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17 of the Eeriest Abandoned Castles Around the World

These abandoned castles may have been deserted long ago, but they're still must-see spots. Enjoy a virtual peek at these spectacular ruins.

Stone ruins of Whitby Abbey on the cliffs of Whitby, North Yorkshire, England at sunset.Jeff Baumgart/Shutterstock

Romantic, haunting—and fascinating

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of the romantic and mysterious. Abandoned castles command our attention, surrounded by moats or perched on windswept cliffs like something from a novel. From crumbling castles to precarious palaces, what is it about these eerily beautiful ruins that captivate us?

Abandoned places arouse our imaginations as we think about what might have happened at these sites, whether that’s tragedy or the simple march of time. From abandoned mansions to abandoned cities, creepy photos of empty places are full of mystery. This is especially true of abandoned castles and their haunting charm. What are their secrets—and why were they deserted? We rounded up 17 of the eeriest and most interesting abandoned castles to find out.

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Pidhirtsi Castle, village Podgortsy, Renaissance Palace, Lviv region, Ukraine. Retro stylized photo in black and white colors Chamille White/Shutterstock

Pidhirtsi Castle

Location: Pidhirtsi, Ukraine

Once considered one of the finest castles in Europe, Pidhirtsi Castle was built in the 17th century by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth’s Crown Hetman Stanislaw Koniecpolski, according to Discover Ukraine. Part of the Golden Horseshoe tourist route, this impressive Renaissance-style stone castle located in western Ukraine was used in the filming of D’Artagnan and Three Musketeers in 1978. If you’re a cinema buff, you won’t want to miss these movie and TV filming locations you can actually visit.

Gettyimages 1251000614 Hamilton Palace In East Sussex By Chris GormanChris Gorman/Getty Images

Hamilton Palace

Location: Uckfield, England

Originally planned to be the residence of a controversial real estate tycoon, this unfinished mansion is larger than even Buckingham Palace. Construction began in 1985 but was never completed. Now sitting untouched for decades, it’s been called “The ghost of Sussex”—and that’s not even the creepiest thing about it. The millionaire who built it was imprisoned for 10 years on charges of organizing the murder of a business rival. The property itself contains its own mausoleum and is surrounded by threatening signs warning off trespassers. Here are other true urban legends to give you the creeps.

Ballycarbery Castle with old boatBildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock

Ballycarbery Castle

Location: Kerry, Ireland

This ivy-clad abandoned castle near the water’s edge in County Kerry was built around the 16th century. The stone walls are the only things from it that have endured the sands of time. The edifice was severely damaged in the mid-1600s when Oliver Cromwell’s troops attacked it with cannon fire; local farmers subsequently took some stones for their own building projects. If you’ve always wanted to be treated like royalty, check out these fairy-tale Irish castles you can actually stay in.

Gettyimages 625224108 Bodiam Castle By Prisma By DukasPrisma by Dukas/Getty Images

Bodiam Castle

Location: Bodiam, England

Bodiam Castle, among the most famous abandoned castles in England, was built in 1385 by one of King Richard II’s knights, who survived the age of the Black Death and was a contemporary of Chaucer. The castle was constructed for protection in battle, with thick armored walls, a portcullis and even a moat. It weathered several wars before falling into ruin and was eventually bequeathed to the National Trust in 1926 for preservation and opened to the public for tours. Today, the castle remains a hot spot for history buffs and tourists. With fog rising off the moat, this castle is equal parts eerie and historically interesting. Read these spooky ghost stories for even more chills.

Ruin of castle Cachtice - SlovakiaTTstudio/Shutterstock

Castle of Čachtice

Location: Čachtice, Slovakia

Castle of Čachtice, built in Slovakia in the 13th century, was the home of Elizabeth Báthory, dubbed the “bloody countess.” Accused of torturing and killing more than 600 young girls—and, according to legend, bathing in their blood in an effort to stay young and beautiful forever—Báthory was sentenced to life in prison. Today, despite its dark history, this site is a lot less macabre. While you obviously can’t stay in this castle, you can rent these gorgeous castles on Airbnb.

