Germany has many gorgeous castles, but the most storybook one has to be Neuschwanstein in Bavaria. Dubbed ‘the fairy-tale king,’ Ludwig II was so inspired by the mountain scenery that he wanted to create a romantic castle-like in the poetry of yore – and he succeeded. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t live to see the completely finished castle, because he was found dead in a lake under mysterious circumstances in 1886; the castle wasn’t mostly completed until 1892. Neuschwanstein seems to float above the surrounding countryside, and though the castle isn’t that high, it gives that impression because of its mountain perch, which also made the construction of the castle difficult. Its beauty, though, is unparalleled.
This intricately decorated Buddhist (originally Hindu) temple complex in Cambodia became an important pilgrimage site in the Middle Ages. Today, Angkor Wat is revered by those of all religions for the sophisticated construction its of five towers, bas reliefs (3D pictures sculpted into stone), and impressive size as the largest religious monument in the world. In addition, it looks like something out of an adventure movie, as the jungle reclaimed some of the ruins and became one with the architecture – huge trees seem to grow out of the stone itself. The entire Angkor area contains many temples worth exploring, but Angkor Wat is considered the best of the region and even appears on Cambodia’s flag.
St Basil's Cathedral
This vivid church looks like a candy confection with its bright colours, lively patterns, and swirling stripes on domes that look like icing on a cupcake. (They’re actually called onion-shaped domes, but we like cupcake icing better.) Completed in 1561 by Ivan IV, known as Ivan the Terrible, this Russian landmark in Moscow’s Red Square looks in some ways like a confusion of colours and shapes, but the unexpected whimsy of the design is also part of its appeal. The layout is surprisingly orderly, with eight chapels around a central church. Originally, the colour scheme may have been white with gold domes; the hues were added 100 years later, giving it a totally unique style.