Living in private houses, multi-story buildings and skyscrapers make it really difficult to imagine how is it like to live in a castle or palace. We're looking at these grandeur constructions and they seem otherworldly to us. They surely are otherworldly, because castles and palaces originate from a completely different era which we know so little about. Even if we read all the books on history, it will be very difficult for us to imagine all the details of Medieval household and all the nuances entailed by living in the castles.

However distant that spirit of the Medieval Ages may be in relation to our current lifestyle there is still a no better place to feel it than in an ancient castle or palace. Those were the places were fates of tens of thousands of people were decided upon. The lives of kings, the history of nations, the legends of great victories and defeats, the vendettas, alliances, the heart-breaking love stories, the spirit of the whole era lives in the castle walls which witnessed every second of the Medieval epoch.

And however epic and mysterious European castles may be, Asian palaces keep dramatic histories of their own. The Asian way of life, reflected in a completely different architectural form, opens the new facets of life. The walls of Asian castles and palaces filled with centuries of rich history have their stories to tell.

Ancient European castles, mysterious Tibetan palaces, haunted Indian forts, colorful romanticism monuments, palaces glimmering with gold...all of them have unique secrets which open only to those who are ready to listen.

20 Europe: Hohenwerfen Castle, Austria

Hohenwerfen is a mighty Austrian castle situated above a 623-meter precipice and overlooking the Salzachtal valley. It is located a little more than 40 kilometers from Salzburg city and during more than 900 years of history, this castle still has retained some of the best preserved medieval rooms and forts on the continent.

The walls of Hohenwerfen have seen countless sieges and attacks, it survived both wise & mighty and short-sighted & greedy lords and rulers and it hosted many generations of people who spent all of their lives there. Imagine the chills that it can give to you if you dare to open yourself to the castle's spirit.

19 Asia: Potala Palace, Tibet

Potala Palace will give you a completely different feeling compared to Hohenwerfen castle. The construction of this majestic building started in 1645. The completed building had 13 stories, 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines, and about 200,000 statues. Another spectacular thing about Potala palace is that it's located 3,700 meters above sea level which makes it the highest palace in the world.

Initially, it served as Dalai Lama's residence, but after brutal attack of Chinese army on the free people of Tibet, Dalai Lama was forced to flee to India and now his official residence is situated in Dharamsala, Northern India. As for Potala Palace, it now serves as a museum, where you can see thousands of Tibetan cultural relics. I sincerely hope that China will admit their atrocities in relation to the Tibetan people and Potala palace will once again become the Dalai Lama's residence.

18 Europe: Bran Castle, Romania

How can one compile a list like this without the inclusion of the famous Dracula castle? It's old, mysterious and creepy and it is bound to give you the chills if you visit it. Bran castle was erected in the 13th century and it was iconized by Bram Stoker's Dracula novel in the 19th century. Historians suggest that the real person behind the Dracula story is Vlad III Dracula, who really drank the blood of people.

While there was no Dracula or even Vlad III in the Bran castle, people who don't know it can easily believe this story because of numerous secret passages, spacious dark rooms, and winding stairs which add to the castle's mystery.

17 Asia: Himeji Castle, Japan

World famous Himeji castle which is the best example of traditional Japanese castle architecture is located on a hilltop in Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan. Beside the main building, there are 83 other buildings which make up the castle complex. Himeji castle dates back to 1333. It was built by Akamatsu Norimura, who was the samurai warrior. The castle was considerably remodeled during the following 7 centuries. Himeji castle miraculously survived the Second World War without being damaged and it was included in the list of  UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

This Asian gem is one of the few castles on the list which can be considered haunted. According to the legend, Okiku who was falsely accused of losing valuable dishes was killed and thrown in the castle's well. Since that time her ghost haunts the castle at night by counting dishes with a creepy voice and gets back to the well after counting to nine.

16 Europe: The Palace of Pena, Portugal

Fortunately for visitors who don't like creepy stories and haunted places, the Palace of Pena in Portugal has a non-spooky background. Being a major expression of the 19th-century romanticism, the Palace of Pena, wasn't always a palace. The story of this magnificent building started in the 12th century. Back then it was a chapel and it existed in this form until the 19th century when King Ferdinand II decided to turn it into a castle.

The Palace of Pena is located in the Park of Pena which consists of luxuriant gardens with more than 500 species of different trees and a beautiful forest. The palace can be seen from any point in the park.

