Castles were built to withstand not only the elements but also enemy sieges and the occasional fury of hungry commoners, so it's no surprise that many of them survived into the present day. Most of these have transitioned from royal residences into tourist attractions, and it's easy to understand why. Palaces, citadels, fortresses, and just really big chateaus hold an undeniable attraction to modern eyes.
The world's largest castles are fairy tales made real, physical evidence of an era far removed from the now. Seen from below, they inspire awe. Seen from above, with the latest in satellite technology, it becomes clearer how they've shaped the land around them. Check out these satellite pics of castles, and vote up the ones that give you a new perspective on the past.
- 1638 VOTES
Mont Saint-Michel, France
Though not properly a castle, Mont-Saint-Michel resisted sieges during the Hundred Years' War and the French Wars of Religion, and is a unique medieval remnant whose walls and towers provide an even more unique vista from above. Technically an abbey and village, the Romanesque and Gothic structure is completely surrounded by the waters of Mont-Saint-Michel Bay during high tide.
Constructed between the 11th and 16th centuries, the Benedictine abbey is known as the "Wonder of the West," and has been a site of pilgrimage for a thousand years. Houses in the village date to the 15th century, though most are now hotels and shops.New perspective on history?
- 2786 VOTES
Burg Eltz is not only a historical site but also inhabited by the same family that was first deeded the castle in 1157 AD. Located in Wierschem, Germany, the Eltz family has lived on the estate for more than 860 years.
A survivor of the Thirty Years' War, possessing 80 rooms, and said to be haunted by ghostly medieval knights, Burg Eltz looks much like it did in the 16th century.New perspective on history?
- 3277 VOTES
Also known as Shirasagijo, or White Heron Castle, Himeji was built up over several centuries, from the 1400s to 1609. Its more than 80 buildings are connected by several gates and winding paths that form a kind of labyrinth.
According to UNESCO,
The principal complex of these structures is a masterpiece of construction in wood, combining function with aesthetic appeal, both in its elegant appearance unified by the white plastered earthen walls... and in the subtlety of the relationships between the building masses and the multiple roof layers visible from almost any point in the city.New perspective on history?
- 4965 VOTES
Originally the site of Louis XIII's hunting lodge, the monarch's son, Louis XIV, would eventually transform it into the new home of the French court. Louis oversaw the construction of a lavish palace containing pressurized fountains, about 350 apartments, and architectural works of art like the Hall of Mirrors.
Perhaps Danish writer Louise Boisen Schmidt said it best:
To the public imagination, Versailles is the epitome of opulence. It represents an age in French history of both France's rise as a fashion and power center as well as the dramatic — and bloody — decline of the monarchy.New perspective on history?