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Built by kings and queens to protect and rule their realms, castles had not only to be able to withstand attack but to project their power and wealth. As such, sturdy keeps and imposing walls were erected alongside marvelous palaces, full of ornate and elaborate chambers and throne rooms.
These castles were often built at strategic and spectacular settings at the mouths of valleys, at the entrance to mountain passes, or on glittering lakeshores. Add in the weight of history, and these amazing structures set amongst breathtaking scenery make for some of the most beautiful castles in Europe.