15 Asia: Gyeongbokgung Palace, South Korea

Gyeongbokgung Palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Seoul. It was initially erected in 1395, but it was burned to the ground several times. In the past, it served as the home of the Kings and later as the residence of government officials.

The modern history of Gyeongbokgung palace started in 1935. Nowadays this palace is very important to the people of South Korea because of the significance that it bears in terms of cultural and historical heritage. Thankfully to constant efforts to restore Gyeongbokgung palace we can visit and enjoy this monument of Asian architecture today. And fortunately for us, the modern version of the palace is regarded as the most beautiful compared to five of its previous versions.

14 Europe: Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

According to archaeologists, the rock where Edinburgh Castle stands has been inhabited since the 2nd century. The castle was constructed there in the 12th century and since that time it played role in the Seven Years War, the Jacobite risings, the American Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars.

In the 19th century it was used as barracks and a military prison, but just like with most buildings like this, it was soon transformed into a national monument. Now it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it sees millions of tourists from all over the world on a yearly basis. An executive branch of the government handles the administrative duties and military museums are taken care of by the army.

13 Asia: Bhangarh Fort, Rajasthan, India

This place is very different from most of the castles and palaces on the list. It's not ancient, it doesn't shimmer with gold and it isn't even taken care of properly. The reason why it's worth mentioning here is that it's the most haunted building on the list. It's also nicknamed the most haunted location of India.

During the day it's a popular tourist spot, but by dusk and at night visitors are not allowed in the building. According to the legend, a black magic tantric practitioner cursed the people who lived in this fort and they were killed because of the invasion soon after the curse. People who tried to visit it after sunset say that they woke up in the morning not being able to remember what happened at night. Spooky.

12 Europe: Reichsburg Cochem, Germany

Now, let's take a look at one of the oldest castles in the world. The earliest mention of Reichsburg Cochem dates back to 1051, but it is believed that the castle was built even earlier.

It became an official Imperial castle in 1151 after King Konrad III occupied it by force. Later in 1688, the castle was severely damaged by the troops of French King Louis XIV to be restored in Gothic Revival style in 1868. As you can imagine, the castle that we see today is very different from the castle which was erected near the town of Cochem in the 12th century.

Reichsburg Cochem has a Witches Tower. This name is related to a legend which claims that this tower was used to check if women were witches by throwing them out of an upper window. I'm so glad that the Middle Ages are over.

11 Asia: Forbidden City, China

The Forbidden City located in Beijing, China is without a doubt a staggering symbol of authority and power. It served as a residence of Chinese Emperors for almost 500 years. Since the age of emperors is over, the Forbidden City is now open to the public.

It consists of 980 buildings, covers 72 hectares has the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.

In addition to hundreds of majestic buildings, this place also holds an incredible collection of artifacts from the Qing and Ming dynasties. Over a million rare valuable items and works of art are stored in museums of the Forbidden City.

10 Europe: Alcázar of Segovia, Spain

Brace yourselves, we're going the Alcazar of Segovia. What was originally an Arab fortress built atop the Roman fort, became a classic stone castle when it was reconquered by Christians in the 11th century. Although nothing remained of the Muslim-era version of the castle, the exotic name given to this majestic building by Muslim rulers wasn't changed ever since ('Alcazar' is a Moorish word for the castle).

Shortly after King Alfonso VIII reconquered this castle he began its reconstruction which resulted in the building that we see today. The distant ancestor of King Alfonso VIII, King Alfonso XIII allowed the castle to be used as a military college in the late 19th century. It is currently used as a museum and a military archives building.

9 Asia: Royal Palace, Cambodia

The Royal Palace is one of the most impressive things to see in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. This palace was built in 1866 by the grandfather of Cambodia's current king in the area of the old town. In contrast with many other Asian palaces on the list, the Royal Palace in Cambodia is still used as the residence of the royals. It can be visited by tourists, but the King's living area is, of course, closed for visitors.

Glimmering with gold, this palace is a great example of Khmer architecture and you can also find the biggest mural frescos in South East Asia there.

8 Europe: Chambord Castle, France

This castle is famous for its very distinct French Renaissance architecture blended with the classic look and feel of Medieval castles. It was built in the 16th century for King Francis I and quite possibly with the involvement of Leonardo da Vinci's talent.

There were times when the building remained abandoned, but in the 19th century, there were attempts of its restoration. However, only in the second half of the 20h century it was fully restored and made available for the public. Nowadays Château de Chambord is receiving hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. It's famous not just for the castle but also for the surrounding French gardens and natural forest.

