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Seven Disney castles that really exist

Published on September 6, 2016, by in Animation, Filmmaking.

Disney castles are what dreams are made of. But who said that dreams can’t come true? These seven castles in Disney movies were inspired from real castles & monuments across the globe.

Castle DunBroch (Brave) – Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland

Castle DunBroch was at the heart of Disney’s Brave. Story artist, Louis Gonzales wanted to create an earthy & solid castle, unlike the usual prim & proper, Cinderella-like castles. Eilean Donan Castle became the model for Merida’s home.

Disney castles in real life

Sleeping Beauty Castle – Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria

One of the most popular fairy tale structures, the Sleeping Beauty Castle is also the entrance design for Disneyland. But the real castle is in Bavaria. The Sleeping Beauty Castle was based on 19th century Neuschwanstein Castle. Looks like the castle was originally built for a fairy tale effect; it was inspired from the operas of Richard Wagner.

Disney castles in real life

The castle of Corona (Tangled) – Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France

Rapunzel’s real home is considered to be one of the most expensive Disney animations of all time. But the inspiration came from Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy (France). The movie created a whole town around the castle. But the real location is inhabited only by 40 people. Visitors walk to the castle during low tide and take the bridge during high tide; a unique feature that protected the castle from invasion throughout history.

Disney castles in real life

The Sultan’s palace (Aladdin) – Taj Mahal, Agra, India

We don’t have to look too far for this one. In order to maintain the eastern flavour of the story, the Sultan’s palace was modelled on our very own Taj Mahal. The monument also provided other references for the story. Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built by Shah Jahan in the memory of his deceased wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and this was referred to in the fact that the Sultan had lost his wife long back. Also, Agra is known for its monkey & tiger population, giving a fitting reason for the presence of Abu (Aladdin’s monkey) & Rajah (Jasmine’s tiger).

Disney castles in real life

Eric’s castle (The Little Mermaid) – Château De Chillon, Lake Geneva, Switzerland

Ariel’s home on land, Eric’s castle was based on Château De Chillon on Lake Geneva (Switzerland). The castle has also inspired Lord Byron’s poem The Prisoner of Chillon, and Henry James’ novella Daisy Miller.

Disney castles in real life

The Beast’s castle (Beauty & the Beast) – Château De Chambord, Loir-Et-Cher, France

A primary location in the story of Beauty & the Beast, the Beast’s castle is modelled on Château De Chambord at Loir-Et-Cher (France). Though there are many controversies about who was the original designer of the château, one of the versions attributes the royal architecture to Leonardo da Vinci. One of the many royal residents of the castle was Gaston, the Duke of Orléans. Ironic that Gaston in Beauty & the Beast also wanted to take over the castle.

Disney castles in real life

The Queen’s castle (Snow White) – Segovia Castle, Spain

Since this was to be the home of the Evil Queen, it comes as no surprise that the design was based on Segovia Castle in Spain that was originally built as a fortress but also served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery College, and a military academy.

Disney castles in real life

Bonus: The sky lantern scene (Tangled) – The Festival of Yi Peng, Thailand

We know this is not a castle. But the floating lights scene remains one of the most beautiful animated scenes. So it was only fair to look into the reality of this ritual. And if you ever want to be a part of this dreamy scene, just visit the festival of Yi Peng in Thailand.

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