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  • The best castle towns in the world

    Rothenburg ob der Tauber, photo by Destination Europe on Flickr

    In ages past, when castles were being built by the hundreds, little towns would often spring up around them, leaching off the wealth and protection of the castle’s lords and ladies.

    And while castle towns are a fixture in most European countrie, they are not limited to the Old World. Pretty towns with large castles looming over them can be found all over the world, and if the castle is interesting, then the community built around it is no less intriguing.

    If you feel like taking a step back in time to the glorious days of Medieval Europe or Asia, and even North America (without getting acquainted with any of the horrors of the Middle Ages), then take a trip to some of the best castle towns in the world.

    Arundel, UK

    Arundel, photo by David Brogan

    Arundel Castle, built in the 11th century, is one of the most impressive and best preserved medieval castles in Europe, and the pride and joy of the small British town of Arundel. Like many other small towns in the UK, Arundel is steeped in history, and it was even mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.

    Walking around Arundel is pure joy – the streets are rather narrow and the town in small, so there is no need to hop on public transport, and the castle, perched on a hill, is just a short walk from the town center.

    Rhodes, Greece

    Rhodes was the home of one of the seven wonders of the world, the famed Colossus of Rhodes, but even if the statue has been long gone, there are other things of interest in this quaint Greek town. The Old Town is encircled by a thick wall dating back to the Middle Ages, forming a separate area of the city which might as well  belong to another era. The highlight of the Old Town is the Palace of the Grand Master, built in the 14th century by the Knights of Rhodes.

    Jaisalmer, India

    Jalsaimer, photo by Tom Maisey on Flickr

    The town of Jailsalmer in Rajasthan, Idia, was built around what used to be one of the largest fortresses in the world. The massive yellow sandstone fort stands in the inhospitable Thar Desert, and it is in a world of its own, surrounded but separated from the modern city.

    The fort is a bustle of activity, shops, hotels and restaurants, but it hasn’t lost any of its historic flavor. The Raj Mahal, the royal palace, is the main attraction in the fort, but far from being the only one.

    Naganeupseong, South Korea

    Rhodes, photo by Red Rose Exile on Flickr

    Naganeupseong is one of the most fascinating castles in South Korea, and one of the last few remaining Joseon castles in the country.

    And while the castle is certainly a worthwhile attraction, the surrounding folk village is even more interesting. The village still has about one hundred families residing in the small traditional houses, and it is a place where old Korean traditions are kept alive.

    Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

    Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the prototypical fairy tale castle town, all drenched in color and quaint houses that look like they were built out of gingerbread. Understandably, the historical center of Rothenburg is one of the most visited and photographed places in Germany. The town was built around the 11th century castle, and it has many attractions that seem to have avoided the passage of time entirely.

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