7 Asia: Matsumoto Castle, Japan

I've already mentioned one shining example of the traditional Japanese castle architecture, which is Himeji castle, but it is also absolutely necessary to point your attention to Matsumoto Castle, or the Crow Castle. Constructed in 1504 as a fort, it became a castle only by the end of the 16th century.

Every season, your experience of visiting the Matsumoto Castle will differ greatly. I would advise you to see it in autumn, during the Moon Viewing Party. Where else can you admire the moon three times? You can enjoy it in the sky, reflected in the still lake waters, and in your cup of tea at the same time.

In contrast with Himeji castle, there are no creepy stories related to this castle's Medieval past.

6 Europe: Conwy Castle, Wales, UK

Let's get back from wooden castles of Asia to stone giants of Europe and take a closer look at the Conwy Castle located on the north coast of Wales, UK. It was built in the end of 13th century by Edward I. The castle has two barbicans, eight large towers and its own private access to the sea.

Conwy Castle is without a doubt one of the greatest surviving Medieval castle complexes in the United Kingdom. One remarkable thing about it is that it's impressive both outside and inside. There are many interesting rooms, wards, and chambers which you can explore to get a better connection to the castle's spirit.

5 Asia: Royal Palace, Laos

Don't mix up the Royal Palaces in Cambodia and Laos. They may look similar to those who don't know the nuances of Asian architecture, but in fact, they were constructed in different styles.

The Royal Palace in Luang Prabang, Laos is not an old building. It was erected in 1904 and served as a residence for royal monarchy until 1975 when it was overthrown by the communists. After these events, the palace was transformed into a national museum. In contrast with the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which was constructed in Khmer architecture style, the architecture of the Royal Palace in Luang Prabang mixes French Beaux-Arts style with traditional Lao motifs. A quite impressive sight.

4 Europe: Bojnice Castle, Slovakia

We had different types of castles on the list, but Slovakian Bojnice Castle is definitely the most romantic one. It was erected in the 12th century and is the most popular castle in Slovakia. Its fairy-tale look and picturesque surroundings make it a favorite spot for the lovers of Medieval spirit. One impressive thing about this castle's surrounding grounds is that they host the most visited and oldest zoo in Slovakia.

It was a wooden castle but, following a series of transformations and reconstructions, it was turned into a marvelous stone creation that we can enjoy today. In case the beautiful castle with lake and surrounding park with an old zoo is not enough, you can also visit the museum of history and art located within the castle's walls.

3 Asia: Jaipur Palace, India

This magnificent red building constructed in the first half of the 18th century has a great role in royal life and history of Rajasthan state of India. Many of the festivals and marriages were celebrated by the royal family in this palace. The palace complex consists of Shri Govind Dev temple, Mukut Mahal, City Palace Museum and Maharani’s palace.

City Palace is one of the most impressive landmarks in Jaipur and it will be of great interest both for those who enjoy stellar architecture and those who are hungry for the places with a rich historical heritage. And of course for those who like everything Indian!

2 Europe: The Hohenzollern Castle, Germany

The first reference to Hohenzollern House was in 1061 and the first mention of the castle dates back to 1267. According to contemporary sources, it was "the most fortified House in Germany" until it was completely destroyed in 1423. The castle was recovered but in the 1800s it was destroyed once again.

In 1819 Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia has made a decision to rebuilt Hohenzollern House as a sign of respect to Hohenzollern House. His dream was realized in 1850 and, as a result, one of Germany's most imposing castle complexes was created.

If you want to see the magnificent views which evoke fairy-tale fantasies, I can definitely recommend you to visit this castle. Take into consideration that only during summer beer gardens are open for picnics.

1 Asia: Grand Palace, Thailand

This is probably one of the chicest and polished Asian palaces in the world. Bangkok's Grand Palace literally glisters with gold. It was built in 1782, to serve as the residence of the Thai King, the administrative government and the Royal court. The Grand Palace was used this way for 150 years, but by 1932 governmental agencies moved out of this place completely. Today several royal offices are situated in the Grand Palace, but it mostly works as a museum.

It's one of the most visited places in Bangkok and, after being there myself, I can confirm that this palace is really worth visiting.

While few modern castles and palaces can transmit the authentic vibe of the long forgotten days if you're attentive enough you can hear their ancient spirit talking to you.

References: Cntraveler, Light Foot Travel, The Honey Combers, Rojak Daily, Way to India