Even though it might sound easy, finding the largest castles in the world isn’t a very straightforward task. This is mainly because of the broad definition of the word castle that describes castles as medieval strongholds that serve as a residence of the king or lord of the territory in which it stands. Hence, we can’t really include the Kremlin on this list but we can arguably include some large medieval fortresses in Japan and India that might not look very similar to the castles of Europe but fit the above-mentioned criteria.
Moreover, additional issues might appear when discussing the size of a castle. For example, according to the Guinness Book of Records, the largest castle in the world is Prague Castle. And yes, the castle complex might be the world’s largest, however, there are castles whose main building is larger than Prague Castle’s main building (as you’ll see in this list) but the total area of the whole complex is smaller. Having all this in mind, we have made some calculations of all the castles’ properties and came up with this list of the largest castles in the world.
Burghausen Castle, Burghausen, Germany (The World’s Longest Castle)
Burghausen Castle might be significantly smaller than most other castles on this list but we feel it deserves an honorable mention because it’s the longest castle in the world. The complex is slightly longer than 1 kilometer (1,050 meters)! It was built in 1025 but throughout the years, the complex was expanded several times, getting its final from the late 1880s.
Palácio da Pena, Sintra, Portugal (85 Acres)
Even though its name has the word ‘Palacio’ (Eng. Palace) in it, most relevant sources refer to Palacio da Pena as a medieval castle which is why we chose to include it in this list. The castle complex itself isn’t as big as some other castles on the list but the total property of the castle stretches across 85 acres (two times the size of the Vatican).
Most of the property consists of Pena Park; an important part of the castle complex. Inside, you’ll also find a beautiful mix of eclectic architecture that combines Gothic, Moorish, and Manueline styles. After all, there’s a good reason why Pena Palace is a UNESCO Heritage Site and one of Portugal’s Seven Wonders.
Alcázar of Segovia, Segovia, Spain (331 Acres)
If you have read some of our previous posts, you know that we featured this castle in our list of fairytale places because of its uncanny resemblance to the castle from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and this grandiose castle is surely worth a visit for anyone traveling to the town of Segovia. The castle was built by the Almoravid (Berber) dynasty in the early 12th century as a fortress. However, throughout the years, the castle was a royal palace and even a military academy.
The total area of the complex covers a whopping 331 acres. Here, you can see a myriad of architectural gems, including the virtue of the complex’ shape that resembles the bow of a ship. This makes Alcazar of Segovia one of the most distinguished castle-palaces in Spain and Europe.
Château de Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France
The castle of Chambord was originally a hunting lodge for Francois I in the 1510s. However, throughout the years, this castle became one of the most grandiose castles in Lore Valley. The castle is relatively big; it has 77 staircases and 426 rooms but its size is nothing compared to the biggest castles in the world. The reason why this castle is on our list is the garden that surrounds the castle.
Formally, this garden (or perhaps it’s more appropriate to call it forest) is a part of the castle’s property; let’s not forget this was initially a hunting lodge. The size of the garden or forest that surrounds the castle is 5,400 hectares. To put that into perspective, this garden alone is larger than Bordeaux (4,900 hectares) and Lyon (4,800 hectares) and is half the size of Paris (10,500 hectares).
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland (35,737 Square Meters)
Located on an extinct volcanic crag, the castle of Edinburgh is the most noticeable thing in the skyline of Edinburgh. The total size of the complex is “only 35,737” square meters which might seem tiny compared to some of the above-mentioned complexes, but have in mind that most of these 35,737 square meters consist of actual buildings and not parks/forests. To make things even more fascinating, most of the buildings at the complex, pre-date the 16th century. The oldest building of the complex (also the oldest building in Edinburgh), St. Margaret’s Chapel even dates back to the early 12th century.
So, just like no trip to Scotland is complete without visiting Edinburgh castle, a list of the largest castles in the world couldn’t be complete without it either.
Citadel of Aleppo, Aleppo, Syria (39,804 Square Meters)
Aleppo is one of the oldest cities in the world and the citadel protecting the city is one of the world’s oldest castles. The citadel sits atop a 50-meters-high hill in the heart of Aleppo and the majority of the castle’s construction dates back to the 13th century. The city of Aleppo is a fortified acropolis since Alexander the Great’s era but the current appearance of the castle is credited to the Ayyubid period.
That’s when the castle began to grow and when most major repairs and restorations took place. This is the time when a palace was added to the castle complex. The palace was burned during Sultan Ghazi’s wedding night but was later rebuilt and today proudly stands as the most impressive monument of the citadel today.
Himeji Castle, Himeji, Japan (41,468 Square Meters)
Himeji Castle is arguably Japan’s most beautiful castle and one of the rare medieval buildings that escaped the havoc of wars and natural disasters. The fort around the castle was built in the 14th century and it expanded throughout the years. The grandiose castle complex we know today got its final form in the early 1600s.
