10 Of The Oldest Castles In Europe You Can Actually Visit

By Lisa Melillo on March 10 2020 in Travel

The spectacular Reichsburg Cochem castle in Germany. Image credit: Wolkenkratzer/Wikimedia.org
The spectacular Reichsburg Cochem castle in Germany. Image credit: Wolkenkratzer/Wikimedia.org
  • The Citadel of Aleppo is the oldest castle in the world, with some parts of the structure dating back to 3000 BC.
  • Built in 1070 AD, Windsor Castle is the oldest castle that is still actively used today.
  • Prague Castle is the largest castle in the world at 70,000 square meters.

Few tourist attractions are as impressive to visit as castles. These awe-inspiring structures are characterized by their strong, fortified walls, often made of stone that is strong enough to remain standing for hundreds or even thousands of years. Check out a few of the oldest castles in the world that can still be visited today.

10. Alcázar of Segovia

Alcázar of Segovia. Image credit: Alcázar of Segovia/Wikimedia.org
Alcázar of Segovia. Image credit: Alcázar of Segovia/Wikimedia.org

It’s hard to know exactly how old the Alcázar of Segovia in Spain is, but the first written record of its existence is from 1120 AD. The fortress originally contained a small city that centered around an ancient church called the Cathedral of Santa Maria, but was later used as a royal residence.

9. Rochester Castle

Rochester Castle. Image credit: David Kerr/Wikimedia.org
Rochester Castle. Image credit: David Kerr/Wikimedia.org

Located in England, Rochester Castle was built in 1088 AD. Its stone structure replaced a former castle made of timber that had been destroyed during the Norman Conquest of 1066. It was initially occupied by archbishops of Canterbury before being turned over to the royal family. Over the years, the castle has been destroyed and rebuilt many times.

8. Hohenwerfen Fortress

Hohenwerfen Fortress. Image credit: Memorator/Wikimedia.org
Hohenwerfen Fortress. Image credit: Memorator/Wikimedia.org

Hohenwerfen Fortress is a castle in Salzburg, Germany that dates back to 1077 AD. It was commissioned by an archbishop and originally built from wood before being reinforced by the stone that stands today.

7. Windsor Castle

William the Conquerer built Windsor Castle in 1070 AD as a residence for the royals. It has remained occupied by a succession of kings and queens who have renovated and added onto the structure to suit their needs. Today, Windsor Castle the oldest occupied castle in the world.

6. Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle - Engine House, Waterwheel, Weir, and Old Castle Bridge. Image credit: DeFacto/Wikimedia.org
Warwick Castle - Engine House, Waterwheel, Weir, and Old Castle Bridge. Image credit: DeFacto/Wikimedia.org

In addition to building Windsor Castle, William the Conqueror also built Warwick Castle in 1068 AD. The castle housed the Earl of Warwick for many centuries until 1978, when it was sold to be turned into a tourist attraction.

5. Krak Des Chevaliers

Krak Des Chevaliers. Image credit: Ed Brambley/Flickr.com
Krak Des Chevaliers. Image credit: Ed Brambley/Flickr.com

This castle in Syria was built for the Emir of Aleppo in 1031 AD. It was used by the Knights Hospitaller throughout the medieval period and at one point housed up to 2,000 military men. The castle was eventually neglected, but managed to escape heavy damage during the Syrian civil war in the early 21st century.

4. Reichsburg Cochem

Reichsburg Cochem, Germany. Image credit: Heribert Pohl/Wikimedia.org
Reichsburg Cochem, Germany. Image credit: Heribert Pohl/Wikimedia.org

Reichsburg Cochem is a castle in Germany that is estimated to have been built around the year 1000 AD. It was used as a military stronghold until the 19th century, when it was converted into a summer residence for nobility. It’s now owned by the town of Cochem and functions as a tourist attraction.

3. Alhambra de Granada

The impressive architecture of the Alhambra de Granada. Image credit: JaritahLu/Wikimedia.org
The impressive architecture of the Alhambra de Granada. Image credit: JaritahLu/Wikimedia.org

The Alhambra de Granada’s origins are unknown, but any existing structure at the site in Spain was destroyed and replaced by today’s stone fortress in the year 889 AD. Its strategic location on a hilltop made it perfect for military defense. It was abandoned during the 18th century but later restored and preserved.

2. Prague Castle

Prague Castle. Image credit: Nitin Vyas/Flickr.com
Prague Castle. Image credit: Nitin Vyas/Flickr.com

Built in 880 AD, Prague Castle is located in the Czech Republic and holds the Guinness World Records title for largest castle at 70,000 square meters. Its age means that many different building styles have been used throughout the years, including Romanesque and Gothic architecture.

1. Citadel of Aleppo

Citadel of Aleppo. Image credit: Nitin Vyas/Flickr.com
Citadel of Aleppo. Image credit: Nitin Vyas/Flickr.com

Located in Syria, the Citadel of Aleppo is often touted as the oldest castle in the world. The earliest structures date back to 3000 BC. It has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over the millennia, most recently during the Syrian civil war. The castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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