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The word castle is derived from the latin word castrum, which was used by the ancient Romans to indicate buildings or plots of land designated for military use. Later, castle became the common term applied to any fortified residence.

When most Westerners hear the word castle, they usually envision a medieval stone castle. However, castles come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, styles, and building materials.

Castles also appear in various parts of the world outside of Europe. Japan in particular has a significant number of castles, and Himeji Castle is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful castles in the world. However, unlike most European castles, castles in Japan were constructed mostly of wood, so many have been destroyed over the years, often by fire.

Fortified residential structures in Russia called kremlin are also considered to be castles. The best known example of a Russian castle is the Moscow Kremlin, which currently servers as the headquarters for the Russian government.