“Pic of the Week”, May 21, 2021: Predjama Castle, Slovenia

00 Predjama Castle, Slovenia (7)

There are lots of castles in Europe, but Predjama Castle in Slovenia is different than most. It’s the largest cave castle in the world and is very close to the popular Postojna Cave complex, so you can comfortably visit both sites in one day, as we did.
Predjama Castle was originally built around the 13th century.  The castle we see today was constructed in the 16th century by its then owner, an Austrian knight know as Hans Kobenzl.  Today the castle is a museum which highlights life in the 16th century.  There is a fee for entry to the museum, and to the caves behind it.
What most strikes you when you first see the castle is its picturesque setting against a …

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.All Trips / Europe / Ireland

Trim Castle, Boyne Valley, Ireland


The pretty town of Trim, a heritage town in County Meath, is home to Ireland’s largest Anglo-Norman castle; the castle and its grounds dominate the town.  The castle rests on the south bank of the River Boyne.  It was constructed over a thirty year period by Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter; they were granted this right by King Henry II in 1172 in an attempt to stop the expansionist policies of Richard de Clare (Strongbow).

Construction of the impressive three storied keep at the center of the castle was begun about 1176 on the site of an earlier wooden fortress.   The keep is unique in that it has 20 sides and is cruciform in shape; its walls are 3m …

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“Pic of the Week”, January 23, 2015: A Visit to Castle Caerphilly

06 UK 137 – Caerphilly Castle 7

Caerphilly Castle (Castell Caerffili) is a large medieval fortress in South Wales and one of the great medieval castles of western Europe. The castle was constructed in the 13th century and is surrounded by extensive artificial lakes considered to be “the most elaborate water defenses in all Britain”.  The core residence of the castle is, in essence, an island.  The castle occupies around 30 acres and is the second largest castle in Britain (only Windsor is larger).  Besides its water defenses, it is also know for its concentric stone walls and large gatehouses.  These were revolutionary defensive designs in the 13th century.  Except for some expected restoration work, the castle today is much as it was in the late 13th century.  It secured …

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.All Trips / Europe / Ireland

A Visit to Ireland: Part 12) the Valley of the Boyne

050b Valley of the Boyne Mellifont Abbey

This post concludes tales of my road-trip around the Emerald Isle (though I’ve still got a few things to share about Dublin).  I don’t think this road-trip series could end with a more appropriate destination than the “Cradle of Irish Culture and History”, the valley of the Boyne.

The Boyne River Valley is less than an hour’s drive north of Dublin, close enough to do as a day-trip but a longer visit is most definitely recommended.  A valley of rich pasture and farmland with the Boyne River snaking through counties Meath and Louth on its way to the Irish Sea.  You’ll be tempted to sit on its bank and throw a fishing line in (and might catch a trout or salmon …

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.All Trips / Europe / Ireland

A Visit to Ireland: Part 4) the Ring of Kerry; Exploring the Iveragh Peninsula

Ring-of-Kerry-2013-061 Staigue Fort

The Ring of Kerry is a loop drive that circles the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry.  It’s just 110 miles (176 km) long but is not a fast drive as its narrow and winding. And there’s lots of beautiful scenery and historic stops along the way, so take your time and a full day to enjoy this trip.  The Iveragh peninsula has many ancient ring forts dotting the rocky land and this road offers the opportunity to easily explore several of them.  Awe-inspiring vistas of a rugged coast, the central mountains (including the tallest mountain in Ireland), and on clear days the Beara Peninsula to the south, the Skellig Islands to the west and the Dingle peninsula on the Northern part of the drive (limited views and visibility on …

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.All Trips / Europe / France

The Fortress and Medieval town of Chinon, France


There are few places in France of greater historic importance than Chinon.  You wouldn’t know that by what you see when you drive into it today as it seems a small sleepy rural town.  You’ll see little evidence of it’s past prominence except for the ruins of a fortress on a hill, only partially restored.  Between the fortress and pretty Vienne River is sandwiched a small medieval village within which you’ll find dozens of beautifully restored buildings and — best of all — a place in France that is virtually free of tourists.  The newer portions of the Chinon have grown beyond this, mostly to the riverbank opposite the historic district.  And beyond the town lies the vineyards and greater …

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“Pic of the Week”. November 9, 2012 — Eilean Donan Castle, Scottish Highlands

November 9, 2012

Perhaps the most beautiful and photographed castle in Scotland.  You’ve likely seen Eilean Donan before in movies such as “Highlander“.   Castles have stood on this island for over 1500 years, although this newest version was partially destroyed in a Jacobite uprising in 1719.  The castle was restored in the early 20th century and is now a popular tourist attraction.

The weather when we visited in was typical of the Scottish Highlands in summer.  Cold, windy and wet.  Still, I found the tranquility and beauty of the place to be captivating.   The image, to me, captures the essence of the Highlands.

(Click on thumbnail to enlarge)

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.All Trips / Czech Republic / Europe

Cesky Krumlov: A Stroll thru a Medieval Town

Cesky Krumlov —  A Stroll thru a Medieval Town

My first view of the southwestern Czech town of Český Krumlov (pronounced CHESS-key KRUM loff — from now on I’ll just call it Krumlov, as the locals do) was from Castle hill above the town.  Having just spent a week in the wonderful city of Prague, I thought I might have developed some immunity to historic beauty — but I was wrong.  The small town of Krumlov is magical!

Separated by a 2 1/2 hour drive, Prague and Krumlov have some things in common.  Both are exceptionally well preserved historic sites spared the ravages of bombing in WWII.  Like Prague, Krumlov is dominated by a large castle on a nearby hill (which over the centuries was home …

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