And if she asks you why,
You can tell her that I told you
That I'm tired of castles in the air.
— Don Mclean, "Castles in the Air"
It's absolutely fine for a character to own a castle, especially if they have delusions of royalty, but some take it too far
. This isn't just a large castle. This thing is absolutely ENORMOUS
and usually sprawls hundreds of acres and is filled with traps, guards, Secret Passages
, hidden rooms, Elite Mooks
and at least one throne room in the center. Bonus points for a moat made of lava
, or if it's floating in the sky
. Or both.
Getting lost within one of those things, now THAT would suck
. Sometimes these things are near impossible to navigate without a dungeon map. Made worse if the castle starts shifting around on its own
These are often the lairs
of the Big Bad
, but heroes often have Big Fancy Castles
of their own especially if they're royalty
A subtrope of Big Labyrinthine Building
. Compare to Big Fancy House
. See also Bright Castle
. If the size and elegance of the castle are a symbol of the owner's Hubris
, see The Tower
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Anime & Manga
- In Soul Eater, the DWMA. It stands above the rest of Death City, and is specifically designed to be confusing underground, to train its young meisters to remember where they go and the way out. It's Played for Laughs in Soul Eater Not!, where Tsugumi, Meme, and Anya get lost for hours.
- In Pokémon, Team Galactic owns a large skyscraper in the middle of a large city. It towers above every other building in that city and probably in the entire nation.
- The Castle of Cagliostro.
- Beauty and the Beast
it presently became easier, and led him into an avenue of trees which ended in a splendid castle. It seemed to the merchant very strange that no snow had fallen in the avenue, which was entirely composed of orange trees, covered with flowers and fruit. When he reached the first court of the castle he saw before him a flight of agate steps, and went up them, and passed through several splendidly furnished rooms.
- The Singing, Springing Lark
Then his road lay through a forest, and in the midst of it was a splendid castle, and near the castle stood a tree, but quite on the top of the tree, he saw a singing, soaring lark.
- The Twelve Dancing Princesses
On the opposite side of the lake stood a splendid, brightly-lit castle, from whence resounded the joyous music of trumpets and kettle-drums
- The Summer and Winter Garden
The black beast carried the beautiful maiden to his castle where everything was beautiful and wonderful. Musicians were playing there, and below there was the garden, half summer and half winter,
- East of the Sun and West of the Moon
they went into a castle where there were many brilliantly lighted rooms which shone with gold and silver, likewise a large hall in which there was a well-spread table, and it was so magnificent that it would be hard to make anyone understand how splendid it was.
- Soria Moria Castle has three magnificent castles, all containing no one but the princesses, because trolls live there.
Films — Animation
- The Sultan's palace in Disney's Aladdin is easily the biggest building in Agrabah by far.
- Vector's fortress in Despicable Me includes the pyramid of Giza in the backyard for gods sakes!
- In Tangled, Flynn is quite taken with the kingdom's enormous castle, and talks of having his own from the proceeds. So he does, so to speak, at the end. Or, at least, he's married to the heir to the castle he was in.
Films — Live-Action
- Asgard's golden palace in Thor is enormous.
- The title sprawling castle in the Gormenghast series.
- The Imperial Palace from the Star Wars Expanded Universe is this. It's the tallest building on Coruscant, stated as being three kilometers high and over two square kilometers large, with over two thousand rooms. Outside of it is a large statue of The Emperor.
- Hogwarts from Harry Potter is a thousand year-old Big Fancy Castle with large grounds, trap doors, and at least seven stories (not including dungeons).
- Septimus Heap: The Palace is described as having a walkway that is one-and-a-half miles long, and has several secret rooms and shortcuts.
- Multiple cases in A Song of Ice and Fire. Particularly notable examples include the Red Keep, Winterfell, and Harrenhal, the last of which turns out to be too large to be practically defensible and requires a large permanent population just to keep heated properly.
- Several of the Vor have this in Vorkosigan Saga. In a subversion the Vorkosigans don't; their castle was destroyed in the Cetagandan invasion. Vorkosigan House is however a secure residence so in a way it might fit the technical meaning of castle even if it's protections are more modernized in style.
- Lancre Castle from Discworld is -in typical Pratchettean idiom- what you get when the architect wants to build one of these, but hasn't quite got the budget or the floorspace. Its got all the crenellations and turrets, but they are either all too small or so architecturally unsound that bits fall off in high winds. They did quite well with the dungeons though.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- Ed Greenwood's Dragon magazine #76 article "The Nine Hells Part II''. The 7th plane of the Nine Hells holds Baalzebul's great fortress Malagard, which sprawls for many miles. Malagard's rooms, passages, and dungeons are so numerous that it is said not even Baalzebul himself has visited all of them.
