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Which Are the 10 Oldest Castles in the World?

Castles, as imposing representations of strength, protection, and exquisite architecture, have always captured the attention of people. The oldest castles in the world are among these strongholds and provide exceptional windows into bygone eras of human development. Every castle, from the magnificent Windsor Castle in England to the fabled Aleppo Citadel in Syria, has complex patterns of invention, culture, and history. 

List of the Top 10 Oldest Castles in the World

  1. Windsor Castle (England) 
  2. Warwick Castle (England) 
  3. Hohenwerfen Castle (Austria) 
  4. Malbork Castle (Poland) 
  5. Tower of London (England) 
  6. Edinburgh Castle (Scotland) 
  7. Conwy Castle (Wales) 
  8. Château de Châteauneuf-du-Pape (France) 
  9. Bamburgh Castle (England) 
  10. Prague Castle (Czech Republic) 

1. Windsor Castle 

Windsor Castle is one of the most famous and important castles in the world, and it is situated in Berkshire, England. Having been continually occupied for almost a thousand years, it is a monument to the lasting influence of British royalty. Windsor Castle was first intended to be a tactical fortress to establish Norman authority over the surrounding area. It was constructed by William the Conqueror in the eleventh century. It had a strong defensive advantage due to its location atop a high ridge overlooking the River Thames.

Windsor Castle has seen significant alterations and additions over the ages, catering to the whims and requirements of several kings. During the 14th century, King Edward III’s reign was one of the most important times for growth, as he turned the castle into a representation of regal authority and chivalric values. Afterwards, Windsor Castle had baroque renovations that added an air of extravagance and wealth in the 17th century, under the reign of King Charles II.

Windsor Castle is still in use as a functional royal palace and a well-known location for royal festivities and state occasions. Queen Elizabeth II liked to spend her weekends there, demonstrating its enduring utility and significance. The stunning St. George’s Chapel, a prime example of Gothic architecture and the location of several royal marriages and rituals, is part of the castle complex.

Millions of tourists visit Windsor Castle every year, turning it into a living museum of British history and culture thanks to its vast gardens, state apartments that date back centuries, and impressive art collections. Windsor Castle’s rich history, magnificent architecture, and continuous royal ties guarantee that it will always be cherished as a monument and a representation of the British monarchy’s eternal legacy.

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2. Warwick Castle 

A classic example of a medieval fortification, Warwick Castle is located in Warwickshire, England, and combines architectural majesty, rich history, and cultural relevance. Warwick Castle, which William the Conqueror first constructed in 1068, was well situated on the banks of the River Avon to serve as a symbol of Norman dominance and a defensive bastion.

The early wooden motte-and-bailey castle was progressively rebuilt in the 12th century with stone defenses, which improved the fortress’s defensive qualities. One of England’s most fearsome medieval castles, Warwick Castle gained its notoriety via the building of powerful towers, walls, and a great gatehouse.

Warwick Castle was an important part of English history over the ages. During the Wars of the Roses in the fifteenth century, it was a crucial fortress that saw several sieges and conflicts. The powerful Earls of Warwick, who were key players in the political and military affairs of the nation, also called the castle home.

When the Greville family owned the castle in the seventeenth century—before they were made the Earls of Warwick—it underwent extensive renovations and changes. By adding opulent interiors and vast, beautifully designed grounds, they turned the medieval stronghold into a majestic residence that amplified its allure and magnificence.

3. Hohenwerfen Castle 

Located on a steep cliff in the Salzach Valley close to Salzburg, Austria, Hohenwerfen Castle is a remarkable illustration of medieval defensive construction. During the investiture controversy, Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg constructed the fortress between 1075 and 1078 with the dual purpose of fortification and strategic protection against possible invasion.

With a magnificent perspective of the surrounding valley and an elevation position of 623 meters above sea level, the castle served as an excellent observation and defensive station. Hohenwerfen Castle was strengthened and enlarged over the years to improve its defensive qualities. It now has strong towers, a deep moat, and thick stone walls.

Throughout its long history, Hohenwerfen Castle has been involved in a number of military engagements, from small-scale neighborhood skirmishes to more extensive regional warfare. Its historical significance was enhanced by its use as a provincial prison housing prominent inmates and a home for archbishops.

