Defence was long a priority here at the crossroads of Europe. In some countries it seems that at the top of every craggy cliff you’ll find a castle ruin. Stony fortresses typically date from between 12th and the 17th centuries. Then, as peace reigned, ruling families expanded and constructed chateaux and ornate palaces.
- Karlštejn Castle, Czech Republic A finely restored, high Gothic castle built by Emperor Charles IV in the 14th century
- Spiš Castle, Slovakia Impressive fortress ruins sprawl over more than four hilltop hectares
- Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany Mad King Ludwig’s over-the-top castle inspired Walt Disney to create Fantasyland
- Wawel Castle, Poland Kraków’s town castle contains a large cathedral and is an enduring symbol of the country
- Vienna’s palaces, Austria The Hofburg palace served as the imperial Habsburg home for six centuries, while Schönbrunn was their ornate summer residence