Monday, October 15

Amazing and Beautiful Castles!

Potala Palace is situated on Marpo Ri hill (The Red hill) in Lhasa, Tibet. It was built in 641 by Emperor Songtsen Gampo, ruler of the Tubo kingdom, for Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty, whom he married with. It burned to the ground during a war and was rebuilt in the 17th century by the fifth Dalai Lama. The palace gradually became a place where the Dalai Lama lived and worked and a place for keeping the remains of successive Dalai Lama.

The palace covers an area of over 360,000 square meters. It has 13 stories, and is 117 meters high. It has preserved abundant historic relics including more than 2500 pieces of frescos (paintings on plaster), thousands of pagodas, 10 thousands of sculptures and scroll paintings, endless golden books, golden and jade seals, gold and silver wares, china wares, enamels, jade wares and some other precious art wares. It has been included in the World Heritage List.

Mont Saint-Michel is a medieval castle situated on a quasi-island on the Normandy coast, near Brittany, in France. The island it is built on is in the midst of not only the sea, but surrounded by unpredictable shifting tides and miles of quicksand. Still, Mont St Michel stands up like a monumental paradigm of stability and victory. It had its beginnings as a monastery. Today, it attracts over four million visitors a year, and has been featured in numerous movies, cartoons and even videogames. It is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Neuschwanstein Castle on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany is a classic fairytale’s castle or a 19th-century Romanesque revival palace which was built for King Ludwig II between 1869 and 1886. The castle was equipped with all kinds of technical and modern facilities which was itself a wonder during that time. There were toilets equipped with automatic flushing on every floor, a warm air heating system for the entire building and much more. It stands beautiful with its towers having tapering structures on their tops, similar to that of Hogwarts.

Matsumoto Castle, locally known as Matsumotojo in Japan is considered as “National Treasure of Japan”.  It is a good example of a so called “hirajiro”, a castle built on the plain rather than on a hill or mountain. It is also called ‘Crow Castle’ because of its elegant black walls.  Inside the castle are steep stairs and low ceilings displaying armours and weapons from the Sengoku period (“Warring-States”) when the castle was built.

Prague Castle in Bohemia is one of the biggest castles in the world. It is about 570 meters in length, 130 meters wide and covers an area of 66,761 square meters. The castle dates back to the ninth century and it was expanded countless times till the second half of the eighteenth century. It was founded by Prince Bořivoj of the Přemyslid dynasty that ruled the kingdom of Bohemia for centuries. The Czech crown jewels are kept here and it is a place where Roman Emperors, Czech Kings, Presidents of Czech Republic and Czechoslovakia had their offices.

There are many attractions in the castle and many sights including the St. Vitus Cathedral and the St. George’s Basilica. Golden Lane is situated in the castle and is very popular for its appearance and historical personalities who lived there. Below the castle are a series of stepped gardens full of trees and quiet benches for looking out over the city.

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