The 7 coolest castles in Europe

Looking for a fairytale getaway? Hoping to stage your own Game of Thrones re-enactment? Or just wanting to live out your Downton Abbey fantasy? Either way, there’s nowhere more splendid to make your dream a reality than in an ancient castle. Here’s our pick of the best

1. Palace of Pena, Portugal [Picured above] Now a national monument in Portugal, the Palace of Pena started its life in the Middle Ages as a tiny chapel on a hill outside Lisbon, and later, a monastery. Ruined by an earthquake in 1755, it was fully restored by King Ferdinand in 1842 as a Romantic-style summer palace, complete with drawbridges and Moorish arches. Go, and gawp. 2. Carreg Cennen, Wales Built atop a limestone precipice in Brecon Beacons National Park in 1197, Carreg Cennen has its roots dating back to prehistoric times. It’s possible the site was used as an Iron Age hillfort, Roman coins have been found there, and it was used as a stronghold during the War of the Roses in 1461. The sheer cliff faces on all sides have made Carreg Cennen pretty much impenetrable to invaders. We dare say it would also have made a perfect spot for Guns ‘N Roses’ November Rain video. 3. Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland The classic mossy, moody castle, Scotland’s Eilean Donan was founded in the 13th century on a tiny tidal island where three lochs meet, and it’s said that Robert the Bruce sought shelter here in 1306. After a series of Jacobite Risings in the 18th century, the castle was left dilapidated until restoration began in 1917. Since then, Eilean Donan has had starring appearances in movies such as The World is Not Enough and Highlander. There can be only one!