November 6, 2013

Built to impress (and sometimes inspire fear), castles to me are the epitome of historical majesty, mystery and power. They are the site of battles, intrigue, royal backstabbing and of course fabulous wealth. But what is a castle exactly? Most scholars consider it to be a fortified private home for a medieval lord. So it is distinct from both a palace, which is not fortified, and other kinds of forts, which were not always a private residence. We all know one when we see it, and it always conjures up images of dashing knights, beautiful maidens in lavish clothing, and, who knows, maybe even a dragon or two!

Leeds Castle For this fantastic calendar we have collected images of some of the most stately, imposing and mysterious castles from throughout Europe. Here we see England’s Leeds Castle, which was built on islands in the center of a lake. Its shrouded location matches its deep and storied history, almost as old as England itself. The castle even has a connection to America: it contains a commemorative sundial telling the time in Belvoir, Virginia, with a corresponding sundial in that city.

The Rocca Calascio in Abruzzo, Italy The Rocca Calascio in Abruzzo, Italy also has a striking location. As a rocca, or mountaintop fort, it sits at 4,790 ft. Personally I would not want to climb a mountain and then have to lay siege to a castle, and apparently neither did anyone else: the fort was never tested in battle. Damage to the structure is the result of a major earthquake in 1461; it was never repaired, most likely also due to its extreme location.

These castles serve as a testament to another era, when terrifying battles raged and a lucky few could protect themselves inside these mighty fortresses. But I think what makes them the most mysterious and ghostly is that they now sit empty, and we will never know all the secrets of the people who built and defended them.

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Enchanted Castles
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