Heraldic Times — Castle RSS



Castle spotlight, Olavinlinna Castle, Finland

Olavinlinna (The Castle of St. Olaf) was founded in 1475. It originally had five towers, but only three of them remain today. The castle stands on a small rocky island in lake Saimaa, the largest lake in Finland.In the beginning of the 14th century a peace treaty was signed between Sweden and Novgorod (Russia), according to which the eastern border of Sweden passed through the Savonlinna region. At this time Finland was  part of Sweden. However, the border constantly changed and caused continuing disturbances between these two nations. In the 15th century Grand Duchy of Moscow became more powerful and used this strength to flex it's political muscle in this region.There was only one castle, situated in Wyborg  further down to the south-east, to protect the...

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Castle spotlight, Château de Castelnaud, Dordogne France

On the southern side of the Dordogne River, between Domme and Beynac, Castelnaud is a magnificent castle, with splendid views across miles of rolling countryside. It is is built on a rocky outcrop and offers a splendid panorama on the Dordogne valley. The Château de Castelnaud is a medieval fortress that was erected to face its rival, the Château de Beynac. The oldest documents mentioning it date to the thirteenth century, when it figured in the Albigensian Crusade; its Cathar castellan was Bernard de Casnac. Simon de Montfort took the castle and installed a garrison; when it was retaken by Bernard, he hanged them all. During the Hundred Years War the castellans of Castelnaud owed their allegiance to the Plantagenets,...

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Castle spotlight, Castel Del Monte, Italy

When the Emperor Frederick II erected this castle close to Bari in the Puglia distict of Italy in the 13th century, he imbued it with symbolic significance, as reflected in the location, the mathematical and astronomical precision of the layout and the perfectly regular shape. A unique piece of medieval military architecture, Castel del Monte is a successful blend of elements from classical antiquity, the Islamic Orient and north European Cistercian Gothic. Frederick II was a scholar and an architect. He knew Arabic as well as Latin, and he was influenced by all he'd seen on a crusade into the Arabic world. He founded the University of Naples. He was also a friend to the great mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci, who introduced...

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Castle spotlight, Alcázar of Segovia, Spain

This Majestic example of Spanish architechture, incorporating both the Moorish and Medieval Catholic traditions is situated in the picturesque province of Castile-Leon, Northwest of Madrid. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the old city of Segovia is spectacularly situated atop a long, narrow promontory. It contains a wealth of monuments, including a cathedral, a magnificent ancient Roman aqueduct, and the beautiful fairy-tale spires of the Alcázar, or castle-palace, that towers over the countryside below.Alcazar castle in Segovia, Spain, was first mentioned in records dating back to 1122 as a hill-fort set atop a rocky outcrop between the rivers Bergsma and Clamores. By 1155 this hill-fort became known as “Alcazar”, which in Arabic meant royal residence. It is a stone fortification,...

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Castle spotlight, Gravensteen Castle, Belgium

Located in Ghent, Belgium, the present castle was built in 1180 by count Philip of Alsace and was modeled after the crusaders castles the count encountered while he participated in the second crusade. Before its construction, there stood a wooden castle on the same location,  built in the ninth century. Work was begun on the current Gravensteen building in 1180, on the site of an earlier castle. The building was modeled on the crusader castles in the Holy Land, and the massive fortifications still ooze power. The fortress was left empty and semi-derelict for some time, and during the industrial revolution some of its vast halls were used as loom-filled factories for the local cloth industry. It has now been restored...

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