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Castles in the Sky...

My Top 13 Dream Castles List. The most spectacular castles, which are mostly intact, in the wide wonderful world which are worthy of our wildest dreams. Coming soon, I will do another list of ruins or remnants of castles, and yet another list of haunted castles.

Although I love all castles, ruins of castle, and especially haunted castles, I thought I would start by compiling a list of magnificent and magestic fortresses. Here is a Top 13 Dream Castles List, however, given my love for castles it was very difficult to narrow it down to just 13.

BURG FRANKENSTEIN, Odenwald, city of Darmstadt, Germany. Perhaps the real place that inspired the young Mary Wollstoncraft, who would later be known as Mary Shelley. Built by Lord Conrad II of Reiz of Breuberg in the mid-13th Century. The hill on which it stands had an earlier castle on the same site from the 11th Century, overlooks the city of Darmstadt in the mountains of Odenwald. A strategic hill fortress overlooking an important region. The actual name Frankenstein means "Stone of the Franks" and the real mad 17th Century alchemists who dwelled in the tower is the creator of Prussian Blue, named Johann Konrad Dippel, even though he was searchng for the Elixir of Life. Dippel is reputed to be a grave robber, labelled a necromancer, but did experimented on corpses. The stones and woods nearby are charged with supernatural power.

BODIAM CASTLE, East Sussex, England. It was built in 1385 by Edward Dalyngrigge, a knight himself, it was built for the Manor of Bodiam, with the Dalyngrigge family residing within. Although the creator himself would die in 1395, many generations of his family dwelled there, its entranceway crowned with perfect crenellations, surrounded by a lovely, yet practical, moat.

PHOTO: Courtesy of MedievalArchives.Com website

KILCHURN CASTLE, Loch Awe, Scotland. Built in the mid-1400s, by Sir Colin Campbell, first Lord of Glenorchy. Ancestral home of the Campbells of Glen Orchy, known as the Earls of Breadalbane. Feuds with Clan MacGregor who would occupy the castle at one point, followed by marriages, more feuds, violence, and repossession by the Campbells in in the late 1600s. Tragically, the castle was destoyed by lightning in 1760 and utterly abandoned.

ERICE CASTLE, Trapani, Sicily. Also known as Torretta Pepoli is said to be built in around the 10th Century. There are two castles on the site, the Venus Castle is said to have been built over a Temple of Venus dating back to ancient times, the castles themselves having Elymian and Phoenician defensive roots.

PHOTO: Castle Chillon. Courtesy of Chamonix.Org

CHILLON CASTLE, Montreaux, Switzerland. The Romantic era poem by George Gordon, Lord Byron "The Prisoner of Chillon" stayed with me since I read it long ago. The long poem was written after Byron and Percy Shelley first visited in the summer of 1816, the "Sonnet On Chillon" is Byron's first impactful impressions of Chillon and its pious prisoner. The real monk and libertine upon which the sonnet and long poem are inspired is named François Bonnivard who was imprisoned in the dungeon, which lies beneath water level of the Lake Leman, for 4 years. Fear not he lived a full life, married 4 times and died in the year 1570 at the ripe old age of 77.

Sonnet on Chillon

ETERNAL SPIRIT of the chainless Mind!

Brightest in dungeons, Liberty! thou art:

For there thy habitation is the heart--

The heart which love of thee alone can bind;

And when thy sons to fetters are consigned--

To fetters, and the damp vault's dayless gloom,

Their country conquers with their martyrdom,

And Freedom's fame finds wings on every wind.

Chillon! thy prison is a holy place,

And thy sad floor an altar--for 'twas trod,

Until his very steps have left a trace

Worn, as if thy cold pavement were a sod,

By Bonnivard!--May none those marks efface!

For they appeal from tyrrany to God.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Castles.Org

OLAVINLINNA CASTLE, Finland. Called St. Olaff's Castle, it was built by Erik Axelsson Tot in 1475 for the defense of the Swedish rulers. Truly a spectatular construction, dazzling ramparts and three imposing towers, enveloped in the defensive walls.

PHOTO: Harlech Castle north Wales. Courtesy of CastleWales.Com

HARLECH CASTLE, Gynned, Wales: The ruins of this magnificent castle seem dark an ominous today, yet when it was first built in the 12th Century, it was limewashed, so it would have appeared imposing and the sea itself once came right up to the castle, unlike the land-locked vista it holds today. Though the centuries creep by and the land may change, it seems the rocks are eternal.

BURG ELTZ, Wierschem, Germany. Built around 1157 on the site of a 9th Century manor, upon an earlier Roman keep, the imposing castle sits along the Elzbach River. The magnificent castle seen today is thanks to the later additions in 1472, including eight towers fortification later added on with great halls in the the Baroque and in 1490 and 1540 in the Late Gothic style a banner room with vaulted ceilings is added creating Rodendorf House. Constructed as a housing in which the many ruling families were to live. Rodendorf, Rübenachin, and Kempenich families, who have loved there for 33 generations, yet the most notable ruler dwelling there was the notorious Barbarossa in the 12th Century.

HRAD KARLSTEJN, Czech Republic. Karlstein Castle was built in 1348 by Charles IV, King of Bohemia, Holy Roman Emperor-Elect and is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and grandeur. Wars, plagues, fires, massacres, and neglect could not destroy this beauty where the crown jewels of the Czech-Bohemian king were kept.

BURG HOHENWERFEN, Werfen, Austria, Built in the 11th Century by Archbishop Gedhard of Salzburg. Positioned between intertwining mountain ranges of the Berchtesgaden Alps and the Tennengbirge range, the unfortunate creator of this castle would be expelled shortly after it was finished in 1077, finally allowed to return in 1086, but doomed to die 2 years thereafter, never able to fully enjoy his formidable fortress.

ALCAZAR OF SEGOVIA, , Segovia, Spain. Built over initial Roman and Arab fortifications, the Alcazar we see today is thought to have been built some time in the early 12th Century, for the royal family of Trastámara. The first written records of it are from 1120, the Alcazar of Segovia is situated where two rivers meet in the scenic Guadarrama Mountains.

CAERLAVEROCK CASTLE, Scotand. Originally built in the 13th Century as the Clan Maxwell stronghold, it was beseiged, destroyed and rebuilt several times during the 14th and 15th Centuries, then renovated during the 17th Century by the Maxwells, but beseiged again in 1640, then sadly abandoned. from the I admit that I love castles that have a drawbridge and a moat, perhaps it is the fantasy of waking up in the morning and jumping out your bedroom window for a refreshing morning swim.

PHOTO: Courtesy of MedievalArchives.Com website

BRAN CASTLE, Transylvania, Romania. Built originally as a Roman fort, then as a Saxon fortification, grand castle for the Order of Teutonic Knights in the late 13th Century to early 14th Century, near the town of Brasov nestled in the Carpathian Mountains, a truly spectacular location. Also known as, the legendary Dracula's Castle, perhaps the inspiration for Bram Stoker, and Vlad The Impailer was neither imprisoned nor lived there. However, this castle has it all, legends, catacombs, secret passageways, a chapel, grotto, and is said to be haunted. The castles in which the actual Vlad Tepes lived while he ruled, and was later imprisoned there for over a year, is Castle Corvin aka Hunedoara Castle, Transylvania.

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