What comes to mind when you hear the word “castle”? Apart from Grimm’s fairy tales and Disney animation, that is! The average person’s mind will instantly jump to Europe – home to some of the most beautiful castles in the world. The Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, the Neuschwanstein in Germany, the Château de Chenonceau in France, and the Miramare Castle in Italy are some of the top examples that jump to mind immediately.
And yet, while Europe does have several good reasons to hog the limelight, the rest of the world has equally beautiful offerings to make. Here are some stunning examples of royal architecture in the Middle East & Asia. They are magnificent and awe-inspiring and are competing fiercely with each other for your attention. If push came to shove you would have a hard time picking any one of them as a clear winner.
Arg-e-Bam holds the distinction of being the biggest mud brick structure in the whole world. Constructed almost entirely from clay, mortar, and bricks, this beautiful castle dates back to 500 BC. After evaluating the structure and planning of the castle, experts are of the opinion that several features inside this complex are indicative of technological advancement.
Tragically, a massive earthquake destroyed almost 80% of the citadel in 2003. The good news, however, is that reconstruction of Arg-e-Bam is underway, even if it is moving quite slowly, since officials are striving to be as accurate in their recreation as possible. It won’t be long before Arg-e-Bam will stand before us, renewed in its beauty and glory.
Himeji Castle, Japan
Himeji Castle is one of the most widely visited castles in Japan and the first landmark in the nation to make it to the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Owing to its spectacular beauty, the Himeji Castle is also known as the White Heron castle, which, in spite of Japan’s tumultuous history, was never affected by war, bombing, or fires. The best time to visit the castle is in spring when the cherry trees around the castle burst into blooms, dotting the castle grounds merrily and giving it an almost fairy tale like quality.
Mehrangarh Fort, India
Where the Himeji castle impresses you with its delicate dreamlike quality, the first impression you have of the Mehrangarh Fort in Rajasthan, India is that it is imposing and majestic in a formidable way. One of the largest citadels in the country, the Mehrangarh fort is constructed on a perpendicular cliff that soars four hundred feet above the city’s skyline. Made from burnished sandstone and standing a hundred feet from the ground, the nickname “Citadel of the Sun” seems to do it justice as does Rudyard’s Kipling’s description of it that it is “the work of giants”.
Krak des Chevaliers, Syria
Built in the 12th-13th century, this sprawling fortress that is built from limestone served as the headquarters of the legendary Knights Hospitaller. It is believed that the virtually impenetrable fortress was one of the main reasons why the Knights came to be known as a force to be reckoned with during the Crusades.
So impressed was King Edward the First with the Krak des Chevaliers that he used it as an example when building his castles all over Britain. Although the fortress has suffered damage at the hands of Israeli aircraft attacks in the last 5 decades or so, Krak des Chevaliers remains a splendid example of immovable grandeur.