A castle on a hill…sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? And to us modern tourists, seeing one castle after another on the Rhine River is a dream come true – we admire their beauty and their history. Castles were built not just as residences for royalty, but fortifications against invading enemies. Positioning them on hilltops above a river (which would have been the main form of transportation in medieval times) was meant to be imposing; they were symbols of power and strength; a hilltop position provided a view up and down the river, to spot adversaries from afar. (Although note that one of the castles in this gallery is actually right ON the river, not far above it.) Many castles were dark, damp places, fires burning for warmth in only a few rooms.
Thinking about these castles from that perspective takes some of the glamor away. Even so, they are worthy of admiration. One of them – Marksburg Castle (the white one with red trim – 2nd and 3rd photos) – we were able to tour, but I would have loved to explore some of the others. What is amazing is that these structures have been standing for centuries – they were built to last and of course many of them have undergone significant renovations.
Although Americans are amazed to see and visit these representations of centuries of European history (since we have nothing either as old or as symbolic of feudal society), I suppose people who are used to seeing them all the time don’t think about their history and probably take them for granted. Another perspective, I guess.
Posted for Becky’s July Square Perspectives photo challenge, day 24.