I really should give these articles a title. Something like “James McPhail Writes…” – But enough of that. I will come up with something at a later stage. In the meantime, I want to continue sharing some of my architecture passions, continuing now with Castles.
Soaring medieval keeps, formidable stone bulwarks, regal mansion homes and romantic palaces that ooze with opulence, castles not only vary in appearance but also in character as well. Furthermore, these elegant constructions also display some of the most awe-inspiring architectural achievements in the world. Though the military origin and significance of most of these castles are highly emphasized in castle studies, it is worth mentioning that most of these monuments also serve as symbols of power and centres of administration. With that said, let us look at some of the most amazing castles in the world.
Barney Castle is undeniably one of the most visited sites in Ireland. Moreover, it is also one of the best examples of the country’s most pristine medieval fortification. Standing formidable and stark at the centre of Blarney grounds, the shoulders of the great Barney Castles soar past the nearby oak tree canopy, while casting their shadows over the extremely mysterious rock formations of the Witch’s cave and Druid’s Circle.
Blarney’s greatest pull comes from its uppermost defensive wall, where the mythical Blarney Stone hangs rather awkwardly.
Citadel of Aleppo
On top of a 50 meters high hill, in Aleppo, Syria is the Citadel of Aleppo. The use of the 50 m hill, dates back to the 3rd millennium, when the temple of Haddad (an ancient storm god), stood there.Throughout the years, the hill has been specifically used for fortification purposes, especially during the reign of one Seleucus I Nicator. During the 7th century, it is believed that the residents of Aleppo took refuge in the castle, after the walls of the city, began to come down.
In the year 636 AD, Citadel of Aleppo was seized by Muslim military troops and several years down the line, repairs were done on the castle after the surrounding area was hit by a major earthquake. In the year 944, Muslim troops once again seized the city of Aleppo, including the castle and converted it, into their headquarters. 20 years later after Muslims took over Aleppo, the city was attacked by the Byzantines, who destroyed a bigger part of the city.
Situated at the centre of Cardiff City Center, this amazing fortification including its manor houses is one of Wale’s, most defining monuments. Within the new outer walls, the original moat and keep can easily be spotted towards the castle’s northern end. Subsequent additions within the 15th and 16th centuries, brought to life, the lodging rooms that now cluster the south and west gates.
Built in the year, AD55, the Cardiff Castle was at first a rectangular structure, that was much larger than the present day structure. The rectangular castle was part of the Roman border in Wales. When the border became more advanced, the different form of defenses became less important and thus the fort was replaced with two smaller fortifications located on north side of the castle’s current site.
With a history that spans more than 800 years, the Heidelberg Castle is an ancient castle nestled between the hills of Baden-Wurttemberg. The Heidelberg Castle is a combination of numerous buildings which surround an inner courtyard, with each of the building highlighting a different phase of German architecture.
Though the construction of the castle officially began during the 1300’s, the castle officially became a regal residence, when Prince-Elector III came to power. In the year 1794, the castle was destroyed by lightning, which in turn made it permanently inhabitable.
Châteaux et Jardins
Ever since its construction officially began during the late Renaissance, this masterpiece has seen some of the most powerful names and towering figures pass through its hallways. Apart from being the home of the Le Breton family, the Chateaux et Jardins has also been the home of the French military leader and statesman, Napoleon Bonaparte.
Several years later, this elegant castle became the property of Jerome, the emperor’s brother. In the year 1906, the property was purchased by one Joachim Carvallo, who then went ahead to pour an enormous amount of money, time and devotion to not only repair the castle but also create its breathtaking gardens.
Regarded as one of the most romantic castles in the world, the world famous Neuschwanstein castle was built by Ludwig II in the 19th century, in honour of one Richard Wagner. Instead of using Bavarian funds, Ludwig used money from his own personal collection to build the fortress.
Initially, the Neuschwanstein was intended to become the home of the king. However, after his sudden death in the year 1886, the castle was open to the public. Ever since then, more than 61 million people have visited the castle.
Found midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the magnificent Hearst Castle is located on top of the breathtaking Santa Lucia mountain, which overlooks the beautiful blue sea. Apart from sporting Romanesque pools, this great Mediterranean architecture complex also features majestic living spaces and neo-classical halls.
The Hearst Castle is a world famous tourist attraction as it gives visitors a glimpse of the American High society of the 1960’s and also an adulterated view of the ocean. At one point in time, the Hearst castle was home to William Hearst, who later gave the castle to the State of California, opening the grand rooms and grounds to tourists and guests from all corners of the world.
Fairmont Le Chateau
Fairmont Le Chateau remains one of the most sensational sights in North America. Towering high above Quebec City, Fairmont Le Chateau is made up of fairy tale spires, an amalgamation of gothic turrets and fascinating buildings. Ever since its construction in the early 19th century, Fairmont Le Chateau has remained true to its purpose, serving visitors and travellers with grand accommodation.
Due to this reason, Moreover, Fairmont Le Chateau has also been featured in top grossing films such as Hitchcock. In the year 2011, Fairmont Le Chateau was sold to a company known as Legacy Reit, at a cost of $185 million dollars.
The awe-inspiring Kilkenny Castle was built in the year 1185, to control a fording point on the Irish river, Noir. Apart from guarding the Irish river, the elegant Kilkenny Castle is also a symbol of Norman occupation and architecture. The extensive woodland paths, the gardens, ornamental lake and the rose garden, all create a beautiful setting for an evening stroll.
The castle, as well as its grounds, are now managed by the Public Works office, who made both the Castle lands and the gardens open to the general public.
Mont St. Michel
Located in the mesmerizing bay, where Brittany and Normandy merge, Mont St. Michel is one of the most famous castles in the world, attracting more than three million visitors each year. For such a long time, Mont St. Michel has inspired both imagination and awe.
Apart from serving as a strategic fortress, Mont St. Michel has also been used as a prison and a place of pilgrimage. During high tides, Mont. St. Michael was completely surrounded by water, thereby restricting access to the island and the castle, however, as time went by a permanent route was constructed.
So there we have it – hopefully you will agree that these are some stunning buildings around the globe and that these deserve a mention.
Until next time,