A lot of guide books present Prague Castle as the largest castle in the world. England claims the record for Windsor Castle and Wikipedia declares Malbork the winner. So where is the truth?
The first question is, what the word largest mean. A floor area was probably measured in Windsor and Prague, but it doesn't make sense for Malbork or any other castle that is not so well preserved. Moreover I have not detailed blueprints of all large castles, so I can't compare the floor area. That's why I picked another method.
I've outlined an area enclosed by castle walls of nine castles in Google Maps. Here is the user map with all nine shapes. Then I've used the KML Area Calculator to calculate the size. And this is the top five list:
- Malbork (Poland) -- Frommers claims nearly 52 acres (210,437 square metres). Polish Wikipedia states a cubic capacity of 250,000 m3 and no area, what is rather strange. The area drawn by me is 143,591 square metres large -- enough to declare Malbork the largest castle of the world.
- Prague Castle (Czech Republic) is the largest castle in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Sources varies between 72,762 and 74,100 square metres (17.98 and 18.31 acres). The result of my calculation is only 66,761 square metres.
- Burghausen (Germany) is a surprising number 3. With its length of 1,034 metres it is widely known to be the longest European castle, but its area is not so small as well -- according to my calculation it totals 56,810 square metres, what is almost 2,000 metres more than Windsor Castle.
- Windsor Castle (England, UK) is considered the largest inhabited castle in the world by many sources. Its floor area is approximately 484,000 square feet (44,965 square metres) according to Wikipedia. Another sources claim 13 acres (52,609 square metres), what is closer to my finding: 54,835 square metres. And because Prague castle is inhabited as well, Windsor is hardly the largest one.
- Festung Hohensalzburg or Salzburg Castle (Austria) is with a length of 250 metres and a width of 150 metres definitely one of the biggest medieval castles in Europe, but my calculation shows it is not the largest one. Its area has 54,523 square metres.
I'm including another four castles just for reference. They are not serious competitors except Moscow Kremlin, which is usually not considered a real castle though.
- Spišský hrad (Slovakia) -- Slovaks often claim Spissky Hrad is one of the biggest castles in Central Europe, so I've checked it out too. The result is 49,485 square metres and the number 6 in my list.
- Himeji Castle (Japan) -- can't be Asian castles bigger than European ones? I've outlined the area of the largest Japanes castle Himeji and it has 41,468 square metres only.
- Kenilworth Castle (England, UK) was one of the candidates too, but its 32,673 square metres can't compete with another ones.
- Moscow Kremlin (Russia) is included just for comparison, because it is rather a citadel than a castle, however its size is definitely huge -- 269,568 square metres, almost twice as large as Malbork and five times larger than Windsor Castle.
And finally the top five castles' shapes -- all in the same scale for easier comparison and linking to the particular place on Google Maps. If you want to check out the real location of the walls, I recommend to switch the map view to Satellite.
Area: 143,591 sq. m
Perimeter: 1,737 m
Area: 66,761 sq. m
Perimeter: 1,633 m
Area: 56,810 sq. m
Perimeter: 2,481 m
Area: 54,835 sq. m
Perimeter: 1,371 m
Area: 54,523 sq. m
Perimeter: 1,595 m
Area: 269,568 sq. m
Perimeter: 2,517 m