Today's ultra-modern and fast-paced world, while full of amazing conveniences, inspires a sense of nostalgia for many people and a yearning for simpler days, days of romantic love and chivalry. Medieval castles are a symbol of this fascination for many people and, when combined with old-fashioned train travel, can create memories of a very special kind. Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors explore these wonderful castles during their railway holidays in Europe.
Trains provide the fastest yet most leisurely means of land travel. With deluxe and comfortable sleeping cars, restaurant cars offering scrumptious cuisine, and elegant and cosy lounge cars for socialisation and relaxation, trains, much like medieval castles, are a welcome incongruity in this modern age. They represent state-of-the-art technology and the pinnacle of luxury and comfort, but are reminiscent of a simpler and more civilised era. Railway holidays in Europe offer the best of both worlds - using the speed and convenience of modern technology to transport travellers to monuments of a past that some consider the height of civilisation.
Listed below are some castles that can be visited by train during your railway holidays in Europe. Some of these castles have been named the most beautiful in the world. With railway holidays in Europe, the trip is often just as exciting as the destination.
Wavel Castle in Cracow
Wawel Castle, a fortress overlooking the Vistula River, is a must-see if you're visiting Cracow. Considered the most significant monument in Polish history, it houses the National Art Collection, preserving artefacts of the cultural and religious tradition of the Polish nation. The settlements on Wawel Hill date back to the 7th century, and the castle itself reflects how architecture has changed through centuries, as its resident rulers changed details to suit their needs and tastes. A tour of the castle's rooms enables visitors to study the original interior design, including treasures such as Renaissance paintings and other art pieces, furnishings, weapons, jewellery and relics.
Tsarevets Castle in Veliko Turnovo
Veliko Turnovo is the site of Tsarevets Castle, a wonderful medieval castle that served as the base for the Second Bulgarian Empire and home of the royalty. Once an impregnable fortress, Tsarevets Castle now functions as a monument with an archaeological museum. It attracts thousands of visitors every year, particularly during the summer months, during which an audiovisual show that features lasers, lights, and music are used to retell the story of the rise and fall of the Ottomans every night.
Bran Castle in Brasov
Bran Castle, also known as Dracula's Castle, will be of extra interest fans of vampire lore. Here, the separation of fact and fiction narrows as the legend of Vlad the Impaler, a Prince of Wallachia and supposedly the basis for the character of Count Dracula, the world's most famous vampire, supposedly called Bran Castle his home. Today, Bran Castle serves as a museum for historical artefacts such as furnishings and art collected by Queen Marie of Romania.