Medieval Castles: Most Extravagant in History
Despite the Middle Ages also being known as the Dark Ages, a time following the fall of the Roman Empire linked with a general decline, some lovely artefacts, like medieval castles, have endured through the ages. These medieval castles are timeless.
These fortresses can be found all over Europe, each with its own distinctive characteristics. Given that many were used as retreats by kings and nobility, mediaeval castles had to be both practical, sturdy, and attractive. Some were built on top of mountains, others appeared to float over water, and some were almost buried by the leafy canopy of trees. While some of Europe’s mediaeval castles are well-known and iconic, others are less well-known.
Eltz Castle of Germany: Medieval castles
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With many landscape photographers opting to capture it during the gloomy hours of the day, Eltz Castle has progressively risen to the top of the most photographed castles on Instagram. The castle’s location on a hill, encircled by a dense forest, adds to the eerie atmosphere. It is tucked away in Rhineland-Palatine, the Moselle wine area famous for Riesling wine, and it feels like a world apart because of that.
Eltz Castle, like many other mediaeval castles, has experienced its fair share of conflict but has remained intact throughout the ages. It’s interesting to note that the Eltz Family still owns the castle.
Eilean Donan of Scotland: Medieval castles
One of the most recognizable mediaeval castles, Eilean Donan, is probably known to practically everyone. Due in part to its appearance in the 1986 movie Highlander, but also because it is one of the Western Highlands of Scotland’s must-see locations. On an island between three sea lochs, Loch Duich, Loch Long, and Loch Alsh, is this highland treasure.
It was founded in the 13th century and served as a stronghold for the Clan Mackenzie. Regrettably, the ancient castle was destroyed during the Jacobite rebellions in the 18th century, and it was rebuilt in the 20th.
The Edinburgh Castle of Scotland
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The Edinburgh Castle is another stunning Scottish landmark. It looks over Scotland’s capital from atop Castle Rock. Unsurprising, given that the majority of mediaeval castles were situated in advantageous areas; the trick was to be able to watch the adversary while remaining out of reach.
Edinburgh Castle was not spared by a turbulent past because of the conflicts between England and Scotland. The castle went through multiple Scottish and English ownership changes during the First and Second Wars of Scottish Independence.
Even today, people still flock to the city to see Edinburgh Castle, where they may partake in a number of activities and guided tours. If none of that appeals to you, why not just take in the breath-taking scenery?
Bran Castle of Romania: Medieval castles
Romania must be mentioned when discussing mediaeval castles. Most people’s first thoughts will likely be of Dracula and Transylvania. There are no known direct connections between Bran Castle in Central Romania and the persona created by Bram Stoker, despite popular belief to the contrary.
The castle itself first appeared in records in 1377, but it is built on top of a mediaeval Teutonic Knights fortress that dates to the early 13th century.
The castle rises out amongst the surrounding forests at a height of about 2500 feet above sea level. With numerous towers and turrets, it exudes mystery as it views over the lovely village of Bran.
Today, visitors to the castle can meander along the steep stairs that lead to 60 rooms with timbered ceilings.
Kilkenny Castle of Ireland
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In the second part of the 12th century, Kilkenny Castle, an iconic Anglo-Norman stone fortress in Ireland, was originally a wooden fort. The castle has undergone numerous renovations over the years and continues to contain features of different architectural styles, primarily Gothic Revival.
In the past, it was situated at a key strategic location that controlled the River Nore crossing. Nowadays, tourists may leisurely appreciate and take in the castle as it is surrounded by large gardens with well-kept lawns. The interiors of the castle are also open for tours, allowing guests to fully experience the majesty of history.
Mont-Saint-Michel Bay of France: Medieval castles
The French bay of Mont-Saint-Michel is one of the most magnificent spots on earth. Awe-inspiring and singular is the island that separates Normandy and Brittany. Anyone would find it impossible to dispute its grandeur, despite the fact that it isn’t officially a castle.
The island’s summit is occupied by a mediaeval monastery that has long drawn tourists. According to mythology, Bishop Aubert of a nearby town was given the go-ahead to construct a church on top of the island by Archangel Michael himself. The late 10th century saw the beginning of Benedictine abbey construction.
The environment around the island is always changing due to how swiftly the bay’s tides can recede and reveal a completely different scene.
Windsor Castle of England: Medieval castles
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Windsor Castle in England, which served as the residence of British royalty for centuries, is arguably one of the most well-known castles in all of Europe. This Berkshire palace has been used by the ruling monarch continuously since Henry I ruled England in the 12th century, making it the European palace with the longest continuous occupancy.
13 acres of land surround the castle, which has a fortification, a palace, and a small hamlet. The castle now has Gothic elements and a Georgian and Victorian style that is based on a mediaeval building. The castle is filled with impressive and renowned works of art, as one would anticipate in any royal residence.
Castel del Monte of Southern Italy: Medieval castles
Unsurprisingly, when most people see mediaeval castles, they picture angular towers rising above treetops. A notable exception is Castle del Monte in Southern Italy, however not all meet this criteria.
Emperor Frederick II constructed the Apulia region’s castle in the thirteenth century. Elements from ancient antiquity, the Islamic East, and north European Cistercian Gothic can be found on the austere and fortress-like octagon façade. The castle itself has not undergone any substantial structural alterations, and it is perched on a steep peak in a remote woodland.
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