Coudenberg Castle is a former palace located in Brussels, Belgium. In the 12th century, a small, fortified castle sat upon Coudenberg Hill. The palace was renovated and added to by successive monarchs until it became one of the most beautiful palaces in Europe. For more than 700 years the castle of Coudenberg held the seat of government, from the 11th century until its destruction. Coudenberg was included within the first great wall built around Brussels. The castle was the home of my 25th great grandfather, Hendrik van Leuvin, the Duke of Brabant from 1165-1235 AD. By 1356, the castle was no longer necessary as a military defense, and it was converted from a military stronghold to a residential palace. The palace was the main residence of the Holy Roman Emperor, King Charles V (1500-1558), who added to the structure in the Renaissance style, and constructed a Grand Chapel in the Gothic style in memory of his parents. In 1731, the palace was destroyed by fire, forty years later, the ruins were removed and the Palais Royal was built in its place. The Palais Royal serves as the official palace of the king and queen of the Belgians, however the king and queen live in the Royal Palace of Laeken. The remains of the ancient palace and adjacent building are present below ground level, and are open to the public.
Ta Prohm is the modern name for the temple at Angkor. Located in Cambodia in the Siem Reap province, the temple was built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. The temple became a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university, which was founded by the Khmer King, Jayavarman VII, who dedicated Ta Prohm to his mother. Ta Prohm is a traditional Khmer structure, consisting of a series of gradually smaller enclosures, with the center tower connecting the smaller towers through passageways. The site was home to more than 12, 500 people in the late 12th century, with a population of 800,000 in the surrounding villages. The temple was modified after King Jayavarman VII’s death, and modified later by Hindu and Thervada Buddhist kings in accordance with their own religious beliefs. After the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 17th century, the temple was abandoned. Restoration to conserve the temples of Angkor began in the early 21st century, but it was decided that Ta Prohm would be left in its ruined state. The jungle surrounding the temple merged with the ruins, giving it a new overall appeal to the tourists who frequent the temple. Although the ruins are bound by massive roots from the fig, silk-cotton, and kapok trees, the area was stabilized to make the temple accessible to tourists, which was necessary since Ta Prohm is Angkor’s most visited temple. Ta Prohm was inscribed by UNESCO and placed on the World Heritage list in 1992. The temple includes 260 statues of gods, 39 towers with pinnacles and 566 different residences. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was filmed there. #TemplesTa Prohm
Predjamski Castle (Predjama Castle) is perched high upon a vertical cliff in south-central Slovenia, in the region of Inner Carniola. The castle was built in the mouth of a cave and first mentioned by the German name Luegg in 1274. The fortress was designed in the cave to make access difficult, as the castle was only accessible from one side. The location also allowed supplies to be moved through the secret passages of the caves, undetected. Predjamski was built in the Gothic style by the Patriarch of Aquileia and became the seat of the renowned robber baron, Knight Erazem Lueger. The castle was under siege and destroyed due to the local Robin Hood Lueger’s offenses, which had riled Austria’s king. Legends claim Lueger was betrayed by a servant and died from a single canon shot while using the vulnerable privy located at the top of the castle. The second castle was constructed by the Purgstall family in 1511 and was destroyed by an earthquake. Hans Kobenzi, an Austrian Knight, constructed the third castle in the Renaissance style in 1567. The castle remained in his family until 1810. Two more owners followed until the castle was confiscated by the state after WWII. The Yugoslav Communist authorities nationalized Predjamski Castle in 1945. It is currently a museum and open to the public.
Burg Eltz Castle is located in Münstermaifeld, Germany. This medieval castle sits high upon a rocky crag, towers over the Moselle River, and is surrounded on three sides by the Elzbach River. The castle was built along an important medieval trade route, which allowed the nobles to protect the route and collect taxes and tithes from passing merchants. Thirty-three generations of the Rübenach and Rodendorf families have lived in the castle since the 12th century, and this continues today, as Dr. Karl Graf currently owns the castle. The castle is divided into many sections, which allowed different branches of the families to make Eltz Castle their home. The Romanesque keep is the oldest part of the castle and dates to 1157. The castle was not built for defense, but as a grand rural home for German nobles. In essence, it’s three castles in one, where each family built different sections during various architectural periods. This melding of architecture makes it a hodgepodge of Medieval, Late Gothic, Baroque, and Romanesque. It has the fairytale appearance that I love. Eltz Castle is open to the public.