- Speaking of Ed Greenwood, The Palace of the Purple Dragon in Suzail is a house for Obarskyrs and three more royal-blood families. Of course, it's also full of courtiers, servants, guards and so on. Known to have hidden passages, towers and whatnot as it's pretty overgrown. So much that the Blue Maiden Room on top of a tower lost in the middle of it became proverbial in the city... as the place where palace guard captains post underlings who annoy them.
- Castle Ravenloft
- Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Castle Drachenfels, one of the most dangerous places in the First Edition.
- Warhammer 40,000: The Emperor's palace covers most of Europe, because the setting has no concept of "over the top".
- Champions supplement "The Blood and Dr. McQuark". Azor's palace is described as being large and sprawling.
- Bowser's castle in the Super Mario Bros. series varies from game to game, but it often counts as one of these. In various incarnations it has included seas of lava, giant pinball machines, dungeons, and even a tennis court?!?!?!
- Princess Peach tends to get one of these of her own. The entire plot of Super Mario 64 was Mario kicking Bowser out of her castle.
- Averted with Luigi's Mansion. While it is quite extravagant, it is still fairly reasonable for a mansion (magic room with the moon not withstanding)
- The Game Boy series Super Mario Land has Wario taking over Mario's castle in which Mario has to reclaim it in the sequel Wario Land it's possible for Wario to get one of these in the multiple endings (though it's not the best ending as getting a perfect game nets you a planet) and the sequel Wario Land II opens and even has some chapters set in Wario's castle though the outside is much better looking than the inside.
- Each world in Yoshi's Island and its DS sequel ends with one of these.
- Paper Mario has many examples:
- Tubba Blubba's mountainside house, sure it's mostly vertical, but it still counts, then there's of course Peach's castle, and Bowser's castle underneath that.
- Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has Hooktail's castle, and the last dungeon in the game is one big Underground Level but for some reason includes a tower and a castle.
- Count Bleck's fortress. You know you have one of these on your hands when it takes the heroes an 8th of the entire game to reach the end, before that is Chapter 3 with nerrrrrrrrrrr Francis' house which for some reason, is a castle as well.
- The home bases in Suikoden games are often castles large enough to house 108 main characters and various random bystanders. By the time you get most of your cast together, the player can spend a good half hour just visiting every room in the base and checking in with all the people.
- The Maharajah's castle from Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Let's see... it has the throne room, the treasure vaults, the trap-activating puzzle chamber, the zoo, the harem, the baths, the other baths, the ginormous tower (aka the other treasure vaults), the observatory, the random huge underground tomb...Somewhat justifed, though, in that it's a platforming game, and thus needs room to jump around.
- The eponymous castle from Castlevania. Sure, the Dark Lord's stronghold may be Chaos Architecture that always reappears as a Haunted Castle, but that doesn't stop it from including a multitude of rooms such as laboratories, lavish throne rooms, elegant personal quarters, and a Gothic-styled chapel. Countess Elizabeth Bartley's Castle Proserpina in England and Celia's replica of Dracula's Castle in Dawn of Sorrow also qualify.
- The Labyrinth of the Castle from Sonic Labyrinth is a rare Sonic example of this trope.
- The eponymous castle in Return to Castle Wolfenstein.
- Hyrule Castle in many forms but most notably in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
- Pokémon Black and White has the castle of Team Plasma. It rises out of the ground to encircle the entire Pokemon League (while also being a good three times taller), features a decorative waterfall on every floor and has a throne room at the top big enough to hold a battle involving the two legendary dragon mascots.
- X and Y has the Parfum Palace, inspired by the real life Palace of Versailles. To say the least, it is absolutely gorgeous.
- Linda's Castle from Snowboard Kids 2 is a castle so big that it serves as a level in a snowboarding game.
- CloudRunner Fortress from Star Fox Adventures. It even has Magitek and a freaking gold mine underneath it!
- At least in the original series, Mega Man's foe Dr. Wily gets a new one every game—sometimes two. For some reason, they always have a giant skull on the front, usually with towers/minarets that look like bones. Besides that, there's usually giant laser turrets, random bits of architecture, and science-tubes.
- Anor Londo in Dark Souls is basically a whole city built based on this concept.
