A water castle is a castle or stately home whose site is entirely surrounded by moats or natural water bodies. The water that surrounds the castle was used as an obstacle to hinder an attacker. In many places in Europe, castles that had formerly been fortified changed their role or were converted over the course of time so that they became largely representational and residential buildings.
1. Červená Lhota Castle, Czech Republic
Červená Lhota is a château situated about 20 km (12.5 mi) north-west of Jindřichův Hradec in south Bohemia, Czech Republic. It stands in the middle of a lake on a rocky island. Its picturesque Renaissance building is a destination of thousands of tourists every year. The name Červená Lhota means “red village” and can be explained by the color of the château’s bright-red roof tiles.
The four-winged two-storey château, with a small courtyard in the center, occupies the whole rock and just into the fishpond. A stone bridge, built in 1622, links the château with the banks of the pond, replacing the original drawbridge. The southern edge of the fishpond is covered in thick forest, which forms a backdrop to the château. A marked circular path stretches around the fishpond. Rowing across the fishpond is a pleasant diversion on a hot summer day, and boats can be hired near the château.
2. Schloss Nordkirchen, Germany
Schloss Nordkirchen is located in Westphalia, Germany, and was built in 1703 to 1734. It is known as the “Versailles of Westphalia” as it is the largest of the partly moated castles in that region. The castle stands on a rectangular island surrounded by a broad moat-like canal. At the island’s four corners stand four small free-standing pavilions.
The garden front gives onto a landscaped park of some 170 hectares (0.66 sq mi), reached through a formal parterre of scrolling broderie on axis, flanked by expanses of lawn. The gardens and the surrounded woods are peopled with a multitude of lifesize marble statues of which the first deliveries were made in 1721 from the Munich sculptor Johann Wilhelm Gröninger.
3. Moritzburg Castle, Germany
Moritzburg Castle is a Baroque palace in Moritzburg, in the German state of Saxony, about 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) northwest of the Saxon capital, Dresden. The castle has four round towers and lies on a symmetrical artificial island.
It is named after Duke Moritz of Saxony, who had a hunting lodge built there between 1542 and 1546. The surrounding woodlands and lakes have been a favourite hunting area of the electors and kings of Saxony.
4. Vischering Castle, Germany
Vischering Castle in North Rhine-Westfalia is the most typical moated castle in the Münster region of Germany. This region has one of the highest German concentrations of castles, palaces and fortifications.
The castle consists of outer defensive courtyard, defensive gateways, moat, drawbridge, main building and chapel. The sandstone walls, the red tile roofs as well as their reflection in the moat provide many harmonious views from the wooded surroundings.
5. Trakai Island Castle, Lithuania
Trakai Island Castle is an island castle located in Trakai, Lithuania, on an island in Lake Galvė. The castle is sometimes referred to as “Little Marienburg”. The construction of the stone castle was begun in the 14th century, and around 1409 major works were completed. Trakai was one of the main centres of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the castle held great strategic importance.
The Trakai Island Castle today is the hub where plenty of concerts, events and festivals are held. In Lithuania, the castle is also considered to be one of the most beautiful historical monuments ever. In 1962, a museum was opened here. During the year Trakai Island Castle attracts up to 300 000 visitors.
6. Leeds Castle, UK
Leeds Castle, though only one of hundreds of castles in the U.K., is unique in that it has been updated to a comfortable, livable one. It became a royal palace over 700 years ago and has seen no military action for almost that long. The castle lies in a large park on a small lake – a beautiful sight, especially in the moonlight.
7. Brennhausen, Germany
Brennhausen is a castle in Bavaria, Germany. It is located in the Haßberge Nature Park. The first known mention of Brennhausen in an official document was the year 1182.
8. Schwerin Castle, Germany
Schwerin Castle is a castle located in the city of Schwerin, the capital of the Bundesland of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. For centuries it was the home of the dukes and grand dukes of Mecklenburg and later Mecklenburg-Schwerin. It currently serves as the seat of the state parliament.
Set in a romantic location on a small island in Lake Schwerin, Schwerin Castle is one of Europe’s foremost examples of historicist architecture. The island location chosen for the original Slav stronghold, first documented in 973, offers many strategic advantages.
9. Herstmonceux Castle, UK
Herstmonceux Castle is a brick-built castle near Herstmonceux, East Sussex, England. This castle is one of the oldest significant brick buildings (built in the 15th century) still standing in England; brick was an unusual material for the time in Britain. The builders of Herstmonceux Castle concentrated more on grandeur and comfort than on defence.
From 1957 to 1988 its grounds were the home of the Royal Greenwich Observatory. Today it is used by the Bader International Study Centre of Queen’s University, Canada. Herstmonceux Castle is home to events throughout the year, including the annual England’s Medieval Festival on August Bank Holiday weekend.
10. Muiderslot, Netherlands
The Muiderslot is a castle in the Netherlands, located at the mouth of the river Vecht, some 15 km (9.3 mi) southeast of Amsterdam, in Muiden, where it flows into what used to be the Zuiderzee (drained bay). It’s one of the better known castles in the Netherlands.
The Muiderslot, surrounded by a splendid castle moat, is furnished and decorated with art and everyday objects from the 16th century. The castle is currently a national museum. The insides of the castle, its rooms and kitchens, have been restored to look like they did in the 17th century and several of the rooms now house a good collection of arms and armour.
11. Glücksburg Castle, Germany
Glücksburg Castle is a castle in the town of Glücksburg, Germany. It is one of the most important Renaissance castles in northern Europe. This castle is the seat of the House of Glücksburg (ducal house) and was also used by the Danish kings.
Situated on the Flensburg Fjord the castle is now a museum owned by a foundation, and is no longer inhabited by the ducal family. Its board of directors is chaired by Christoph, Prince of Schleswig-Holstein, the current titular duke and head of the House of Glücksburg and House of Oldenburg.
12. Moyland Castle, Germany
Moyland Castle is a moated castle in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Its name derives from the Dutch word Moiland which means “beautiful country”. The name was probably coined by Dutch workers, which the former owner Jacob van den Eger of the Lower Rhine had brought to his property to drain the surrounding wetlands.
The palace complex consists of a closed, four-towered main keep (a type of fortified tower), which is southeast of farm buildings in the front. The latter is home to a museum café, museum administration, the library and a space for changing exhibitions.
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