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4. Malbork Castle 

The biggest brick castle in the world, Malbork Castle, is situated in northern Poland and is a stunning example of medieval fortress design. The fortress was built in 1274 by a German Catholic monastic order of crusaders known as the Teutonic Knights. Initially called Marienburg after the Virgin Mary, it functioned as the headquarters of the order and a representation of their authority in the military and politics of the area.

The 52-acre castle complex is divided into three main areas: the Middle Castle, the Lower Castle, and the High Castle. The monastic quarters and the Grand Master’s house are located in the High Castle, which was built to fulfill distinct defensive and administrative purposes. Being one of the most powerful fortifications of its era, the castle’s defenses consisted of high brick walls, towers, and an intricate network of moats and drawbridges.

Malbork Castle was the epicenter of many confrontations throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, especially during the Polish-Teutonic Wars. After being taken over by Polish armies in 1457, it was used as the royal home of Polish monarchs. The castle underwent several renovations over the years, reflecting the shifting requirements and preferences of its residents.

Malbork Castle is included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its remarkable architectural design and historical value. Presently, it functions as a significant tourist destination and museum, presenting medieval relics, Teutonic Knights exhibits, and local history. The expansive gardens, opulent rooms, and exquisite features of the Gothic architecture of the castle are open for exploration by guests.

5. Tower of London 

One of England’s most recognizable sights is the medieval fortification known as the Tower of London, which is situated in the city’s center on the north bank of the River Thames. The Tower, which was established in 1066 by William the Conqueror, has served as a royal residence, a jail, a treasury, and a representation of regal authority and power throughout English history.

The White Tower, the complex’s primary keep, is the oldest portion of the castle, having been built in the early 1080s. Its primary purpose was to defend the ruling class and establish Norman supremacy over the recently captured city. The defensive walls, towers, and buildings that formerly made up the Tower of London have since been added, creating the 12-acre “Tower of London” complex.

The Tower has performed a variety of tasks during its existence. Monarchs lived there as a royal home, particularly in tumultuous periods when its strong fortifications were essential. It was home to some of the most well-known prisoners in history, such as Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, and Guy Fawkes. “Sent to the Tower” evolved to mean being imprisoned and frequently executed.

The Crown Jewels, an assemblage of jewels and ceremonial regalia still used in royal events, are housed at the Tower of London. Millions of tourists go to the Jewel House every year to see the riches on exhibit, which serves as a testament to the British monarchy’s lasting influence.

6. Edinburgh Castle 

Edinburgh Castle, one of the most famous and important castles in the world, is located atop Castle Rock in the center of Scotland’s city. Perched atop an ancient volcanic rock, its strategic location has made it a vital military stronghold for ages, dominating Edinburgh’s skyline and providing spectacular views of the surroundings.

Edinburgh Castle has a long history dating back to the Iron Age. Archaeological findings indicate that people may have lived on the site as early as the second century AD. King Malcolm III is thought to have built the first royal fortress atop the rock in the eleventh century. The castle has played a major role in many historical occurrences over the ages, including sieges, wars, and royal festivities.

The late 13th and early 14th century Wars of Scottish Independence were one of the most significant historical eras for the castle. The Scots and the English exchanged ownership of the castle many times. An important turning point in the conflicts occurred in 1314, when Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, led the Scots in a valiant nighttime attack and successfully retook the fortress.

The castle’s design, which combines buildings from several eras, is a tribute to its lengthy and varied past. Important structures include the Great Hall, finished in 1511 for James IV; the St. Margaret’s Chapel, which dates back to the 12th century and is the oldest structure still standing in Edinburgh; and the Scottish National War Memorial, which was founded during World War I.

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7. Conwy Castle 

Conwy Castle is a stunning medieval construction known for its remarkable architectural and historical significance. It is situated in the North Wales town of Conwy. During his conquest of Wales, Edward I erected the castle between 1283 and 1289. It was part of a broader fortification design that also included the walled town of Conwy. Master James of St. George, a well-known architect and military engineer at the time, created the design.

The castle was a powerful defensive bastion with a commanding view of the Conwy River and the surrounding area because of its advantageous placement atop a coastal hill. Conwy Castle was built with a symmetrical layout that included eight enormous towers and tall curtain walls—both of which were groundbreaking features at the time. The castle has a distinctive and sturdy aspect since the walls and towers are constructed of local sandstone and limestone.

Conwy Castle was an important military facility and a representation of English might during Edward I’s operations in Wales. It was intended to give the recently captured areas a sense of power and control. Luxurious royal rooms are another feature of the castle’s architecture that highlights its dual function as a fort and a royal home.

