They're the stuff of fairy tales, literally. Disney castles have captivated us since we were young with their promises of long, sweeping staircases, stunning panoramic views and epic architecture.
And thankfully these palaces and fortresses don't need to remain fantasies, as many of Disney's most famous castles were inspired by real life buildings. So why not take yourself for a trip to the enchanting homes of Snow White, Cinders or Belle?
Packing a tiara is mandatory.
The Little Mermaid
We always thought that of all the Disney castles, Prince Eric's home was the most fantastical. A castle? With its own private beach? Yes please. Turns out that it was actually based on the Chillon castle in Switzerland. We want to go to there.
The castle in Snow White is rumoured to be based on lots of different places. The most popular choice, however, is the Alcazar castle in Segovia in Spain, which is also thought to have inspired the castle in Cinderella. The building was originally erected as an Arab fort after the Romans invaded Spain. After Christian rule was re-established, it became a favourite place for the monarchy to live.
The all-white kingdom is quite possibly one of the most exquisite of all the Disney castles. You'll probably have guessed that the Sultan's palace in this 1992 Disney favourite was based on the Taj Mahal. While it is a very popular tourist attraction, that doesn't mean it isn't worth visiting.
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast is one of our favourite Disney movies, and so we got ridiculously overexcited by the fact that you can visit the very castle, the Château du Chambord, which the Beast's home is thought to be based on.
Fans of the film will know that initially the Beast's abode is less than welcoming to a frightened Belle. But upon breaking the spell that was placed on his house when he was a conceited prince, the Beast becomes human again and his house returns to its original beauty too.
Seeing as Princess Merida and her family are Scottish, it makes sense that their castle is based on an actual place in Scotland. Behold, the Dunnottar Castle, south of Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire. Originally, the team behind the animation were going to make it somewhere in the Highlands surrounded by a loch but instead they opted for this version.
One of the most recognisable Disney palaces is the one featured in Cinderella. While she doesn't actually live in it until she marries the prince, we get to see Cinders gaze longingly through her window at the building as she dreams of heading to the ball and meeting her Prince Charming. The real-life version is in the Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria, although other castles such as the Chateau de Chambord and the Alcazar (both featured above) are also thought to have influenced the design.
For those who haven't watched this contemporary animation, Tangled is based on the story of Rapunzel. A witch named Mother Gothel keeps Rapunzel in a tower and uses her magical hair to keep her looking youthful. Unaware that the King and Queen are looking for her, Rapunzel watches the kingdom from her tower and dreams of visiting. This beautiful castle was based on Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy France.
You might already be sick from hearing about this record-breaking movie (it's the sixth highest-grossing movie of all time), but it's worth knowing that the ice palace that the character Elsa constructs is actually based on a real-life place called Hotel de Glace, which can be found in Quebec, Canada. While it might seem an inhospitable environment to sleep in, you can actually stay there too. Just don't sing Let It Go repeatedly – other guests might not enjoy it as much as you.