CASTLES & PALACES
The advantages of living in the the center of Europe are that you can travel quickly to a different country and that each of these countries are full of history. It’s literally all around us, with physical examples going back hundreds if not thousands of years back in time. Besides churches, cathedral and abbeys, another way we can learn about what happened a long time ago is by visiting one of the thousands of castles and palaces scattered on the European map. Did you know that Belgium has the world’s highest castle density? Expat Club offers two trips solely focused on castles and palaces, namely the Châteaux de la Loire trip to France, and the Bavarian Castles trip in Southern Germany. Both trips lead us along some incredible castles from various centuries. But also during other trips we visit some exceptional castles and palaces. Some of which you find below.
CHÂTEAU DE CHAMBORD, CHAMBORD (FRANCE)
The Royal Castle Chambord may very well be the world’s most impressive castle. Situated in dense forest about 15km from the Loire river, it was used only a few weeks per year, like a pied-à-terre for the French kings.
CHÂTEAU DE CHENONCEAU, CHENONCEAUX (FRANCE)
Part of our Châteaux de la Loire trip, the world-famous Chenonceau Castle is actually situated on and above the Cher river. With its splendid gardens and lovely Orangerie (now a restaurant), it is the most visited castle in the area and a beloved destination during our trip.
WÜRZBURG RESIDENZ, WÜRZBURG (GERMANY)
Our first stop on the famous Bavarian Castles trip, the Würzburg Residenz is incredibly opulent from inside, whereas it is a huge garden that just screams for a nice stroll along its beautiful trees and flowers.
KAISERBURG, NUREMBURG (FRANCE)
Our last stop during the Bavarian Castles tour leads us to Kaiserburg in the city of Nuremberg (Nürnburg). Totally different from the other places we visit, also because it’s much older, it is jewel that towers above the city below.
THE TOWER OF LONDON, LONDON (UNITED KINGDOM)
One of the world’s most famous castles with a tremendous history is the Tower of London. We visit various places in the city itself, but a guided tour through this historic edifice on the Thames is definitely one of the highlights.
ROYAL PALACE, AMSTERDAM (THE NETHERLANDS)
Although the Dutch monarchs have been living in The Hague for a long time, which is also the city of the government, there is another Royal Palace right in the heart of Amsterdam. It is generally not open to the public unfortunately.
DUCAL PALACE, LUXEMBOURG (LUXEMBOURG)
On our annual trip to Luxembourg City at the end of the summer we not only visit the downtown area and the UNESCO-protected casemates, but also the understated Ducal Palace. During a one hour tour we learn more about the important events that took place in this royal building.
VIANDEN CASTLE, VIANDEN (LUXEMBOURG)
How a small country can have a great castle! Located on a hill overlooking lush green hills and valleys with picturesque houses, this medieval castle has played an important role in history. We visit this castle on a lovely trip through Luxembourg, the country.
SANSSOUCI, POTSDAM (GERMANY)
Located 25km Southwest of the German capital Berlin, the Sanssouci Palace may not be the biggest, but it’s rather opulent whereas the gardens and park around are a pure delight for the eye and legs. Expat Club visits the Sanssouci once per year during the Berlin trip.
CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES, VERSAILLES (FRANCE)
The mother of all palaces, one that inspired countless smaller palaces all around Europe (and even outside). This is a must-see destination. From the private quarters of the King and the Queen to the magnificent gardens and the summer palaces in the back of the estate, Les Petit et Grand Trianons.
DOVER CASTLE, DOVER (UNITED KINGDOM)
England’s largest castle is conveniently located at the closest entry point from Brussels. Built on top of the White Cliffs of Dover, overlooking the world’s busiest ferry port, Dover Castle exhumes a true medieval atmosphere. Still, this place also played an important rule during the Second World War. Operation Dynamo was planned from the underground war tunnels, saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, which probably changed the outcome of the war.