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2. Bran Castle, Romania

This famous fortress in Transylvania is renowned for its supposed former owner, lending it the nickname ‘Dracula’s Castle’.
Connections between the vampire of Bram Stoker’s story and Romanian ruler Vlad The Impaler appear to be mostly founded in the cool-sounding name (Dracula means son of Dracul, Vlad’s dad was known as Vlad II Dracul), as opposed to any blood drinking or bat action, however. Bummer.

3. Pena Palace, Portugal

Probably Europe’s most colourful castle, this Romantacist palace sits atop a hill above the town of Sintra. Painted a jovial yellow and red, it was completed in 1854 after 12 years of construction. It’s now a national monument after being bought up by the Portuguese state; the last queen of Portugal, Amelia, spent her final night here before being exiled in 1910.

4. Crac des Chevaliers, Syria

Though we wouldn’t recommend a holiday to Syria any day soon, the country is home to what Lawrence of Arabia hailed as “perhaps the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world”. Indeed, this Crusader castle is one of the best-kept medieval fortresses on Earth. First settled by Kurds in the 11th century, it was later handed to the Knights Hospitaller, a military order charged with the defence of the Holy Land. It sits at the crest of a 650ft hill.

5. Predjama Castle, Slovenia

Props go to Predjama Castle for being built in a cave mouth. How’d they manage that? The Gothic-style fortifications were built under a natural rocky arch, situated 100m up a cliff face to make attacks that bit more difficult. Nowadays, you can explore the cave below the castle and even Ezram’s Passage, a 37m-long secret shaft that allowed supplies to come through in times of siege. To access it, you’ll need decent climbing skills and equipment.

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Top Five Travel: See the coolest castles in the world
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