italian castles

Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526/1527-1593)
“The Librarian” (1566)
Oil on canvas
Located in the Skokloster Castle, Håbo Municipality, Sweden.

Arcimboldo is best known for creating imaginative portrait heads made entirely of objects including fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and books. At a distance, his portraits looked like normal human portraits. However, individual objects in each portrait were actually overlapped together to make various anatomical shapes of a human. They were carefully constructed by his imagination. The assembled objects in each portrait were not random: each was related by characterization. For example, in “The Librarian” the curtain was used to create individual study rooms in a library, and the animal tails, which became the beard of the portrait, were used as dusters.

The painting is thought to be a portrait of Wolfgang Lazius, a humanist and historian who served the Holy Roman Emperors of the House of Habsburg.


Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, Northern England. Features in many films and TV series, including Elizabeth (1998), Harry Potter (2001/2) and Downton Abbey (2014/15).

Castel del Monte, Andria, Apulia, Italy

Castel del Monte was built by Emperor Fredrick II in the 1240s on lands he inherited from his mother, Constance of Sicily. The castle’s construction is mentioned in only one contemporary source, a document dating to 1240, in which the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II ordered the governor of Capitanata to finish some works in it however, it was never finished. It was later turned into a prison, used as a refuge during a plague, and finally fell into disrepair. It originally had marble walls and columns, but they were stripped by vandals or re-used in construction nearby.

After having been abandoned for a considerable length of time, the castle was purchased in 1876 for the sum of 25,000 lire by the Italian State, which began the process of restoration in 1928. Castel del Monte is depicted on the reverse of the Italian-issue 1 Euro cent coin.


4,000 Houses for 4,000 Followers: No 29:

Villa Barbaro (Villa di Maser), Veneto, Italy. 

Built by Andrea Palladio circa 1560. 

With frescoes by Paolo Veronese. 


1. Chateau de Chenonceau

This château is nicknamed the “Château des Dames” because King Henry II gave this castle to his mistress Diane de Poitiers. She commissioned the gorgeous bridge that many people find as the most beautiful thing about the castle.   

2. Chateau de Chambord

Built as a hunting lodge for François I, Château de Chambord is one of the finest examples of the Renaissance architecture in France. Took over 30 years to build during the 16th century, it’s one of the most extravagant châteaux with elaborate rooftop of 800 sculpted columns and over 440 rooms and 85 staircases, making it the largest château in the Loire Valley.

3. Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau

Built in the reign of King Francois I (where architecture and arts truly flourished during this Renaissance period), Chateau Azay-le-Rideau is a small and charmingly romantic castle with Italian style architecture. It is hard to believe that it was a defensive fortress in times past because of its beauty.

4. Chateau de Chaumont

The Chateau was built in the years between 1465 and 1510 by Charles I and Charles II d’Amboise. The Château de Chaumont was purchased by Catherine de Medici a year after Henry II’s death. There she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus.

5. Chateau de Chantilly

The Chateau was originally built in around 1528 for the Constable Anne de Montmorency. This beautiful chateau is made up of two attached sections: the Grand Chateau and the Petit Chateau, but the Grand Chateau was destroyed during the French Revolution. It was later rebuilt. 

6. Chateau de Pierrefonds

Originally built in the 12th century but rebuilt in the 14th century for Louis, Duke of Orléans. Napoléon Bonaparte visited it in 1850 and asked the father of modern restorations, Viollet-le-Duc to restore it to the point of even surpassing its previous grandeur.

7. Chateau d’Usse

The Chateau d’Ussé is where Charles Perrault the author of Sleeping Beauty (La Belle au Bois Dormant) was inspired to use this castle as Sleeping Beauty’s castle and later on in Disney. 

8. Chateau de Villandry

For those who have a passion for gardens, then Chateau de Villandry has the most spectacular gardens! Completed in 1536, the chateau was built in a Renaissance style by Jean le Breton, one of François I’s Finance Ministers.

9. Chateau de Blois

Built between the 13th and 17th century,  the chateau was the location where the Archbishop of Reims blessed Joan of Arc before her march on Orleans in 1429 and has also served as the residence of many French kings.

10. Chateau de Cheverny

Chateau de Cheverny was built the chateau between 1624 and 1630 by Philippe Hurault. Renowned for its exquisite interior which was renovated in 1768, the chateau holds a large collection of tapestries, furniture and artwork. 

11. Chateau de Amboise

Dating back to the 11th century, this was taken by the French King Charles VII in the mid-15th century and became a royal palace. François I based his court here. Leonardo da Vinci came to the chateau and it became both his workplace and his home. 

12. Chateau de Chinon

This massive chateau was built in the 12th century. It is known as the castle where Joan of Arc proclaimed that she heard heavenly voices and where she went to meet with the Charles VII, Dauphin of France who resided here from 1427 to 1450.

13. Chateau de Sully-sur-Loire

An imposing medieval fortress built in the 14th century, this castle was later on transformed into a residential chateau by the Duke of Sully. Voltaire sought shelter here in Château de Sully-sur-Loire during his exile from Paris. Today the castle hosts a classical music festival every year on June.  

14. Chateau de Angers

This castle was first founded in the 9th century by the Counts of Anjou but its current colossal size was added sometime in the 13th century. Today, the castle has been converted to a museum which houses the oldest and biggest collection of medieval tapestries from all over the world. 

15. Mont St. Michael

Mont St Michel, constructed during the 8th century, is located on a rocky island off the north coast of France in Normandy. When the monastery was first constructed, it was connected to the mainland by a land bridge that was covered completely by water during high tide and visible again at low tide.