Castles and chateaux holidays

√ Culture

 

castles and chateaux holidays

People interested in architecture, history and geology are likely to be inspired by a holiday visit to castle or chateau.   There are thousands to choose from and often there is minimal or no entry fee to look around and explore.

WHERE IN THE WORLD?…

A Castles and Chateaux Holiday can typically be taken in Europe, particularly France and Germany, and the Middle East.   You will also find some in the UK.

A Castle (from Latin castellum) is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by nobility. Usage of the term has varied over time and has been applied to structures as diverse as hill forts and country houses. Over the approximately 900 years that castles were built they took on a great many forms with many different features, although some, such as curtain walls and arrowslits, were commonplace.   A European innovation, castles originated in the 9th and 10th centuries, after the fall of the Carolingian Empire resulted in its territory being divided among individual lords and princes. These nobles built castles to control the area immediately surrounding them, and were both offensive and defensive structures; they provided a base from which raids could be launched as well as protection from enemies. Although their military origins are often emphasised in castle studies, the structures also served as centres of administration and symbols of power. Urban castles were used to control the local populace and important travel routes, and rural castles were often situated near features that were integral to life in the community, such as mills and fertile land.

A Château is a manor house or residence of the lord of the manor or a country house of nobility or gentry, with or without fortifications, originally—and still most frequently—in French-speaking regions. The word château is also used for castles in French, such as Château fort de Roquetaillade. Care should be taken when translating the word château into English. It is not used in the same way as “castle”, and most châteaux are described in English as “palaces” or “country houses” rather than “castles”. For example, the Château de Versailles is so called because it was located in the countryside when it was built, but it does not bear any resemblance to a castle, so it is usually known in English as the Palace of Versailles.

WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCE CAN I EXPECT?…

Whether you are exploring a very old Castle or Chateaux, or one which is relatively modern, the chances are that you will encounter ground which is not always very even or solid underfoot.   These are often buildings which have seen their fair share of history and conflict so visiting them is likely to appeal to people who are physically quite fit.   Sometimes a visit to a Castle or Chateaux will include an audio commentary (sometimes free but usually for a modest charge), which allows visitors to hear about the place in their own language.   You may even be invited to join in a re-enaction of a famous historical event, so whether your preference is to watch or to participate you should find something of interest.   Typically castles and chateaux are in Europe, especially France and Germany, and on the whole you will find the weather is similar to the UK, though in southern parts of France in particular you will find summer is warmer.   During a visit, especially outside the main public holidays, you should find space to explore at your leisure, and generally speaking other people looking around will have a similar set of interests.   You don’t have to mingle with other tourists, though if you want to compare notes and chat, there are always vistas, cafes and rest areas where you can.

WHEN CAN I DO THAT?…

Because many of the most important Castles and Chateaux are spread across Western Europe, you can make a visit throughout most of the year.   It might be considered more pleasant to do so in late Spring (before the main surge of tourist visitors for public and school holidays) and late summer/early Autumn, for the same reasons, and before the weather gets too cold.

DO I NEED ANYTHING SPECIAL TO DO THAT?…

A sturdy pair of shoes or walking boots is usually useful as the ground around such buildings can be uneven.   You are also advised to pack waterproof clothing just in case the weather turns wet.   Make sure you have some local currency, as many of the most interesting castles and chateaux make a charge for entry or optional extras like audio commentaries or guided tours, and some may not accept credit cards.

WHERE DO YOU RECOMMEND?…

Two good starting points are Bavaria in Germany and Dordogne in France.

In Germany, Neuschwanstein Castle (German: Schloss Neuschwanstein,  is a 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as an homage to Richard Wagner. Contrary to common beliefLudwig paid for the palace out of his personal fortune and extensive borrowing, not with Bavarian public funds.   The palace was intended as a personal refuge for the reclusive king, but it was opened to the paying public immediately after his death in 1886.]Since then over 60 million people have visited Neuschwanstein Castle. More than 1.3 million people visit annually, with up to 6,000 per day in the summer. The palace has appeared prominently in several movies and was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Cinderella Castle and later, similar structures.

In France, the most visited castle in the South of France dominates the picturesque village of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle on the left bank of the Dordogne River. During the Middle-Ages, the mighty English fortress commanded the strategic position at the meeting of the Dordogne and the Céou Rivers, opposite the rival French castle of Beynac.

WHAT DOES IT COST?…

It is possible to visit castles and chateaux on a fairly limited budget, especially if you have a car and are happy to drive across Europe.   A one week visit, staying in a charming bed and breakfast inn, to Southern France of Germany using the Channel Tunnel can be achieved for about £400 per person, but you should budget for entrance fees and other optional extras, as well as lunches and dinners.

WHO ELSE ENJOYS DOING THAT?…

There are many fans of Castles and Chateaux. When he was in England, William the Conqueror lived in castles. King Edward II was born in Carnarvon Castle; his mother was living in temporary residence there while the castle was being built. King Henry V was born in Monmouth Castle. Anne of Cleves lived in a Hever Castle, which had also been the home of Anne Boleyn. There were a number of others, but most powerful medieval people did not normally live in castles.

Link to Other Things To Know (Passports, Visas, Health, Security)

As you will be visiting Western Europe, you will be subject to the usual passport checks, but there are typically few issues concerning visas, nor will you find vaccinations are needed.   You should however always check whether this information has changed, and pay attention to any security issues which arise from time to time before you travel.

Want to get in touch with DWF?

hello@dreamswithoutfrontiers.co.uk

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