Gettyimages 1281408544 Castle In Łapalice, Poland By Ewg3dewg3D/Getty Images

Łapalice Castle

Location: Łapalice, Poland

Despite being unfinished and abandoned, Łapalice Castle is one of the largest privately owned residences in Poland. Although it looks ancient, construction actually began in the 1980s. Sculptor Piotr Kazimierczak wanted it as a house and studio, but progress stopped when the sheer size of the project caused financial and legal problems. The abandoned castle has 365 windows, 52 rooms and 12 turrets to symbolize the number of days, weeks and months in a year. Now a popular site for graffiti and still in legal limbo, the castle’s future is uncertain—but Kazimierczak still hopes to finish construction and move in one day. The structure is considered unsafe, but brave tourists and locals still explore at their own risk. Check out these other abandoned houses that will make you want to explore.

CapitolsDiana Haronis/Getty Images

Château Gaillard

Location: Les Andelys, France

Gaillard Castle, known in French as Château Gaillard, was a 12th-century castle on the Andelys cliff overlooking the Seine River. Built by Richard I of England, also known as Richard the Lionheart, the castle was eventually conquered by Philip II of France in 1204. Here are jaw-dropping photos of the world’s most beautiful countries.

Castle Frankenstein, Darmstadt-Ebertstadt LaMiaFotografia/Shutterstock

Frankenstein’s Castle

Location: Mühltal, Germany

This 13th-century medieval castle was dubbed Frankenstein’s Castle long before Mary Shelley penned her Gothic tale. “Frank” refers to an ancient Germanic tribe and “Stein” means stone, and many edifices in Germany actually bear the name Frankenstein. That said, this particular castle is the one most associated with the famous book. In fact, since the 17th century, Frankenstein’s Castle in southern Hesse has been the inspiration for many legends, according to National Geographic. Be sure to brush up on the story of physician and alchemist Johann Konrad Dippel, who was born in the castle and invented an animal oil he claimed transferred souls between dead bodies. Like supernatural spots? Check out the spookiest travel destinations around the world.

Ruins of the abandoned Havre castle, BelgiumLev Levin/Shutterstock

Havré Castle

Location: Mons, Belgium

Havré Castle was constructed on the remains of a 12th-century feudal fortress. Throughout its storied history, it belonged to a number of esteemed families and welcomed a bevy of luminaries, including painters Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony Van Dyck, Marie of Hungary, Marie de Medici, Prince Eugène of Savoy and the Duke of Marlborough. Over the years, the castle was sold, bought and ultimately abandoned. In 1979, a group of concerned citizens formed a nonprofit organization to restore the site. But not all abandoned sites are beautiful or restored, like these abandoned hospitals.

Kellie's CastleCik Bak/Shutterstock

Kellie’s Castle

Location: Batu Gajah, Malaysia

The unfinished castle of William Kellie Smith, a Scottish rubber plantation owner, is one of Malaysia’s most interesting structures. Smith had a grand vision for the castle, which he built for his family. The plans included a six-story tower, an indoor tennis court, a rooftop entertainment center and a wine cellar. Ironically, it would have featured Malaysia’s first elevator, but en route to purchase it, Smith died of pneumonia. His sudden death ultimately prompted his forlorn wife to sell the property, which was later abandoned. Places that have been abandoned often have fascinating histories, like these abandoned amusement parks that will give you the creeps.

Ogrodzieniec Castle, Poland.Dziewul/Shutterstock

Ogrodzieniec Castle

Location: Podzamcze, Poland

Since the 14th century, Ogrodzieniec Castle has been celebrated as an iconic medieval structure that defended the Polish Crown. During the Polish-Swedish war, the castle endured a devastating fire, and its residential section suffered irreparable damage. But it remains a beloved, enchanting site. The castle’s magical setting on a hill in Poland’s Jura Chain has inspired painters and filmmakers, and it attracts a growing number of visitors, according to Poland’s tourism website. If it looks familiar, that may be because the castle has made cameos in a local Polish TV series, Roman Polanski’s The Revenge, and an Iron Maiden video. Here are some other historic places that are now abandoned.

