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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 …
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 a …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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)
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 …
Prague (pronounced and spelled Praha on local maps) was a city I’d wanted to visit for almost 2 decades, ever since the Iron Curtain collapsed at the hands of the Velvet Revolution. But as is often the case, life happens and my plans kept being postponed. Still the idea of visiting Prague was firmly set and as we finally were approaching the Hlvani Nadrazi train station, completing our four hour rail journey from Vienna, I felt a tingle run up my leg (with due apologies to Chris Matthews) on seeing some of the Prague landmarks I recognized, like the spires of St. Vitus and our Lady of Tyn Cathedrals. I was really looking forward to our upcoming week in the capitol of Bohemia and the Czech Republic. …