The Awesome Impact of European Medieval Castles on Modern Architecture

The Awesome Impact of European Medieval Castles on Modern Architecture

The medieval era is often referred to as the dark ages, and while that makes sense in a few regards, it’s unfair in many others. The middle ages had their own art, music, literature, architecture and can be held largely responsible for some of Europe’s most beautiful vistas. The following will explore a few of the wonderful elements that European castles have contributed to modern architecture.

The Awesome Impact of European Medieval Castles on Modern Architecture

Of course, when digging into the origins of any element of culture or engineering, there is lots of space for interpretation and misinterpretation. Sometimes the first evidence we in the modern era have of something is not the first instance of that thing, but merely the earliest one to have lasted all these years. Further, architects in all eras have been inspired by practicality, trends, and the past. This means that many elements of medieval castles have been drawn from earlier eras and a wide variety of cultures by the craftspeople working on the castle.

Spiral Staircases

There’s something extra mystical about a winding, stone staircase. Suddenly, you don’t feel like you’re in the modern era anymore but are lost in a fantasy realm or romantic castle—it’s as if when you get to the top, you’re in a whole new world. The spiral staircase wasn’t exclusive to medieval castles in Europe, but when made of stone, they’ve come to be associated with them. Extra medieval vibes can be cultivated with vines, medieval-inspired tapestries, or detailed floral wallpaper. 

Grand Central Rooms

Typically, in a castle, this would be called the great hall, but in a modern home, it gets all sorts of names. This is the room for dining and entertaining guests, listening to music, having a good conversation, and sharing a cozy seat by the fire. Follow along with any castle guide, and you’ll find endless inspiration for the central gathering room of your home, including table settings, magical lighting suggestions, and classic tapestry decor ideas. Thick, cozy rugs, large fireplaces with imposing paintings hanging over them, sculptures, social games like chess, and embroidered sofas can all contribute to the great hall feeling in modern architecture.

European Medieval Castles

Sweeping Views

Castles tended to be built on high ground for defensive purposes. It was far harder to lose a castle if those attacking had to force their way up the hill. While modern homes aren’t likely to be under attack, a home built upon a hill results in a stellar view. When you pay attention to the world’s most luxurious homes for sale, this is one feature that many of them have in common. Sweeping views allow homeowners to enjoy the glory of nature, sunrises, sunsets, and storms from the safety and comfort of their own homes.

Extensive Grounds

Back in the middle ages, castles tended to have large bailey’s and extended grounds so that those who lived within the castle could hunt for pleasure or sustenance, train, exercise their horses, drill soldiers, and grow and harvest food. Extensive grounds with fountains, gardens and other attractions are another luxury element in many modern homes that can trace their inspiration back to medieval times.

Additional Buildings

In many cases, castles were actually a combination of buildings within a defensive wall. This could include stables, blacksmith’s workshops, storage buildings, gatehouses, keeps, towers, and many more. Homes inspired by castles today still maintain the feeling by having several buildings scattered across the property. Of course, they’re not likely to be housing blacksmiths but can be used as garages or guest houses.


Turrets have a particularly magical feeling and instantly draw a viewer’s mind to the middle ages. In modern homes, turrets can hold regular rooms like bedrooms and bathrooms, but they can also be designated for hobbies like astronomy and painting that benefit from an unobstructed view. Rounded rooms are beautiful, but they do require a hint of design finesse as, in many cases, modern furniture is designed to sit against flat walls, not curved ones. You might need to take a little extra time to track down pieces if you’ve got a rounded turret in your home.

Imposing Walls

Of course, one of the quintessential elements of a castle is big, stone walls. Nowadays, these walls aren’t primarily for defence (though they can help deter crime like theft); they’re mostly for privacy and aesthetics. Consider planting vines alone stone perimeter walls for a picturesque, fairy-tale vibe.

The above list is only the beginning. Castles were intricate constructions that went through many stylistic phases throughout the middle ages and beyond. If you’re thinking about some medieval inspiration for your home, take your time to flip through history books, fantasy artwork, and online photographs of castles.

Wojciech Kuźma

Hey there! My name is Wojtek and I am very happy that you came to my travel blog. I've been traveling the world for a few good years now and I still want more.

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