Castles have always fascinated people, especially in modern times.

But they were really built for a good reason: Offence and Defence




Edinburgh Castle, Scotland. This castle is right in the middle of the town!

But which is the castle and which is the later palace?




Stirling Castle was a small fort in the 13th century when King Edward I attacked Scotland.

The English built on this key site, besieged 8 times, including successfully by William Wallace.

The English took it back and now it overlooks the Battle of Bannockburn, where they Scots scored

the greatest victory against the English under Robert the Bruce. Mary Queen of Scots was crowned here in 1542




Eilen Donan Castle in the Highlands was home to the Clan MacKenzie in the Middle Ages.

Highlander and James Bond The World is Not Enough were both filmed there.




Culzean Castle is a museum and a place for Scottish cultural festivals

 In the 1800s the Kennedy family famous in American history immigrated from the region near here




James Bond Skyfall was filmed at Duntrune, the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Britain.





Blarney Castle in Cork is a medieval fortress that, like many others, has inspired artwork




Towns grew up around castles like Dublin. From here the Crown Jewels of

Ireland were infamously stolen in 1907- they have never been recovered.




King John's Castle in County Limerick was built in the 13th century on the orders of King John of England to secure

the Norman claim to the area. A Viking settlement had been there for some time before.





Edwardian Harlech Castle 100 years ago and now. It was built to secure North Wales after its conquest in the 13th century




Chepstow Castle on the River Why was built to control the southernmost Welsh marche.

It is a powerful military machine and is also the oldest stone building in Britain, dating from 1067




Amazing Castle Canarvon is the scene of the official coronation of the kings and queens of England

Built on a Roman fort by the English in the 13th century, it was a Royalist headquarters during the English Civil War in 1688




Carnarvon Castle when it was in disrepair in the early-1800s, painted by Turner

Castles helped inspire the Romantic movement of the 19th century, when gothic was cool again




Ariel photo of Carnarvon showing the prosperous town around the old castle




Even larger is Conwy Castle, mightiest fortress in all of Britain. It was built at the same time to secure Wales.




How many parts of a castle can you identify here?




Penhryn Castle was a fortified manor house in the 1400s, with its distinctive towers, dungeon and game room





Warwick Castle was built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, and has been

used as a castle for over 600 years. On the River Avon, it was taken by French forces

under Henri of Anjou in the 12th century, and retaken later. Prisoners from the Battle

of Poitiers were stored there, and "Warwick the Kingmaker" locked up King Edward IV

there in the 15th century for a time.




Today you can have your wedding in Warwick's old Grand Hall, where kings and queens were entertained

by the courtiers and which used to contain a place for fires




Windsor Castle in London is the seat of the royal family- the king's castle

It is the longest occupied royal residence in Europe




St. George's Chapel (L) and the interior with noble heraldry banners and flags (R)




The Tower of London painted in the 14th century, and as it is today, nestled amongst modern London

Built by William the Conqueror and upgraded by Richard I the Lionheart and Edward I,

it was contested over many times when control of the country was in question.




During the Wars of the Roses in the 15th century, Lord Protector Richard Duke of York imprisoned

rival claimants to the throne in the tower. They were the children of Kind Edward IV, one of whom was technically

Edward V, but never ascended to the throne. Both died mysteriously. Today the Crown Jewels are kept in the Tower.




Bodiam Castle of the 14th century was built to be a perfect moat building in Sussex




Lincoln Castle holds the original Magna Carta of 1215, when King John signed

his willingness to share power with the Parliament and nobility




Harry Potter, Robin Hood and other movies were filmed at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland.




Uniquely chisled at the edges, Dover Castle hovers in the winds and exemplifies the term "stronghold"




Dover Castle is so geometric that the English have had some fun with it at art gallery openings




St. Michael's Mount and Mont St. Michel are twin forts on the English and French coasts.

This is St. Michael's Mount on the English side off Cornwall. Let's move on to...





On the French side is Mon Saint-Michel, a much larger structure with a permanent population.




The imposing wall of the Castle of Caen, which was Duke William of Normandy's stronghold

in France before he set out on his conquest of England, after which he moved to London.




On the mainland we find the fortress castle of Angers with its amazing French gardens




More of the gardens are in the back of Angers- evidence of habitation




Built as a hunting lodge for King Louis VII in the 12th century, this Chateau de Vincennes

goes to show that if the king hangs out in a place long enough, it will increase in size!




You know the Cinderella Castle of course, which is at Walt Disney World in Florida, but

what about the Sleeping Beauty Castle? It is here, Chateau d'Usse in France.




Almost a synonym for luxury, Chateau de Chantilly deserves its reputation




A hallway and the library at Chateau de Chantilly, destroyed in part during the French Revolution and rebuilt




Renaissance Chateau de Chambord on the Loire River is an amazing building bringing many tourists

The more decorative features come from the transition period from castle to palace




When Gascon Bertrand de Goth became Pope Clement V in the 13th century, he moved from Rome

to Avignon overlooking the River Rhone. After 80 years the seat of Western Christianity moved

back to Rome leaving behind a grand building in the historic center of Avignon




Chateau de Brissac stands 7 stories high, making it one of the tallest buildings of the Middle Ages




The castle of Chinon was used by Henry II and Queen Eleanor to keep

the Province of Aquataine under English control in the 12th century




One more stop before leaving France- Carcassonne Castle. But wait, is it still a castle if

half the town is behind the castle wall? Where do city and castle begin and end?




Carcassonne Castle built during Angevin times all lit up at night in its majesty- one of the great castles of all the world




Before we leave France, let us sing an ode to castles long gone. In the Very Rich Hours of the Duke du Berry,

the Limbourg Brothers painted the castle of the Duke, now long gone, and we can see the romance of medievalism




Belgium and Holland

Beerstel is a cassic Belgian castle made of a central ring enclosed by towers on each side




Castle Graveensteen flies the flags of the medieval provinces as well as the modern state




Chateau de Boullion also flies the flags, it is where Godrey of Boullion was born,

who led the First Crusade to the Holy Land when Urban II called for it in 1095.

It is built on three separate rock outcroppings, an interesting feat of engineering






Kalmar Castle in Sweden is where the Union of Kalmar was signed,

uniting the Nordic countries from the 14th to the 16th centuries




Akerhaus Fortress was built to protect Oslo, Norway from attack





Castillo Pinafel was built in the middle of nowhere, it means "the rock" to keep the faith, which it did




Close up of the rock walls of a Spanish castle near Madrid




Castle Mazanares in Spain is clearly built for defense during the reconquista

notice the arrow loops for the archers all around the building




Manzanares is a good example of a castle built to secure an area during the 15th century




St. James Matamoros slaying Moors (Muslims) during the Reconquista in the 15th century

Notice they tried to make it a little nicer by planting flowers all around the slayed Muslims




Castel Del Monte is a jewel of castle architecture built in 1240 with no moat or defense except its imposing look




Castle of Tirol in its beautiful setting overlooking a village in North Italy




 The Castle of the Holy Angels is one of the medieval era buildings in Rome



Next: Castles of Eastern Europe



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