Thursday, August 12, 2010
1. Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle was home to Earls and Dukes for 700 years. Around 1096, Yves de Vescy became baron of Alnwick and created the foundational parts of the Castle. During the 17th century the castle started to decay until Elizabeth Seymour and her husband decided to restore it and hired architects to make it gothic style. It was later changed from gothic style to what it is now. The site is actually one of England’s largest inhabited castles and has been used for multiple movies. Some of these include Harry Potter, Elizabeth, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and Ivanhoe.
2. Mont Saint-Michel
Mont Saint-Michel is located on an island in France, with unpredictable tide patterns (Victor Hugo described it to change, “as swiftly as a galloping horse”). In 708 St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches, heard Archangel Michael telling him to the build the church. Later, the abbey that was built closed and became a prison during the French Revolution of 1789. There isn’t much that connects the island to the mainland, but thankfully a bridge is in the works! Also, for you Lord of the Rings fans out there; Minas Tirith (Gondor) was actually modeled after Mont Saint-Michel!
What is it? A castle built in the mouth of a cave in Slovenia. The name sounds complicated but it means, “Castle in front of cave.”Not very creative…but that’s okay. The cave that the castle is built in is actually Slovenia’s second largest cave system.
Here’s a snippet of its complicated history:
A 15th century infamous robber named Erazem, owned the castle. The emperor Gasper Ravbar sent an order to assassinate him. Erazem was killed in 1483. The castle ended up in the hands of Archduke Charles of Austria in 1567. Baron Philipp von Cobenzl ended up buying it from him 20 years later. In 1570, the current castle was built in the Renaissance style, pressed next to a vertical cliff. Later, a few Yugoslav Communist authorities decided to nationalize the castle and turned it into a museum. In 1986 the castle was used in the movie Armour of God starring Jackie Chan. The castle was also featured in Syfy’s Ghost Hunters.
4. Castle Frankenstein
Castle Frankenstein has a haunting appearance to it. Did the castle’s history inspire Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein? The answer is uncertain but after reading a little more, you can decide that for yourself.
Castle Frankenstein has had many inhabitants dating back before 1250. However, one of the more notable residents would be Konrad Dippel. Konrad Dippel was a scientist and alchemist who spent his life searching for the Philosopher’s Stone. He was also said to have practiced the Dark Arts and rumored to have stolen dead bodies in order to attempt to reanimate them.
Before you go and cast judgment on the man though, I’ll add that he was originally a priest who got on the church’s bad side by practicing science. It is said that the Church started the dark rumors about the man.
Mary Shelley did visit the castle and knew the stories of Konrad Dippel. Castle Frankenstein’s appearance isn’t grand or elaborate, but its history alone makes up for what would appear as dull.
5.Château de Chillon
Located on the shore of Lake Léman, Château de Chillon is Switzerland’s most visited historical monument. With over 1,000 years of history, the site has inspired artists and writers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo and Lord Byron. Lord Byron actually wrote a poem titled, The Prisoner of Chillon about Francois de Bonivard, a monk who was imprisoned at the castle. The castle is made up of 100 separate buildings that were eventually connected to become one single monument.
Didn’t see one of your favorite castles on the list? Leave a comment and let us know!