A front on view of the spectacular and magical ivy clad castle that has been left abandoned and left to the forces of nature2checkingout/Getty Images

Menlo Castle

Location: Galway, Ireland

Located a short walk from Galway, Menlo Castle was built in the 16th century and was home to English nobles from the Blake family. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed most of the castle in 1910, and it has been abandoned since then. The abandoned castle has transformed from a stone facade to a vibrant green as it’s become covered by vines and nearly indistinguishable from the greenery surrounding it.

Medieval fortress Dunnottar Castle is a ruined medieval cliff-top fortress dating to the fourteenth century. Aberdeenshire, Stonehaven on the Northeast of Scotland, UKMarten_House/Shutterstock

Dunnottar Castle

Location: Stonehaven, Scotland

It’s believed that this romantic cliff-top ruin in Scotland was built in Pictish times, between 5000 BC and 700 AD. Of course, it had many residents over the years, including the 4th Earl Marischal in the 1500s, a guardian of Mary, Queen of Scots, who was thought to be the wealthiest man in Scotland at the time. After many dramatic centuries’ worth of battles and betrayals, the castle was confiscated by the government in the 18th century. It was abandoned and left in ruins until 1925, when an English viscountess undertook its restoration. While it is privately owned, it is now open to the public to enjoy. Here are more jaw-dropping photos of Scotland.

Saranta Kolones or Forty columns castle, ruined medieval fortress in Paphos Archaeological Park (Kato Pafos), harbour of Paphos, Cyprus. Scenic landscape with ruin of ancient architecture and blue skyUhryn Larysa/Shutterstock

Saranta Kolones

Location: Paphos, Cyprus

Saranta Kolones translated into English means “40 columns.” The original Byzantine castle was built on 40 granite columns, according to the travel website of Cyprus, and it’s thought to have been built in the 7th century. In 1223, it was destroyed by an earthquake and later abandoned. Cyprus is also home to one of the world’s most amazing and underrated travel destinations.

Caerlaverock Castle ruinrphstock/Shutterstock

Caerlaverock Castle

Location: Dumfries, Scotland

A visit to Caerlaverock Castle will reveal a medieval fortress complete with a moat, battlement and twin-towered gatehouse. Visitors can enjoy an informative exhibition on siege warfare, and in the summer and on weekends in the winter, they can visit the castle’s tearoom for a treat.

Bannerman Castle Armory on Pollepel Island in the Hudson River, New York.Felix Lipov/Shutterstock

Bannerman’s Castle

Location: Dutchess County, New York

You don’t have to buy a plane ticket to Europe to find a Gothic-looking abandoned castle. To visit one closer to home, head to New York. Just take a boat ride on the Hudson River, about 60 miles north of Manhattan, to visit Bannerman’s Castle on the island of the same name. The 19th-century artifact was erected to house businessman Francis Bannerman’s military goods and also used as his family’s summer residence. Thanks to the Bannerman Castle Trust, the curious can still visit the site and enjoy special events. While you’re in the Big Apple, check out these other abandoned places in New York City and these scary urban legends from every state.

 Main entrance with clock of Sammezzano castle in Tuscany Dorosh/Shutterstock

Sammezzano Castle

Location: Leccio, Italy

Built in 1605, Sammezzano Castle is a Moorish-style structure that sits atop a hill near Florence. To say that this abandoned castle is ornate is an understatement. It has a whopping 365 unique rooms, one for each day of the calendar year. (Yes, you read that right.) They include the Peacock Room, which boasts a rainbow of colors and geometries, and a White Room, resplendent with Moroccan mosaic-tiled floors. After World War II, this castle was turned into a luxury hotel until it closed in the 1990s. While Sammezzano Castle is still spectacular, the same can’t be said for these abandoned hotels that will give you the chills.

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Stacey Marcus
Stacey Marcus is a lifestyle writer and regular contributor to RD.com where she covers subjects ranging from zodiac insight and penguin secrets to trivia and trends. She earned a BA in Communications from Simmons University. When not pitching story ideas and cherry picking words, she can be found capturing sweet moments with her fluffy dog and office mate Theo.