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Castle has a history of scholarly debate surrounding its exact meaning. It is usually regarded as being distinct from the general term fortress in that it describes a building which serves as a residence and commands a specific territory.

Despite this, "castle" sometimes denotes a citadel (such as the castles of Badajoz and Burgos) or small detached forts d'arrêt in modern times and, traditionally, in Britain it has also been used to refer to prehistoric earthworks (e.g. Maiden Castle).


Castle comes from the Latin word castellum meaning "fortress". This is a diminutive of the word castrum, which means "fortified place". The word "castle" (castel) was introduced into English shortly before the Norman Conquest to denote this new type of fortress, then new to England, brought in by the Norman knights. In Spain, a fortified dwelling on a height for the administering authority retains its Moorish name of alcázar, whilst shiro also figure prominently in Japanese history, where the feudal daimyo inhabited them.

A French castle is a château-fort, for in French a simple chateau connotes a grand country house at the center of an estate. When European castles were opened up and expanded into pleasure dwellings and power houses from the late 15th century, their "castle" designations, relics of the feudal age, often remained attached to the dwelling, resulting in many un-castlelike castles and châteaux.

In Germany there are two names for what would be called a castle in English, Burg and Schloss. A Burg is a medieval structure of military significance, while a Schloss was built after the Middle Ages as a palace and not for defensive purposes. However, these are not usually palaces in the French style, but instead are styled on medieval mountain castles and fairytale notions, and from all appearances are often castles to an English speaker.

Caer is the Welsh term for a fort or a castle, seen in the place names Caernarfon and Caerphilly. Irish dún and Scots Gaelic dùn are used to refer to early forts (see dun), although Scots Gaelic uses the term caisteal for a castle.    [more..]

to Know more:

Recommended books:

The History of Castles: Fortifications Around the World
The History of Castles: Fortifications Around the World

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Castles: England + Scotland + Ireland + Wales

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Castles of the Western World: With 240 Illustrations

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Bordeaux Chateaux: A History of the Grands Crus Classes 1855-2005

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German Village Stories Behind the Bricks (Landmarks)

 Popular castles:

  • Neuschwanstein Castle (Bavaria, Germany ) - Build for: Ludwig II of Bavaria (1869)

  • Palace of Versailles (Ile-de-France, France ) - Build for: Louis XIII (XVII century)

  • Chateau de Chenonceau (Indre-et-Loire, France ) - Build for: Francis I of France (XVI century)

  • Chateau de Chambord (Loir-et-Cher, France ) - Build for: François I of France (XVI century)

  • Linderhof Palace (Bavaria, Germany ) - Build for: Ludwig II of Bavaria (1874)

  • Leeds Castle (Kent, England) - Build for: Henry I (1119)

  • Chateau de Blois (Loir-et-Cher, France ) - Build for: Louis XII (XIV century)

  • Nymphenburg Palace (Bavaria, Germany ) - Build for: Henriette Adelaide of Savoy (1664)

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    Featured Castles:

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      1. Neuschwanstein Castle

      Location: Bavaria, Germany
      ( 118 km south-west of Munich )

      Commissioned by: Ludwig II of Bavaria
      Completed: 1892
      Main structures: The gatehouse, a Bower, the Knight's House - with a square tower, and a Palas or citadel
      Current use: touristic attraction
      Visitors: 1.3 million per year

      In the Web:

    Neuschwanstein Castle, royal palace
    Image by stavrospap2004

    more photos on

      2. Windsor Castle

      Location: Berkshire, England
      ( 40 km west of London )

      Description: Rather than a single castle, Windosor can be described as a large set of related buildings, fortress and towers, surrounded by a huge wall. With over 1,000 years of history, visitors may be surprised at the pristine condition of the complex as one of the official residences of the British royal family, the castle is in perfect condition as a royal residence and one of the major tourist attractions in the London area.

      Coming from the Long Walk (south), you enter Windsor below the South Wing and enter the The Upper Ward (a large courtyard). Ahead of you (to the north) , there areThe State Apartments. To your left, there are the Private Apartaments. Walking to your right (west), you will find the central part of Windsor, the Round Tower, that houses the Royal Archives. To the West of the Round Tower you will find the Lower Ward and the St. George's Chapel, an active centre for worship, with daily services open to all.

      Main structures: The Round Tower, The State Apartments, King Henry VIII Gate, St George's Chapel, The Quadrangle, Edward III Tower, The Curfew Tower
      Floor area: 45,000 square metres
      Current use: Official residences of the British monarchy
      Visitors: 1.1 million per year

      In the Web:

    Windsor Castle
    Image by adarshr

    more photos on

      3. Chateau de Chambord

      Location: Loir-et-Cher, France
      ( 179 km south-east of Paris )

      Commissioned by: King François I
      Current use: touristic attraction

      In the Web:

    Chateau de Chambord
    Image by smenzel

    more photos on

      4. Hunedoara Castle

      Location: Hunedoara County, Transylvania, Romania
      ( 393 km north-west of Bucharest )

      Commissioned by: Anjou family
      Year of construction : 1320
      Current use: touristic attraction

      In the Web:

    The castle of Hunedoara
    Image by SBA73

    more photos on

      5. Castel Nuovo

      Location: Naples, Italy
      Commissioned by: Charles I of Anjou
      Current use: touristic attraction

      In the Web:

    Castel Nuovo, Naples, Italy
    Image by jojonks

    more photos on

      6. Alcazar of Segovia

      Location: Segovia, Spain
      Commissioned by: King Alfonso VIII
      Completed: 1120 ??
      Current use: touristic attraction

      In the Web:

    View of the Alcazar, Segovia, Spain
    Image by Alaskan Dude

    more photos on

      7. Forchtenstein Castle

      Location: Forchtenstein, Austria
      Commissioned by: the Lords of Forchtenstein
      Completed: 17th century ?
      Current use: touristic attraction

      In the Web:

    Burg Forchtenstein, Austria
    Image by Michal Stankoviansky

    more photos on

      8. Ciergnon Castle

      Location: Ciergnon, Belgium
      Commissioned by: King Leopold II of Belgium
      Completed: ?
      Current use: summer retreat of the Belgian Royal Family

      In the Web:

    Ciergnon Castle - no images by now
    Image by

    more photos on

      9. Chateau d'Essalois

      Location: Chambles, France
      Commissioned by: Léonard de Bertrand
      Completed: 1580 ?
      Current use: touristic attraction

      In the Web:

    lview from the highest tower of Château d'Essalois looking down at the Loire
    Image by EricMagnuson

    more photos on

      10. Marselisborg Palace

      Location: Aarhus, Denmark
      Current use: summer residence of the Danish Royal Family

      In the Web:

    Marselisborg Palace
    Image by martin8th

    more photos on

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