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Top 10 castles and palaces in the world

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Whether you want to stay in a Quebec palace or act out fairytale fantasies in the Bavarian Alps, read this guide to the top 10 castles and palaces in the world before booking your next hotel.

Great Scots at Edinburgh Castle

Medieval Edinburgh Castle is everything a castle should be - formidable, fortified and strategically placed on a rock overlooking the whole city. The grey-stone stronghold harbours the twinkling Scottish crown jewels and 550-year-old cannon Mons Meg. Arrive at 1 p.m. when the Royal Artillery fires One O'Clock Gun.

Schloss Neuschwanstein

Disney took inspiration for his Sleeping Beauty castle from 'Mad' King Ludwig's Schloss Neuschwanstein. High in the Bavarian Alps, this turreted 19th-century palace is storybook stuff with its chandelier-lit throne room, grotto and flamboyant chambers. Get the best castle snapshots from Marienbrücke bridge.

Maharaja bling at Mysore Palace

No surface is left untouched at Mysore Palace in southern India, comprising a riot of pink marble domes, mosaics and stained-glass ceilings. Follow in maharajas' footsteps exploring the gilded marriage hall and the Doll's Pavillion, home to a solid-gold elephant howdah (carriage). Arrive at dusk to see the palace lit by 97,000 bulbs.

The Moorish Alhambra Palace, Granada

Silhouetted against the Sierra Nevada mountains, Granada's fortress-city Alhambra Palace was built high and mighty by the Moors in the 14th century. The artisans outdid themselves in the Golden Room, an ingenious work of lace-fine stucco, geometric mosaics and intricate cedarwood. Allow time to stroll the fountain-dotted Generalife gardens.

An Emerald Buddha at Bangkok Grand Palace

The chanting of Buddhist monks rises above bell-shaped golden stupas (sacred mound-like structures) at Bangkok's mighty Grand Palace, the former royal residence. Dress appropriately to visit the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, home to Thailand's most sacred Buddha image carved in jade - the king personally changes its robes each season.

Sleeping in the beauty of Château Frontenac, Quebec City

Perched above Quebec Old Town and the St Lawrence River, turreted Château Frontenac is a redbrick Art Nouveau fantasy. Stay in a regal room for the full-on castle effect. Non-guests can dine on French cuisine or take high tea in the beamed Le Chaplain restaurant.

Imperial mysteries at Beijing Forbidden City

Step through the brass-studded gates of Beijing's flame-red Forbidden City and back to the age of omnipotent Chinese emperors and mighty dynasties. Off-limits for 500 years, the complex covers a staggering 720,000 square metres and contains around 9,000 rooms. An audio guide gives valuable insight in the ornate pavilions and echoing courtyards.

Pomp and circumstance at Château de Versailles

Imagine what you could create with 40,000 of France's top 17th-century artists at your disposal. Louis XIV did and built Paris' opulent Château de Versailles. The scale is overwhelming, so target highlights like the frescoed Hercules Salon, the chandelier-lit Hall of Mirrors and the manicured formal gardens.

California dreaming at Hearst Castle

Newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst's exuberant playground, Hearst Castle or 'Enchanted Hill' sits prettily above the Pacific. Charlie Chaplin and Cary Grant are among the luminaries that have admired the castle's zoo, antique-filled rooms and Roman-style Neptune Pool.

Dracula tales at Bran Castle, Romanias

Rising like a vision above the Transylvanian woods, Bran Castle is steeped in gory Dracula legends. Whether the castle inspired Bram Stocker is unknown, but there's certainly an air of mystery about this 14th-century clifftop fortress close to Brasov, Romania.