The hilltop above Prague, now the site of Prague Castle, has been continuously inhabited since prehistoric times. Events of enormous historic importance (like the Defenestrations of Prague) happened via windows looking out on a very similar view.
This is the picture of Prague from every postcard and stamp, and it just happened to be across the street from our hotel: the Charles Bridge over the Vltava River, with Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral rising above. The dramatic clouds made an effective backdrop for the horde of gulls winging above it all.
There are no crenelations, gates, or moats; this is not a place to hold off an invading force. Nonetheless, the châteauesque architecture of Berkeley’s Normandy Village seems like it could fairly be called a castle, filtered through generations of repeating architectural patterns. With each generation, the style moves farther from the functional reasons for its original existence.
Mohonk’s Skytop appears as a small castle atop the hills near the hotel, but its reality is a bit more mundane: it was constructed as a watchtower for forest fires in the early twentieth century. Though no longer in use, it adds an extra hint of magic to the whole setting. The hotel (off to the left) sits on the water, and the tower touches the sky.
Bannerman’s Castle on Pollepel Island in the Hudson River was once an arsenal, and then a tourist destination, before it burned down in 1969 and the island was closed to the public. Now the fortified silhouette of the ruins apparently inspires an incredible amount of use as a hideout for the supernatural in fantasy fiction. Though I didn’t know it at the time I took this picture, this island is one of the major inspirations for Lev Grossman’s Brakebills College. A sunset train ride down the Hudson River is the perfect occasion to stumble on a structure like this.
Another in my ongoing series of sand castle photographs (see I, II, and III), this shot comes from the gorgeous coast of southern Brazil. While everyone else is off playing in the surf, these two boys stayed behind on the beach to construct this complex of truly epic sand castles. (That sand castles are as wondrous and short-lived as childhood is perhaps too trite a metaphor for me to acknowledge in any way beyond the parenthetical.) I just love the universality of building sand castles on the beach–from the east coast to the west, and the from the northern hemisphere to the south, it’s a worldwide past time.
Trinity College’s Long Walk (of which Northam Hall here is only a part) impresses with just a glance. Living in this Harry-Potter-esque tower delivered a college experience that was more literally epic than I ever expected. The wind blasted through the ancient windows and the walls were two feet thick and the path to actually get to my dorm room was labyrinthine.
During our recent trip to the University of British Columbia, Brendan spotted what looked a bit like a castle rising from behind the otherwise modern architecture of the university. What he saw was the Iona Building, the heart of the Vancouver School of Theology. It struck me as a little bit odd to see such an imposing and explicitly religious building on the campus of a public university, but hey–that’s Canada for you. The building’s provenance does little to diminish its architectural achievement.