Conwy Castle was held by royalist forces during the 17th-century English Civil War until Parliamentary forces besieged and took control of it. After then, the castle was partially destroyed by slights in order to stop it from being used for military purposes. In spite of this, Conwy Castle’s walls and towers are still mostly intact, making it extraordinarily well preserved.

8. Château de Châteauneuf-du-Pape 

The ancient Château de Châteauneuf-du-Pape is located in the center of the well-known wine-producing area of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in southern France. Its illustrious history dates back to the fourteenth century. When the popes of Avignon ruled in the adjacent Papal States, they used the fortress, which was constructed by Pope John XXII, as their summer retreat.

The Château de Châteauneuf-du-Pape provides expansive views of the surrounding area from its hilltop location overlooking the Rhône Valley and the charming vineyards. With its massive stone walls, fortified towers, and central keep, the castle’s design is a fitting tribute to its ancient past. The fortress has seen several fights and sieges throughout its history, including engagements in the Wars of Religion and the Hundred Years’ War. Even though it was damaged during these turbulent times, the Château de Châteauneuf-du-Pape has been painstakingly rebuilt and maintained over the ages.

At present, the castle is a well-liked tourist site for both history buffs and wine fans, serving as a symbol of the area’s rich cultural legacy. The inside of the castle is open to visitors and features displays on the castle’s medieval past in addition to a museum highlighting the history of winemaking in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

9. Bamburgh Castle 

Steeped in history and mythology, Bamburgh Castle is a magnificent castle located atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the Northumbrian shoreline in England. With a history spanning more than 1,400 years, the castle has been a significant part of the turbulent past of the area, acting as a fortress for several kings and taking in centuries of war and conquest.

Bamburgh Castle was initially constructed in the sixth century by the Anglo-Saxons and later served as a major seat of authority for the Northumbrian rulers of the Middle Ages. Before the Normans restored and strengthened it in the eleventh century, it was the target of many raids and sieges during the Viking invasions in the ninth century. 

Bamburgh Castle was a vital stronghold during the Middle Ages, defending England’s northeastern boundary from Scottish incursions. It gained the reputation of being among the most impenetrable castles in the realm thanks to its strong fortifications, which included thick walls and tall battlements.

Bamburgh Castle’s significance extends beyond its military use; it has also been linked to myth and folklore, most notably the stories of King Arthur and his knight, Sir Lancelot. For ages, poets, authors, and painters have drawn inspiration from the stunning surroundings and rich history of the castle.

10. Prague Castle 

Prague Castle is one of the biggest old castles in the world and a representation of Czech history, culture, and architectural beauty. It is magnificently placed atop a hill overlooking the Vltava River in Prague, Czech Republic. Prague Castle is one of the oldest continually inhabited strongholds in Europe, having been built as early as the ninth century. 

Initially constructed as a timber stronghold by Prince Bośivoj of the Premyslid dynasty, Prague Castle had several extensions and refurbishments throughout the ages, mirroring the evolving preferences and requirements of its residents. It was converted into a magnificent Gothic palace and used as the residence of the Holy Roman Emperor during the reign of Charles IV in the fourteenth century, marking its apex.

The castle complex is a showcase for the growth of European architecture, encompassing a wide range of architectural styles such as Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Romanesque. The majestic St. Vitus Cathedral, the refined Royal Palace, the quaint Golden Lane, and the scenic Vladislav Hall are among the area’s highlights.

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These historic buildings, dispersed over several continents, are more than simply old castles—they are living, breathing tales of architectural wonders, victories, and royal legacies. The distinct histories of each castle add to our knowledge of the past and the development of human resourcefulness and fortitude. Whether they are in romantic ruins or are still magnificently standing, these fortifications never cease to amaze and astound those who see them.


Which European Castle is the Oldest and Still Standing?

There aren’t many castles that can be positively dated to the middle of the ninth century. The oldest standing castle in Europe is Château de Doué-la-Fontaine in France, which was turned into a donjon in about 950.

When Was the First Castle Constructed?

The era of English castles began with the Norman conquest at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

Where is the World’s Largest Ancient Castle?

The world’s largest ancient castle is Prague Castle.

Which Royal Castle is the Oldest in the World?

The current configuration of Windsor Castle is the outcome of nearly a millennium of evolution. With 39 kings having lived there and each leaving their imprint, it is the oldest and biggest inhabited castle in the world.

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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