Built in the late 1800s, the Neuschwanstein Castle in the state of Bavaria in southeast Germany was meant to be the private retreat of the reclusive King Ludwig II of Bavaria, but he died before it was completed. The castle was opened to the public in 1886 and it has seen over 60 million visitors since then. The Neuschwanstein Castle was built in the Romanesque Revival style and was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle. The castle is one of the most popular in Europe and currently sees over 1.3 million visitors a year and as many as 6,000 per day in the summer months. The castle overlooks the Hohenschwangau valley and is near the tourist town of Fussen where accommodation can be found.
The ancient Mayan city of Tikal, located in present-day Guatemala, has structures that date as far back as 400 BCE, though most of the structures were built in the Late Classic Period (600 – 900 CE). One of the largest urban centers of the pre-Colombian Mayan civilization, the city was at its peak at around 700 CE. Tikal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the ruins include five large pyramid temples, a large palace, small pyramids, tombs, and numerous other buildings with a grand total of 3,000 structures. The University of Pennsylvania and the government of Guatemala have contributed to the restorations done on the site in recent years. Travelers can find a variety of accommodations in the nearby cities of Flores and Guatemala City. Fans of the original Star Wars films may know Tikal as the “Massassi Outpost on the fourth moon of Yavin” from Episode IV: A New Hope.