• Get a taste of royalty by exploring some of the world's best castles

    2013-05-07

    You don't need to be an architecture buff to appreciate how impressive some of the world's most famous castles are. Whether in Europe, Asia, North America or anywhere in between, these stunning buildings have become timeless tourist draws -there are few structures on Earth quite like them. Although nearly all castles have their own unique appeal, there are several in particular that are especially striking, according to U.S. News and World Report.

    Matsumoto Castle
    Japan has some of the most storied historical sites in the world, and Matsumoto Castle is no exception. The building was constructed in 1504 and originally used as a fortress to defend against enemy attacks - though none ever came. As such, it is particularly well preserved and its unusual tiered appearance certainly makes it among the most unique castles in the world. You make your way into the castle, you'll be treated to some picturesque views of the landscape of central Japan.

    The Alhambra
    Located in Granada, the Alhambra has been a staple of the Spanish city for well over 1,000 years. Much like the Matsumoto Castle, the Alhambra started as a fortress but eventually became a royal residence, and today it features a large collection of beautiful artwork, including an intricately carved ceiling. Among its most striking highlights are the The Court of the Lions and the stunning Hall of the Abencerrages.

    Hearst Castle
    Not all castles have to date back centuries, and Hearst Castle is one of the best examples of that. Built near San Simeon, Calif., for media magnate William Randolph Hearst, this sprawling residence was complete in 1947 - just four years before Hearst passed away in 1951. Since 1957, the castle and its land has operated as a historic state park. You could easily spend all day exploring the castle's many ornately decorated rooms. There are seemingly countless highlights of the building, but some of the best include the refectory, billiard room and Neptune pool - all of which are featured on the castle's popular Grand Rooms Tour. You should also make a point to walk through the castle's beautiful landscape, which offers spectacular views of the California countryside.

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