The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted millions of people to cancel or postpone their travelling plans. However, thanks to technology, those with chronic wanderlust and a decent internet connection can now travel virtually to any part of the world or era.
One of the digital projects undertaken by the Australia-based insurance company BudgetDirect is to virtually build the now-ruined castles of medieval Europe. With the help of architects who study medieval paintings, old blueprints and other research documents, the designers at London-based NeoMam studios were able to create the images. They recently released the animated pictures of these castles being digitally restored to their former glory with the help of GIF technology. Here are seven of the chosen forts from medieval Europe:
Menlo Castle, Galway City, Ireland
Located in Western Ireland, this castle was built in the 16th century for a family of English nobles, the Blakes. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the estate in 1910, taking the life of Eleanor, daughter of Sir Valentine Blake, as well as a maidservant. Apparently, the ivy vines were used by the family coachman, James Kirwan, to climb down the blazing structure. The castle was designed to be a domestic residence but was fortified with cannons, for security purposes. The castle’s ruins are covered in ivy now.
Poenari Castle, Wallachia, Romania
Built on a Romanian cliff in the early-13th century, this castle lies high above the Arges River and is set into the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. Using an old Byzantine technique, the castle was built directly into the earth and was home to the ruthless 15th-century ruler, Vlad the Impaler. The fortress features 1,480 stone steps to reach the top, also designed to ensure an easy escape. The notorious Vlad was also the inspiration behind Bram Stroker’s fictional vampire, Count Dracula.
Samobor Castle, Samobor, Croatia
A masterpiece of its time; this castle is situated 15 miles outside Zagreb, Croatia’s largest city and capital. It was Ottokar II of Bohemia who initiated the construction of this stone structure while fighting Hungary for control of Styria. This castle is a fine example of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architectural styles. War and expansions have basically left it in ruins, except for the base of the guardhouse, which can still be spotted there.
Spiš Castle, Spišské Podhradie, Slovakia
This UNESCO World Heritage Site was constructed in the 12th century and is one of the world’s largest castle complexes, covering an area of four hectares. It is because of its scale that it served as a border fortress to the Hungarian kingdom. Over a period of time, the castle was passed on to several empires and aristocratic families. The Csák family was the last owner of the castle. In 1780, the building caught fire, possibly because of a lightning strike. However, the rebuilding of the structure in the 20th century helped toughen the remaining rooms. Some parts of the 1996 fantasy/adventure movie, Dragonheart were also shot in this location.
A cape fort overlooking the North Sea, Dunnottar Castle is best known for being besieged and retaken by William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace along with his Scottish forces from the English in 1297. This 1.4-hectare site was built between the fifth and seventh centuries. Some of the early stone structures that stand today were built by Sir William Kenith in the 1300s. During the invasion of Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century, the Scottish monarchy smuggled their crown jewels into the castle for protection.
Olsztyn Castle, Olsztyn, Poland
On a hill overlooking river Lyna in northeastern Poland lie the ruins of Olsztyn Castle. The relics include a gothic tower, leftovers of once-standing pillars, and some white walls. This castle was built in a gothic style in the 1300s, using white limestone beneath a brown-brick façade. Between 1349-59, Casimir the Great expanded it as a means to provide protection against the Czechs. For security purposes, Olsztyn later gained a military garrison and the castle was renovated in the Renaissance style in the 16th century. But constant attacks between the 17th and 18th century by the Swedish led to its ruin.
Chateau Gaillard, Les Andelys, France
In the late 12th century, England’s famous Richard I (or Richard the Lionheart) built Chateau Gaillard in northern France in just two years. This fortress was constructed to protect England’s rule over the Duchy of Normandy from the French invasion. The use of concentric fortification and machicolation in this castle’s design sets it apart as a fine example of a medieval fort design. However, the structure couldn’t last for long. The passage of time and invasion by various foreign forces in the 16th century ruined it. And then Henry the IV of France demolished it.