These 8 Real Structures Inspired Disney Castles | Architectural Digest

You might know that many Disney films are based on fairytales. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs comes from the Brothers Grimm classic and Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault was the basis for the film of the same name. But a princess is nothing without her castle, so have you ever wondered what the architecture in Disney films is based on?

In AD’s latest Youtube video, Meredith Cohen, a medieval architecture historian, breaks down the palaces in six Disney princess movies, including classics like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty as well as newer films like Brave, Tangled, and Frozen. Below, take a look through these picturesque structures and don’t forget to check out the video for even more insights from Cohen. 

Álcazar of Segovia in Segovia, Spain. 

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Álcazar of Segovia 

Álcazar of Segovia, a medieval castle in Segovia, Spain, was the inspiration for the queen’s castle in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. According to Cohen, the animated version represents a good mix of factual accuracy and Disney magic. She points out the drawing’s small windows and stone facade as evidence of realistic elements, explaining these aspects were implemented in traditional castles to ensure unwanted guests wouldn’t get in. “They’re defensive structures,” Cohen says. However, the real castle has significantly fewer turrets. “The exaggeration of towers and turrets is something Disney has added to their castle to give it that more magical, fantasy-like feel,” she says. 

Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany. 

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Neuschwanstein Castle 

Neuschwanstein, a Bavarian castle commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, was the inspiration for King Stefan’s castle in Sleeping Beauty. However, like the queen’s castle in Snow White, Disney added a few elements to create a more mystical feel. 

Cohen explains that many of the features on King Stefan’s palace point to different eras: There are Renaissance, Gothic, and Scandinavian turrets in addition to gothic pointed arches. While King Stefan’s castle is somewhat of a mixed bag in terms of time period accuracy, it did serve as a prototype for future Disney castles. In fact, the king’s castle, in addition to Cinderella’s, were the inspiration for the Disney logo. 

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