1. Leeds Castle - Kent, England
This stunning castle was built on the site of a 9th century manor house in 1119. It became an official royal palace in 1278 when Kind Edward I of England decided to call it home. It was passed down through the royal line, and miraculously escaped destruction during the English Civil War and World War I.
Purchased by Lady Baillie, an American heiress in 1926, the castle was used as a hospital to treat injured airmen during World War II. When Lady Baillie passed away, she left the castle to the public to enjoy. It's about 42 miles SE of London.
2. Alcazar of Segovia - Segovia, Spain
The Alcazar of Segovia may look ancient, but the structure you can see today was actually built in 1882 after the 800 year-old castle was destroyed by a fire. The original castle had been home to a string of royals, all of whom added their own flourishes and additions to the palace - including European and Moorish elements.
Alcazar of Segovia
3. Warwick Castle - Warwickshire, England
Constructed in 1068 by William the Conqueror, the Warwick Castle was placed on a bend in the River Avon on top of a sandstone bluff. It was originally constructed in wood and was renovated into a stone castle in the 12th century. In the 17th century the beautiful grounds were turned into a garden and the impressive castle was even able to withstand a siege during the English Civil War.
Today the castle is owned by The Tussauds Group. (Yep, the same Tussuads.) It is open to the public as a tourist attraction and was also named one of Britain's "Top 10 Historic Houses and Monuments." The Tussauds Group holds archery contests and fairs on the castle grounds throughout the year. Warwickshire is 94 miles NW of London.
4. Eilean Castle - Donan, Scotland
Located on a small island in the western Highlands of Scotland. Eilean Donan castle was built in the 13th century, and was sadly almost completed destroyed in the 18th century. Although not much remained of the once-grand castle, Lt. Col. John MacRae-Gilstrap restored the entire building between 1919 and 1932, paying tribute to the original design.
Today, you can explore every part of the castle on a day trip to Donan, about 193 miles NW of Edinburgh.
5. Chateau D'Usse - Amboise, France
Dating from the 15th century, this gorgeous white castle is said to have been the inspiration for Charles Perrault's famous tale, La Belle au Bois Dormant - Sleeping Beauty for those of us who read in English. It is also rumored that Walt Disney designed his parks after the incredible gardens at Chateau D'Usse, created by the same architect that designed Versailles. Amboise, France is about 140 miles SW of Paris.