galleries look out onto the Houses of Parliament and St. Margaret’s church, and visitors will be able to walk around the upper mezzanine and look down onto the ground floor of the abbey below.

The museum itself will show off objects from Westminster Abbey’s history, such as a 17th-century coronation chair for Mary II and an altarpiece from Henry III’s reign, when the triforium was first constructed. Oh, and it will also display Prince William and Kate Middleton’s marriage license, for those interested in more modern royal history.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen
arrow
architecture
A Look at One of Norway's Most Beautiful Public Bathrooms
Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen
Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen

In Norway, beautiful architecture isn’t limited to new museums and opera houses. The country also has some incredible bathrooms, thanks to a program called the National Tourist Routes, which commissions architects to design imaginative, beautiful rest stops and lookout points to encourage travel in some of the country’s more remote areas.

One of the latest projects to be unveiled, as Dezeen alerted us, is a high-design commode in the northern Norwegian municipality of Gildeskål. The newly renovated site located along the Norwegian Scenic Route Helgelandskysten, called Ureddplassen, was recently opened to the public.

Bench seating outside the restroom, with mountains in the background
Lars Grimsby / State Road Administration

A view up the stairs of the amphitheater toward steep mountains
Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen

Designed by the Oslo-based designers Haugen/Zohar Architects and the landscape architects Landskapsfabrikken AS, the site includes an amphitheater, a viewing platform, and of course, a beautiful restroom. The area is a popular place to view the Northern Lights in the fall and winter and the midnight sun in the summer, so it sees a fair amount of traffic.

The site has been home to a monument honoring victims of the 1943 sinking of a World War II submarine called the Uredd since 1987, and the designers added a new marble base to the monument as part of this project.

A view of the monument to the soldiers lost in the sinking of the Uredd
Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen

Now, travelers and locals alike can stop off the highway for a quick pee in the restroom, with its rolling concrete and glass design, then plop down on the steps of the amphitheater to gaze at the view across the Norwegian Sea. It’s one rest stop you’ll actually want to rest at.

[h/t Dezeen]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios