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A Sampling of the World's Most Famous Castles
Throughout the world, castles have been a popular destination for travellers. The first castle was built by William the Conqueror of Normandy in 1066 to guard against invasion from enemy forces, yet, over the centuries, kings and other leaders built castles as a show of power rather than a fortress to keep enemies out. A lesser known fact about castles is that the first were built from wood and earth, not a very strong defence against attacks by fire. It was not until the 17th century that stone was used to build new castles and fortify older ones.
Today, there are many castles that fuel the imagination with their rich histories and lingering mysteries. One of the most modern castles is the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. This 19th century castle was commissioned by King Ludwig the II who died under suspicious circumstances before it was completed. Shortly after he was declared insane, King Ludwig was found dead, floating in Lake Starnberg. A memorial cross marks the spot in the water where he was discovered.
One of the most intriguing castles is that of Vlad the Impaler, located in central Romania in the Vallachia Region. Though in ruins today, the Poenari Castle, the original "Dracula's Castle," still conjures up images of vampires and the evils perpetrated by Vlad Tepes. Bran Castle, located in Transylvania, is more often considered "Dracula's Castle" because of the horrors of Vlad the Impaler's murderous deeds while he occupied it.
Leap Castle, located in County Offaly, is considered one of the most haunted places in Ireland. It is believed to be haunted by those who were imprisoned and executed here and to be home to an apparition known as the "elemental," a frightening and grotesque human-like figure whose appearance is accompanied by the stench of decomposition. It is said to instill dread and fear to those who see it.
The world's castles continue to intrigue visitors for their beauty and often disturbing histories. Many are shrouded in mystery and speculation, taking visitors back in time as they move through darkened corridors, rooms, and dungeons. Though some castles are dark and forboding, others stand majestically with bright and stunning artistry. People have tried to unlock their secrets but many still remain. For those seeking a fantastic and memorable vacation, a visit to one or a few of the many thousands of castles throughout the world will not disappoint.