Thursday, 30 June 2011

Castles and Churches

No trip to Europe is complete without at least one castle and a few old gothic churches. On one of our drives through the country, we followed a castle sign that led us to the Verwolde estate. In the 1600's there was a castle here, but now there is a lovely large manor house that has been preserved from the 1700's and contains many of the family's heirlooms and historical items.
It was interesting to see the differences in how the well to do family lived compared to the lives of their staff.

In Belgium we found this 11th century castle, called the Count's castle. It is very rare to find such a large castle in the middle of a city. Because we were there so late in the day, we didn't get a chance to go inside, but it is open to the public. It served as the seat for the Count of Flanders until the 14th century, fell into disrepair and was restored in the late 1800's by the city of Gent.
Gent - view along the canal with the castle in the background.

The Gravensteen (Count's castle) in Gent.
And the 3rd castle we found was near Domburg in Zeeland. There are not many castles in this area, so finding this one was a surprise for both of us. The wood watch tower is a replica of the original and the castle is open as a youth hostel where you can spend the night.

Westhove Castle, Zeeland
Although this castle's origins are in the 13th century as part of the properties of the Abbey in Middleburg, it was partially destroyed in the Spanish war and again in WWII, and much of what remains dates only from the 17th century on.

It is totally amazing these buildings that were built before the modern conveniences that we enjoy today. The craftsmanship is awesome.