18 Fascinating Satellite Photos Of Famous Castles

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Vote up the images that give you a new perspective on royal estates.

Castles were built to withstand not only the elements but also enemy sieges and the occasional fury of hungry commoners, so it's no surprise that many of them survived into the present day. Most of these have transitioned from royal residences into tourist attractions, and it's easy to understand why. Palaces, citadels, fortresses, and just really big chateaus hold an undeniable attraction to modern eyes.

The world's largest castles are fairy tales made real, physical evidence of an era far removed from the now. Seen from below, they inspire awe. Seen from above, with the latest in satellite technology, it becomes clearer how they've shaped the land around them. Check out these satellite pics of castles, and vote up the ones that give you a new perspective on the past.

Photo: Google Earth

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    1,181 VOTES

    Mont Saint-Michel, France

    Though not properly a castle, Mont-Saint-Michel resisted sieges during the Hundred Years' War and the French Wars of Religion, and is a unique medieval remnant whose walls and towers provide an even more unique vista from above. Technically an abbey and village, the Romanesque and Gothic structure is completely surrounded by the waters of Mont-Saint-Michel Bay during high tide. 

    Constructed between the 11th and 16th centuries, the Benedictine abbey is known as the "Wonder of the West," and has been a site of pilgrimage for a thousand years. Houses in the village date to the 15th century, though most are now hotels and shops.

    1,181 votes
  • Originally the site of Louis XIII's hunting lodge, the monarch's son, Louis XIV, would eventually transform it into the new home of the French court. Louis oversaw the construction of a lavish palace containing pressurized fountains, about 350 apartments, and architectural works of art like the Hall of Mirrors.

    Perhaps Danish writer Louise Boisen Schmidt said it best:

    To the public imagination, Versailles is the epitome of opulence. It represents an age in French history of both France's rise as a fashion and power center as well as the dramatic — and bloody — decline of the monarchy.

    2,101 votes
  • The official London residence of the United Kingdom's royalty since the early 19th century, Buckingham Palace is not only a tourist destination but also an administrative and ceremonial estate for the UK government. According to Royal.uk, the palace contains 19 state rooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, 78 bathrooms, and is visited by some 50,000 people every year.

    Buckingham was originally a mulberry plantation belonging to King James I. It later came into possession of John Sheffield, the Duke of Buckingham, in 1698. The Duke demolished the existing house on the property and built "Buckingham House," and that in turn was acquired by King George III in 1762. His son, George IV, began renovating the house into a palace, and later monarchs continued its expansion into the 20th and even 21st centuries.

    2,301 votes
  • Burg Eltz is not only a historical site but also inhabited by the same family that was first deeded the castle in 1157 AD. Located in Wierschem, Germany, the Eltz family has lived on the estate for more than 860 years.

    A survivor of the Thirty Years' War, possessing 80 rooms, and said to be haunted by ghostly medieval knights, Burg Eltz looks much like it did in the 16th century. 

    1,490 votes
  • Beijing's imperial palace was first occupied by the court of the Ming dynasty in 1420. The 178-acre compound is now a museum for China's art and history. 

    The palace was known as the "Forbidden City" because most Chinese subjects were once forbidden to enter the complex. Even members of the government and imperial family enjoyed only limited access.

    According to the Encyclopedia Britannica

    The architecture of the walled complex adheres rigidly to the traditional Chinese geomantic practice of feng shui. The orientation of the Forbidden City, and for that matter all of Beijing, follows a north-south line. Within the compound, all the most important buildings, especially those along the main axis, face south to honor the Sun. 

    1,001 votes
  • Resembling a French chateau, Dunrobin belongs to the Dukes of Sutherland. It was first established in the 14th century, and is "one of the oldest continuously inhabited houses" in the United Kingdom.

    During the 20th century, it was used as a naval hospital during the first World War, and then later as a boys' boarding school from 1965-1972.

    719 votes