Rising more than five hundred feet around the countryside and built on a large dolomite rock, Hochosterwitz Castle dates back to medieval times. It is a major tourist attraction and one of the Austrian state’s biggest landmarks. The castle is said to have been built circa 860 A.D. by the Osterwitz dynasty.
There’s a long pathway up to the castle itself, which features fourteen fortified gates. The castle has been the same for hundreds of years. It remains in the possession of the Khevenhüller family, as requested by George Khevenhüller, the original builder. Some sections of the castle are open to the public.
Matsumoto Castle – Matsumoto, Japan
Japanese Hirajiros are five- or six-tiered castles. There are only five of them in Japan. Matsumoto is the oldest example of these beautiful and iconic structures. It was constructed at the start of the sixteenth century. Nicknamed Crow Castle due to its black color, it dates back to the Sengoku period.
Known as a flatland castle (because it wasn't built on a hill or amid rivers), the full defensive capabilities include an extensive system of inter-connecting walls, moats, and gatehouses. Maintaining its original wooden interiors and external stonework, it is listed as a National Treasure of Japan.
A Simple Samurai Home
The castle was originally slated to be torn down in the late nineteenth century, following a sale of the site. An influential figure from Matsumoto, Ichikawa Ryozo, started a campaign to save the building, and the efforts were rewarded when the city government acquired the building for preservation.
The interior of the building is simple and sparse, as befitting the home of the warrior class, the samurai. After a 5.4 magnitude earthquake in 2011, ten large cracks appeared in the inside wall of the main tower. The second floor features a museum with a collection of guns, armor, and other weapons.
The Interior Armory
What clusters and fills the halls of Hochosterwitz Castle, you might ask? Nothing less than a huge armory of weapons left by Napoleon himself. Part of this armory is an astounding set of armor that tops eight feet tall. It was worn by someone named Burghauptmann Schenk, who may or may not have been the inspiration for Gregor Clegane from "Game of Thrones".
The castle also boasts prehistoric artifacts, paintings, and detailed interior set pieces that recreate the immense history of this building. From knights praying at altars to old-world walls, there is a lot to see and take in here.
Orava Castle – Oravsky Podzamok, Slovakia
At more than seven hundred years old, the Orava Castle is an example of a castle sitting atop a prime defensive position, on a rock in a valley. The Orava Castle, named for the river it overlooks, is often considered one of the most beautiful castles in this country that has more than a few to offer.
Hugging the shape of the 520-meter spur of rock it occupies, this castle was first built in the Romanesque and Gothic styles. However, it has been updated to a Renaissance and Neo-Gothic look later on. It's possible you've seen a movie that featured this castle – the 1922 film "Nosferatu" used it as Count Orlok's Transylvanian castle.