WANA: We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
Wednesday, the fabulous Angela Orlowski-Peart hosted me. Today, I get to be her host. As most of you know, Angela grew up in Poland, and all things European are still very dear to her. Let her take you through a tour of some of the castles of Europe.
The Charm of European Castles
Each time I go back to my native Europe, I try to visit at least one castle. There are plenty of amazing castles in Poland, where I am from, but the whole Europe is practically packed with those architectural jewels.
It is not only how great they look, how huge they are, or how well (or not) they are preserved. What’s most thrilling is the history they have witnessed over the years—the battles, the political changes, the social alterations, even the new trends in a surrounding architecture. The centuries have passed but those palaces still stand, as a legacy of the past. Some of them are in ruins, but many have been renovated to their former splendor.
One of my favorite European castles stands over river Wisla in Polish Malbork. Its massive brick walls and towers form city’s western fortification. Looking from the opposite bank of the river, this breath-taking medieval gem fills the entire view.
Image source: http://www.zamkigotyckie.org.pl
For tourists that don’t want to drive, the easiest way to get to Malbork from the Baltic coast is by train—it only takes about one hour from the picturesque Gdansk.
The history of Malbork goes back to the Holy Land. After Islam took over Jerusalem, the legendary Teutonic Knights found themselves in need of a new base of operations. In the 13th century Polish Kings offered Teutonic Order sanctuary in return for help in converting some of the pagan tribes to Christianity. The Order was allowed to establish the town of Malbork and build the castle that, soon, became the largest Gothic fortress in Europe.
During the II World War, a huge part of the castle was destroyed. Despite ongoing construction since the end of the war, the main cathedral remains in its ruined state. In 1997 the Malbork Castle was entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle located in Bavaria, near the town of Fussen is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. It is a Romanesque Revival palace, built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who was often referred to as the “Fairytale King”.
Image source www.hellotravel.com
The castle was designed in the honor of Richard Wagner, the world-renowned composer. Neuschwanstein literally means “New Swan Castle”, which is a reference to “the Swan Knight”, one of the Wagner’s characters. The palace was constructed to be a stage for the Wagner’s operas. Many rooms were planned as places where an opera might be performed. The German mythology, that was a base for Wagner’s operas, is visibly reflected in the architecture and artwork throughout every room and hallway of the castle.
The palace really looks like something straight from a fairytale. Interestingly, Neuschwanstein was constructed in the 19th century, when castles no longer had any defensive purposes. It has a picturesque medieval look, but it was equipped with most advanced luxuries at that time, like toilets with automatic flushing system and an air heating system for the entire palace.
Take a look at the photo above—does this castle remind you of something very familiar? Yes, it very much looks like the Disney castle in Florida. There are opinions that the Disney castle was modeled after the German Neuschwanstein.
I have to admit, I had a hard time selecting just two castles for the purpose of this post. There are so many that I would like to write about. If you are interested in learning more, please view Europe’s Most Beautiful Castles video and let me and David know which one is your favorite. Or maybe you have visited some of them. If so, please share your experiences.
This urban fiction, paranormal romance, and fantasy YA writer loves reading good books almost as much as writing them. She plots, daydreams and does research for her novels. When not imagining twists and turns for her manuscript plot, she blogs, watercolor paints or connects on Twitter and Facebook. And in the slimmest spare time possible she also participates in an awesome critique group, SCBWI Western Washington meetings and conferences. A tea and strong coffee lover, prefers sunshine over rain and wears designer high heels to the least appropriate places like her son’s soccer practice.