We’re all about those Disney mansions! Since we were little, Disney castles have captured us with their promises of grand architecture, long, sweeping staircases, and breathtaking panoramic views. Even though the plots were based on fairy tales, some of the most recognizable castles in Disney movies were really modeled after real-world structures.
With these 8 enchanted Disney castles that you can enter, you’re free (and encouraged) to relive your childhood fantasies.
Snow White’s Castle Inspiration:
Alcazar Castle, Spain
According to legend, the magnificent fortification in Segovia that is formed like a ship’s bow served as the inspiration for the evil queen’s castle in Disney’s first animated feature film. The remarkable structure, which dates back to the early 12th century, has served as a royal palace, a prison, a college, a military institution, and is now a museum. (However, we prefer it because of its inclusion in the Disney classic.)
Tangled’s Castle Inspiration:
Mont Saint-Michel, France
This modern animation, which is based on the tale of Rapunzel, takes place in the Kingdom of Corona, an enchanting locale inspired by the actual Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy. The island, which was once one of the most well-known pilgrimage sites in Europe, is today popular with tourists because of its historic abbey, charming streets, and breathtaking views. Oh, and how about some magic, then? The island is transformed twice daily by the greatest tides in all of Europe, which occur in Mont Saint-Michel Bay.
Beauty and the Beast’s Castle Inspiration:
Chateau Du Chambord, France
The castle that served as the real-life model for the Beast’s castle may be seen in Loir-et-Cher, France, for fans of this Disney classic (and the more contemporary Emma Watson version). When researching for the movie, Glen Keane, one of the animators, went to the château and immediately realized that the “ominous, majestic structure with all of these spires” was where the Beast lived. (Candles and talking clocks are not included.)
The Little Mermaid’s Castle Inspiration:
Chillon Castle, Switzerland
Does the manor on Lake Geneva look familiar to you? The castle of Prince Eric is based on it. The château is open to visitors on their own or with a guide, and it can be rented out for personal functions. How enchanted would it be to exchange vows within a genuine Disney castle?
Frozen’s Castle Inspiration:
Hotel de Glace, Canada
The hotel in Quebec where visitors can stay in a real snow and ice castle served as the model for Elsa’s sparkling ice palace. Chris Buck, the director of the movie, went to the hotel five years before it was released to conduct research, so you know it’s worthwhile. Just be careful not to belt out “Let It Go” too loudly.
Aladdin’s Castle Inspiration:
Taj Mahal, India
It is simple to understand how India’s most well-known structure served as inspiration for the Sultan’s palace given the white marble, the lush gardens, and the elegant towers. This popular tourist destination in Agra and UNESCO World Heritage monument is actually a mausoleum that Emperor Shah Jahan ordered in 1632 for his loving wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
Cinderella’s Castle Inspiration:
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Prince Charming’s residence was modeled by the Bavarian Neuschwanstein, which is arguably the most well-known Disney castle of them all. The home of Sleeping Beauty was likewise modeled after this fairy-tale palace (and the Disney theme park attraction). Visitors can take a tour of the castle and discover more about Ludwig II of Bavaria, known as the “Mad King,” who erected it in 1892 as a hideaway for Richard Wagner, one of his favorite composers.
Brave’s Castle Inspiration:
Dunnottar Castle, Scotland
It is not surprising that the Scottish scenery served as inspiration for this family favorite about a disobedient princess. The DunBroch family castle was modeled after Dunnottar, a massive stone building with a long history and dramatic location perched on a cliff overlooking the sea.