After having visited all of our Battle Castles over the past few years, we’ve noticed there’s a few things you can do to get the most out of your visit. Some castle sites are huge, covering a number of acres, while others are quite compact, so a strategy is key. Our expert Benjamin Michaudel, who accompanied us to Crac des Chevaliers in Syria, pointed out that what we now see is only a skeleton of the former castle–all of the muscle and tissue scraped away by rain, wind and time. It’s hard to imagine the gardens and green spaces, the frescoes and the tapestries, but would have been present, adding colour and warmth to the structure. Don’t forget to use your imagination! Here are five tips for sieging your favourite medieval castle.
- Buy the guidebook (before). English Heritage and CADW have fabulous guidebooks. Get it ahead of time and make your list of must sees.
- Take a tour, guided or audio. Malbork Castle in Poland has great system of registering their guides. Guides take a test to prove their knowledge of the castle. They can point out things most people don’t notice.
- Get there early. Take it from us, castles are best without the crowds. It stokes your imagination to hear the wind whistling through the battlements.
- Take a flashlight. There are lots of dark corners and you don’t want to miss anything.
- Fuel up. There is nothing worse than rushing through just because you are hungry. Take snacks and plan a few breaks. Use the time to check off your list and lay out your next plan of attack.
While you’re there, be sure to take notice of the warning signs. The castles in the United Kingdom are certainly the best signed. The imagery is simple and to the point (if sometimes self evident). Check out a few of our favourites:
This sign was now behind a wrought iron gate. Looking at the staircase, I don’t think dark and narrow were the only problems.
Apparently visiting castles may also cause headaches, so be sure to bring some aspirin.
Kids are a particular concern, especially as they hang off the stonework and lunge forward. Control would be key.
Interesting that the early signs were in green. Must have been before the introduction to colour theory.
I do think that many of the signs could be metaphors for life and it makes me wonder what the authorities are really trying to warn us against.
Because after all, is every care even possible?