Timeless Fortresses: 45 Inspiring Facts About the Historic Castles & Palaces Worldwide

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26Houska castle

Houska castle

Houska Castle in the Czech Republic has been constructed over a large hole in the ground that is allegedly a "gateway to Hell." Legend has it that when construction of the castle began, all of the inmates that were sentenced to death were offered a pardon if they consented to be lowered by rope into the hole.


27. The ring-fort of Sandby Borg in Sweden was the site of a 1,500 year-old mysterious massacre. During the European Migration Era in Sweden, during 5th Century B.C., the fort was swiftly attacked, with all its inhabitants killed and left where they fell. The fort was then abandoned, with no looting of goods or livestock nor burial of victims, and shunned up until modern times.


28. The 'Iolani Palace' is the acting palace of the Hawaiian monarchy. Constructed in 1882, they had electricity and telephones before the White House and Buckingham Palace.


29. The stairs at Lahore Fort in current day Pakistan were designed to allow royals to ride their elephants directly to the royal quarters.


30. Anyone could visit the palace and gardens of Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV, so long as they dressed neatly and in proper attire. Men were even allowed to rent a hat and sword at the entrance. Commoners were even able to file past the royal dining table and watch the king and nobles eat lunch.


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31Maruoka Castle

Maruoka Castle

During the construction of Japan’s Maruoka castle in 1576, the builders faced problems with stabilizing the castle’s base. It was decided that a human sacrifice was needed to appease the gods. A blind peasant woman volunteered to sacrifice herself to become a human pillar, in exchange for her son to be made a samurai.


32. Great Zimbabwe was an African Palace dating back to the 11th century. It was so advanced that the South African government pressured archaeologists to deny it was constructed by native people.


33. When workers were renovating Ireland's Leap Castle, they found so many humans remains impaled on wooden spikes within a wall, that it took three cartloads to remove them.


34. To supply water to the parks of the Palace of Versailles, Louis XIV ordered construction of the Marly Machine to pump water from the Seine River located 10 km from the castle, with a drop of 150 meters. This machine, which was considered one of the most complex of its time, worked for 133 years.


35. The ceiling of the Hall of Mirrors in the Royal Palace of Brussels showcases an art piece called the 'Heaven of Delight.' In 2002, Belgian artist Jan Fabre used the carcasses of approximately half a million bright iridescent green beetles to create a spectacular print both in the hall’s dome and in one of its lamps.


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36Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle

The Leeds castle in Kent, England is over 240 miles away from the city of Leeds in Yorkshire. It's named after a Saxon chief named Led or Leed, who built a wooden structure on the site in the 9th century.


37. The Malbork Castle in Poland is the largest castle in the world (measured by land area) and it was built by the Teutonic Order of knights. It was completed in 1406 and at that time it was the largest brick castle in the world.


38. The world-famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany was used as a depot to store the artworks stolen by the Nazis during World War 2. They had orders to blow it up towards the end of the war, but the SS officer who was stationed there never carried out the orders.


39. The Montezuma Castle in Arizona was named by the white settlers who assumed that the Aztecs were responsible for all Pre-Columbian historic sites. It turns out the monument has nothing to do with Montezuma or the Aztecs and yet no one bothered to rename it.


40. The primary purpose of a castle's moat was to prevent attackers from tunneling under the walls.


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41Predjama Castle Siege

Predjama Castle Siege

Predjama Castle in the present day Slovenia was under siege by the Austrian army for almost a year. The castle lasted so long because it had a secret tunnel in the back that brought food to the castle. The siege ended only when the ruler died in the latrine after getting hit by a cannonball.


42. The infamous Red Wedding, from G.R.R. Martin's "A Storm of Swords," was inspired by real-life events which took place at Edinburgh Castle in 15th century Scotland. During the "The Black Dinner," 10-year-old King James II of Scotland invited Earl William Douglas and his younger brother to a feast, during which he had them seized, taken from the hall and murdered.


43. Stairs go counter-clockwise because of castle defenses. Castle was defended from the top down and since most people are right-handed it gave the advantage to be able to hold the railing with your left and the sword with your right.


44. Henry of Champagne, King of Jerusalem, once fell off a balcony of his castle. He would have survived though if it wasn't for his servant, a dwarf named Scarlet, who jumped out to save him but ended up landing on him instead.


45. Kronborg Castle is situated on the Oresund strait where Denmark and Sweden are only 2.5 miles (4 km) away from each other. The castle was immortalized as the setting for Shakespeare's Hamlet.

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