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A to Z Challenge: F is for Fortresses

By Tuesday, April 07, 2015 ,

This post originally appeared as part of the A to Z Challenge, and was called 'F is for Fortresses'.

Castles are probably the number one thing I'm interested in when we travel. That and food.

I've mentioned before on here that I am a castle snob, meaning I'm often surprised by what gets labeled as a castle - things like big major houses and even small houses with a tower, or maybe a palace next to a cathedral (you'll notice there is no actual fortified building at Prague Castle, for example - the castle snob in me says this isn't really a castle at all). Don't get me started on how many wineries in France are called Châteaux!

So I've learned that when I search for castles near my next destination, I should be searching for "citadel" or "fortress".

My dad's family lives on the Welsh border, which means lots of stone military monstrosities built between the 11th and 13th centuries. In fact, according to the BBC "Wales has more castles per head than anywhere else in the world", and that's not including the ones nearby in England. Two I remember visiting in Particular are Goodrich and Ludlow

And what terrific fortresses they are! Many are half ruined, having been impenetrable until cannons exploded (ha!) onto the scene (the one that got Goodrich was named 'Roaring Meg').

I love the old, stone kind that you can explore yourself without ropes keeping you away from the furniture, where you can peak out arrow slits and hide behind the battlements.

I've had the chance to visit quite a few while living in Europe, but the following by far are my favorite:

Gravansteen in Ghent (Isn't that a terrific name?)

Craigmillar in Edinburgh (yes, it's in the city! you can reach it by bus)

The Alcazaba and Castillo de Gibralfaro in Malaga

The Orsini-Odescaldi Castle at Bracciano (Just outside of Rome)

And finally, Kasteel de Haar, just North West of Utrecht, the Netherlands. This was rebuilt recently, so it's a bit more for decoration that most castles I like to visit, but isn't it just so pretty?

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  1. Wow I love looking at castles. I've been to a lot in England. Yours look more like castles though. I've been to York castle (ruins I guess) Leeds Castle (which is nowhere near Leeds) and Dover Castle amongst others. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Very pretty, especially the little red house in the foreground :-)

  3. Such beautiful old castles. I've seen only a few, mainly on the Rhine.

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  4. When I was a teenager I was hardcore into fantasy books. My reading tastes have matured (somewhat), but I still love castles. Like big scary, intimidating castles. I'd be disappointed if I turned up at a castle only to find a house with a tower; good advice on the fortress thing.

    1. Yeah... I might never have out grown the fantasy books....

  5. I love castles as well, although the only one here in New Zealand is one that you described, barely a castle. Your photos are wonderful, I pinned a bunch of them.