October 22, 2020

9 Amazing Castles in Asia


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Himeji Castle at SunriseBy Erica Johansson in Asia & SIMON MARKLAND From Travel Blissful

Think of castles and you’ll probably imagine the grandeur of Windsor, the spires of Neuschwanstein or the gothic brilliance of Bran. But east of Europe there are castles just as grand, just as enchanting, and just as spine-tingling. Here are nine of the top castles in Asia.

1.     Himeji Castle, Japan (above)

Himeji Castle at Sunrise. Image by David A. LaSpina (Flickr).

Dating back to 1333, Himeji Castle is perhaps the best-known of all Asian castles and for good reason – as well as being the largest Japanese castle it is also arguably the most picturesque. The castle that stands today was largely built in the 17th century, and despite both heavy bombing at the end of World War II in the surrounding city and the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995, the castle remains in remarkably good condition. Despite the threats to the castle’s survival, the UNESCO World Heritage Site has never actually been under direct attack from enemy forces.

Hwaseong-Fortress2.     Hwaseong Fortress, South Korea

Hwaseong Fortress. Image by Luke Ma (Flickr).

Built in the late 18th century by King Jeongjo to honour his late father, the Hwaseong Fortress is another Asian castle designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fortress wall stretches over 5.5km and there are gates to the north, east, south and west. Despite the advanced military facilities of the fortress, during the Korean War with North Korea heavy damage was sustained by the fortress to the extent that complete repair hasn’t been possible. The scars of battle add to the Fortress’ character, making it a popular attraction for many tourists.

Fort San Domingo, Taiwan3.     Fort San Domingo, Taiwan

Sunset over the former British Consular. Image by Shenghung Lin (Flickr).

Also known as Hongmao Castle, Fort San Domingo might not be the prettiest castle in the world, but its rich history makes it one of the most fascinating. Originally a wooden fort built by the Spanish in 1629, the fort was also occupied by the Dutch and, after the Second Opium War, the British. The Victorian house pictured below was once a British Consular Residence, but today acts as a museum giving an insight into the site’s storied past.

Mehrangarh Fort, India4.     Mehrangarh Fort, India

Merhangarh Fort. Image by Ivan Lian (Flickr).

The ridiculously thick walls of Merhangarh Fort, built on a hilltop in Rajastan add to its imposing character. To enter the 15th century fort, which is still owned by the Maharaja of Jodhpur, you’ll have to make your way through seven gates. You’ll understand why the fortress is so well protected – the stunning interiors are as captivating as the grand building itself.

Krak-des-Chevaliers5.     Krak des Chevaliers, Syria

Krak des Chevaliers. Image by Benjamin (Flickr).

Known as the Castle of the Kurds because of the castle’s first inhabitants in the 11th century, the Krak des Chevaliers played a crucial part in the Crusades, being occupied by the Hospitallers from 1110 to the 1250s. T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) considered the castle, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, ‘perhaps the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world’. While the castle was a key tourist attraction in the 1930s when under control of the French government, the Syrian Civil War has made this historical site a no-go area for the time being.

the fort, gwalior, madhya pradesh6.     Gwalior Fort, India

Gwalior Fort. Image by Parth Joshi (Flickr).

The oldest part of the Gwalior Fort, one of the largest and most beautiful in India, dates back to the early 8th century. Among the impressive buildings and structures in the fort are the two Saharstrabahu temples. Dedicated to Vishnu, the 11th century temples remain only as ruins, but nevertheless remain impressive, but it is the Man Singh Palace (pictured) that is perhaps the most visually striking part of the fort.

Matsumoto Castle, Japan7.     Matsumoto Castle, Japan

Matsumoto-Jo. Image by Thomas CUELHO (Flickr).

While Himeji Castle may be the most well-known Japanese castle, there are many that claim Matsumoto as the most romantic thanks to its beautiful waterside location in the ‘Japanese Alps’ of Matsumo. Built in 1504, the castle was under threat of demolition in the late 19th century when it was sold at auction. Thankfully a local campaign successfully saved the castle and it remains standing for visitors to enjoy today.

Arg-e-Bam8.     Arg-é Bam, Iran

Arg-é Bam. Image by Sepehr Ehsani (Flickr).

The history of Arg-é Bam is longer than any other castle on the list, with its origins being traced to as far back as the 6th century BC. The most significant part of its history may turn out to be the earthquake of 2003 however, which destroyed 80% of a citadel that is listed as a World Heritage Site and had the honour of being the largest abode building on earth. Many countries including Japan, Italy and France are helping to fund and carry out the reconstruction of the citadel, which will one day allow the world to see this truly unique sight once again.

Kerak Castle, Jordan9.     Kerak Castle, Jordan

Kerak Castle. Image by Jon Martin (Flickr).

Built by the French in the 1140s, the Kerak is one of the largest crusader castles. Strategically located along the trade route from Damasucs to Egypt and Mecca, it was eventually captured by Saladin in 1189 after a two year siege.  Today the Karak Archaeological Museum in the lower court educates visitors about the Crusades, the later occupation by the Ottoman Empire and other chapters in the castle’s entertaining history.

Simon Markland works for shipping company Voovit, providers of international shipping and excess baggage services. Visit them online at http://www.voovit.com/.

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