The complex consists of 83 buildings and covers an area of 265 acres (including the gardens surrounding the castle). Himeji Castle is not only one of the largest castles in the world but also Japan’s best-preserved samurai fortification. Hence, it’s no surprise that the castle is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as the finest surviving example of Japanese castle architecture.
Buda Castle, Budapest, Hungary (44,674 Square Meters)
Sitting atop the southern tip of Budapest’s Castle Hill, Buda Castle is one of the most famous and largest castles in the world. It was built in the 13th century after the Mongol attacks and throughout the years, it was expanded to retain the medieval Ottoman invasions. Today, the castle is one of the finest samples of Baroque-Gothic architecture and one of Europe’s most popular tourist attractions.
Spis Castle, Zehra, Slovakia (49,485 Square Meters)
Spis Castle is another large castle in Central Europe that became one of the world’s largest during the Ottoman invasions of the 15th and 16th centuries. The main body of the castle was fortified in the 12th century as an administrative center of Szepes County of the Kingdom of Hungary. Originally, this was a Romanesque stone castle with fortifications but in the 15th century, it went under complete reconstruction that changed the castle’s appearance. Spis Castle was abandoned in the late-18th century, but today, it regained its popularity as Slovakia’s most popular tourist attraction.
Hohensalzburg Castle, Salzburg, Austria (54,523 Square Meters)
Dating back to 1077, Hohensalzburg Castle is one of the oldest castles in Europe. It’s 250 meters long and 150 meters wide, making it one of the largest castles in the whole world. Interestingly, the original design was a basic bailey with a wooden wall. The first and biggest expansion of the fortress took place in the late 11th century during Helfenstein’s conflict with Emperor Henry IV during the Investiture Controversy.
Throughout the years, the castle’s size kept increasing; the castle got its ring walls and towers in 1462, and in 1515 the construction of the Reisszug (an early and primitive funicular railway) was complete. Due to the fears of a Turkish invasion, additional external bastions were built in the 17th century, giving the castle its current appearance.
Windsor Castle, Windsor, United Kingdom (54,835 Square Meters)
This list of the largest castles in the world couldn’t be complete without Windsor Castle; the largest inhabited castle in the world. The castle is one of the official residences of the Queen who spends a lot of her weekends there. The castle dates back to the 11th century following the Norman invasion of England led by William the Conqueror. Like many other castles on this list, Windsor Castle was expanded throughout the years and today, it occupies 13 acres and features of a fortification, a palace, and a small town.
Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic (66,761 Square Meters)
As we mentioned in the beginning, according to the Guinness Book of Records, this is the world’s largest castle. Spanning over 66,761 square meters, Prague castle features a myriad of exciting sights, including the beautiful St. Vitus Cathedral and the charming St. George’s Basilica. Today, with nearly 2 million visitors per year, Prague Castle is one of the most visited sites in Europe.
Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, India (81,227 Square Meters)
Even though it can be argued that Mehrangarh is more a fort than it is a castle, the complex within the fortress’ walls that spans across more than 80,000 square meters, certainly deserves a special mention on this list of the largest castles in the world. The castle (or fort) sits atop of a hill in the heart of Rajasthan overlooking the city of Jodhpur. Its walls are 36 meters high and 21 meters wide, making Mehrangarh the largest fortification on the Indian subcontinent.
The fort was founded by Rao Jodha in 1459 when it became the new capital of Mandore (today’s Rajasthan). However, most of what remains of the fort today dates back to the 17th century. Today, the complex is so large that it encompasses five different palaces (among other buildings); Sheesha Mahal (Mirror Palace) Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Daulat Khana, and Sileh Khana.
Cite de Carcassone, Carcassone, France (109,265 Square Meters)
If you’re looking for some beautiful towns off the beaten track in France, you should definitely consider visiting Carcassone. The town existed for more than 2,000 years as a Gaulish settlement but the citadel of Carcassone dates back to the 3rd century when the Romans transformed it into a fortified town. The castle was under siege numerous times throughout the years most notably by Romans, Visigoths, and Crusaders but managed to keep its original structure throughout the years.
Today, the complex features 52 massive towers, the mesmerizing Basilica of St. Nazarius famous for its beautiful Gothic architecture, and a double ring of ramparts. In addition to this Cite de Carcassone is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.
Malbork Castle, Malbork, Poland (143,591 Square Meters)
Finally, to round up this list of the largest castles in the world, we have Malbork Castle in Poland. The Teutonic Knights (a German Catholic religious order) built the castle in 1274 to serve as headquarters for their campaigns against Poland. Some two hundred years later, the castle was sold by the Bohemian mercenaries to King Casimir IV of Poland, and ever since it served as a royal Polish residence until the First Partition of Poland in 1772.
In 1772, Malbork was occupied by Germany but after 1945, it became a part of Poland once again. In 1994, Malbork Castle became an official National Historic Monument of Poland. Shortly after, the castle was also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Did you like this list of the largest castles in the world? Did you ever visit any of these castles? Which one was your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
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