Seven magnificent castles

Even ancient stone buildings with no inhabitants or windows have been closed due to coronavirus, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t drop by.

These amazing virtual tours beam some of the world’s most historic castles direct to your front room.

1. Windsor Castle, UK

The largest still-occupied castle anywhere in the world, this royal retreat yields its treasures via a virtual tour of the three main rooms of state – the Crimson Drawing Room, the State Banquet, and the Waterloo Chamber. Each is laid out in full magisterial dress and features a host of clickable points of interest, ranging from lavish portraits of former monarchs to the food on the table.

You can take the tour here.

2. Prague Castle, Czech Republic
This virtual visit takes guests on a walking tour not just of Prague Castle, but of the entire castle complex, including the royal garden, imperial riding school, and magnificent St. Vitus Cathedral. The Gothic-Romanesque mishmash is listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest ancient castle in the world, so there are benefits to exploring from your sofa.

You can take the tour here.

3. Palace of Versailles, France

The distinction between palaces and castles is more Venn diagram than line, and we’re letting Versailles slip through the net for its sheer historic splendour. From the world-famous Hall of Mirrors to the eye-popping opulence of the War Salon, and the bevy of priceless artworks coating the walls, this former seat of French monarchy reeks of wealth and power.

Google Arts & Culture has put together one of the most comprehensive castle tours on the internet, whizzing through enough history to fill at least a term at university, taking a deep dive into the palace’s art and architecture, and hosting exclusive lifestyle tours on the daily routines of king and queen.

You can take the tour here.

4. Sidon Sea Castle, Lebanon

So much for flying buttresses and fancy banqueting halls, Sidon Sea Castle in Lebanon is everything you want from a proper medieval fortress. Built by 13th century crusaders and connected to the shore by a bridge, the castle now lies in ruin, all crumbling battlements, dilapidated turrets and weathered rock.

Another Google Arts & Culture creation, armchair tourists can wander the ramparts at their leisure, or simply stare dreamily out to sea.

You can take the tour here.

5. Blarney Castle, Ireland

Visitors to the Blarney Castle website can take a five-stop tour around the castle interior and grounds, serving up 360-degree panoramas of the Poison Garden, the Fern Garden, and the moss-coated remnants of the Family Room.

No online portal has worked out how to let you kiss the Blarney Stone – said to grant eloquence and wit – but you couldn’t in real life regardless. The stone was closed to kissing, for the first time in 600 years, on 13 March, after it was deemed a transmission risk.

You can take the tour here.

6. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Blessed with one of the most majestic exteriors of any castle, Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria hosts an online tour of a different, more aerial variety. The AirPano project posts panoramas of anything from volcanoes to the South Pole, and showcases Neuschwanstein in all its glory through a series of 360-degree bird’s eye views featuring various angles and weather conditions.

Sparkling in the morning sun, blanketed in snowfall, surrounded by a thick layer of autumnal brown – you’d have to be very lucky to catch the castle looking as good as this in real life.

You can take the tour here.

7. Mont-Saint-Michel, France

One of the most famous fortresses in Europe, if not the world, the aquatic citadel of Mont-Saint-Michel is often inaccessible anyway because of the tide. Whether you’re stranded on land or at home, History View operates a so-called VR field trip, offering swooping camera shots from above the complex and titbits about its turbulent past.

You can take the tour here.

Have you visited any castles in real life or are they on your travel list?

~ With PA

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YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.
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