Not everyone agrees on what a castle is, and it can be hard to decide how big something is. We list every building and part of the castle grounds in each complex. We have castles from eastern and western Europe, the Middle East, and Japan. Read on to learn about twelve of the world’s biggest castles and what makes each special.
Balmoral Castle in Scotland
Even though the building itself isn’t very big, Balmoral’s grounds are much bigger than any other castle complex. The Farquason family used to own a castle on the grounds, but the British royal family bought it in the 1800s and had Balmoral built on the land.
William Smith and Prince Albert worked together to make the castle. It is a working estate with a forest, farmland, and herds of deer, cattle, and ponies that must be cared for. At certain times of the year, the ballroom and the castle gardens are open to the public.
Himeji Castle in Japan
The complex of Himeji Castle was built in the 14th century and has been changed many times since then. It is on top of a hill in the Hyogo Prefecture, and experts say it is a great example of how a Japanese castle should be built.
During World War II, there were many bombs dropped on it, and in 1995, there was the Great Hanshin earthquake. The Japanese sometimes call it “White Egret Castle” (Hakuro-j) or “White Heron Castle” (Shirasagi-j). Himeji is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so people can visit it when it’s open.
Malbork Castle in Poland
Malbork Castle is near Malbork, Poland. It is also called the “Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork.” It is a Teutonic castle, which means that the religious and military order of Teutonic Knights built it. It was constructed in the 13th century and has been added several times to make room for more knights.
The outer walls of the castle complex now cover 52 acres, which makes it the largest castle in the world in terms of land area. Malbork Castle is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and it sometimes has fun events for people to enjoy.
Prague Castle in the Czech Republic
The oldest castle on our list of the largest castles in the world is Prague Castle, built in the 9th century. The Guinness Book of World Records says it is the world’s largest old castle. The castle complex only had a few buildings when it was first built. Over time, more buildings were added to house people and strengthen the castle.
Even though it is very old, Prague Castle is still where the President of the Czech Republic works and where the Bohemian Crown Jewels are kept safe. Walking around the complex, you’ll see different kinds of buildings, like Gothic and Romanesque, and some impressive art collections. It’s not surprising that almost 2 million people visit this interesting site every year.
Mannheim Palace in Germany
People sometimes call Mannheim a palace and sometimes a castle. The current building was built in the 18th century. It replaced a fortress called Friedrichsburg and was the home of Charles III Philip, Elector Palatine.
During World War II, bombs came close to destroying Mannheim Palace, but the government and private donors paid for many repairs. It is one of the most important examples of a Baroque palace and is the main building complex of the University of Mannheim. Audio Guides can help people see Mannheim.
Windsor Castle in England
Windsor Castle is different from most of the world’s biggest castles because it is still used as a royal home. Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite place to spend the weekend was there. It is the world’s biggest and oldest inhabited castle. It is also Europe’s longest-inhabited palace.
The first Windsor Castle was built in the 11th century, after William the Conqueror took the throne of England from the English. Since then, 39 monarchs have made it their home. You can consult Windsor Castle any time of the year except on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when it is closed.
Hohensalzburg Fortress in Austria
Hohensalzburg is the largest medieval castle in Europe. It is on top of a hill in Salzburg, Austria, called the Festungsberg, which is 506 meters high. The castle was constructed in the 11th century and was added several times. The towers were built in the 15th century, and other parts were finished as late as the 17th century.
In the 1800s, it was a popular place for tourists to visit. During World War I, it was used as a prison for a short time. People can visit this beautiful castle all year long. You could even bring your dog to the outside parts of the fortress.
Spis Castle in Slovakia
Spi Castle is among the largest sites in Central Europe, even though it is in ruins. It was the center of government and business for Szepes County in the Kingdom of Hungary. Then, it was owned by two well-known families before Czechoslovakia bought it. Slovakia now owns it. Spi Castle was first built in the 12th century. In the 18th century, a fire burned it down. It was later rebuilt, and archaeological research was done at the site.
Buda Castle in Hungary
Buda Castle has sometimes been called the “Royal Palace” or “Royal Castle” because it was the home of the Hungarian kings in Budapest. It was first built in the 13th century, and in the 18th century, it was rebuilt. During World War II, bombs again destroyed it, and it was rebuilt in a Stalin Baroque style, but it still has parts that were built as early as the 14th century.
There are wine cellars and large caves in the castle, which used to be home to tigers and Hungarian mountain bears. Today, Buda Castle is on Castle Hill and is in an area that is very popular with tourists. It’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Citadel of Aleppo in Syria
This palace in Aleppo is a fortified building that is thought to be the largest castle in the world. People in the area used the hill it is on as early as the 3rd century. Experts think that most citadels still stand today and were built in the 12th and 13th centuries.
The citadel is a component of ancient Aleppo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Ancient city is a historic city center of almost 2 square miles. In the 2010s, fighting caused much damage to the citadel, but it is now being fixed and accessible to everyone.