- Lazulis Castle in The Last Story, the biggest building on Lazulis Island. It even has its own Magitek Cannon!
- Fatal Fury: Wolfgang Krauser's Mittelbirge Castle. More of its confines are shown in Fatal Fury 2 and Fatal Fury Special, although the canalside stadium that serves as the backdrop for the Boss Team in KOF '96 presumably is situated in/near the Stroheim family's palace.
- Real Life examples (such as the page image's Neuschwanstein) appear as Wonders in the Civilization series.
- In Tales of the Questor, during the "Night Terrors" story arc, Quentyn describes the Wizard's colledge thus:
Quentyn: "It's housed in the oldest building in the Sevenvillages... and old rebuilt castle predating even the first settlers here. Every generation of students has added a little bit to the old thing — a turret here, a tower there, a flying buttress or causeway out back. By now it looks like a berserk wedding cake. They say it has over a thousand rooms and nearly five miles of corridors, or some ridiculously huge number like that. If you stick to the main hallways and follow the signs, though, you're supposed to be able to get around without any problem. So, naturally, I got completely lost in minutes.
- The artificers guild on the other hand is just two round three story buildings joined by a long two story segment which houses the dormitories and cafeteria. It's nickname is the dogbone.
- Castle Heterodyne, in Girl Genius, fits this trope. It's huge, its systems extend out into the surrounding city (the streetlamps in the city are part of the Castle's anti-aircraft defense battery), it's full of traps, it can rearrange itself, and on top of all that, it's conscious, sentient and sapient. And completely insane, since it was first given the personality of its original builder, a psychotic, homicidal megalomaniac; then later had its operating system broken into at least twelve different parts, none of which can talk to each other. Its corridors are patrolled by "The happy fun ball of death" rolling faster than walking speed... and its full route is still a week long.
- Brian and Angelo's Castle in Our Little Adventure looks pretty pimped out.
- Castle: See the title.
- Justified in real life as most of these palaces also double as the central administrative offices for running the Kingdom/Empire, most of the rooms would have been used as office space or occupied by live-in bureaucrats (think West Wing). The castles only feel empty nowadays because all of the administrators have moved out.
- Krak des Chevaliers in Syria. Except that it was not a palace, but a military fort manned by Knights Hospitaller.
- The Forbidden City complex in Beijing is said to be the largest palace on Earth. It is said that if a king is shown one room every day from the time he is born, he will be over 21 before he sees every room of the palace.
- This would mean that there's around 7670 rooms, depending on how the leap years fall. The actual number is around 8900 (a room in Chinese architecture is defined as the space between 4 pillars, so one large contiguous hall would be counted as multiple "rooms" by Chinese reckoning).
- Mad King Ludwig's castle in Bavaria, Schloss Neuschwanstein. It was built because the King of Bavaria thought fairy tales were Serious Business and wanted to live them out in Real Life. Not so mad, actually, considering the fantasies of some kings.
- Eastern Europe seems to be fond of this trope.
- The Castle of Budapest actually takes up an entire district of the city and contains several buildings and streets, including houses, shops, market squares, restaurants, regular taverns, several parks, museums, a church, and even a hotel that doesn't exactly belong there. The other half is the royal palace.
- The Kremlin in Moscow, which, too, conceals an entire royal district of the city (the oldest part of Moscow, full of palaces, museums, gardens and churches) behind its walls, and still performs its intended function as the ruler's residence. It was also periodically upgraded for centuries, so the oldest parts of it are medieval and the youngest Soviet-built. The underground part is honeycomb of secret tunnels which aren't fully explored by archeologists (because the Federal Guard Service isn't particularly cooperative and understanding to them), and there's the throne room with a perpetually empty throne in the main palace.
- Bojnice and Orava in Slovakia.
- The castle in Kamenec Podolskiy, Ukraine.
- Prague Castle is, according to the Guinness Book of Records, the world's largest ancient castle.
- Winchester House
- Blenheim Palace
- Versailles could technically be the Trope Codifier. It led to a lot of Follow the Leader.
- The Palace of Whitehall in London was the largest palace in Europe during its occupation by the English monarchy (1530-1698) until it was destroyed by fire. It had over 1,500 rooms over 23 acres and, due to the fact it was built and expanded over many years, looked more like a small town than a single building.
- John of Gaunt's Savoy Palace was apparently this, seeing as he was the richest individual in England (aside from the king), until it was burnt down in 1381 by Wat Tyler's Peasant Rebellion.