Posts Tagged ‘fairy tales’

DAY 202

“I’m just fascinated by visiting actual castles in the countryside.”

§ Lily Collins §

I love castles. Do you want to know why? Well, it might be because we are flat out of castles in Washington, so the whole idea of a castle in each ancient town is…well…what a novelty. What’s even better is that in Europe in general, we’ve got castles, castles everywhere.

It’s not just me.  Now, yes, it’s true that castles fascinate some for their historical importance. But for many people, castles are fascinating because of the life that Hollywood and fairy tales have made us associate with castles. Fairy tales gently glaze over the extreme conditions—the bugs, the rats, the lack of food, the disease, the lack of running water or ever clean water, the constant fear or battle or plague or mass starvation.   The whole taking a bath once a month, wearing the same clothes day in and day out—skipped over.  Fairy tales glamorize castles and I can say with 100% certainty that I am not immune.

To me, castles are the place to go, the highlight of the weekend. What did you do last weekend? Oh, I found a castle. And you do always have to “find” it. Castles always involve walking…because they are always at the top of everything to afford the best views and the best defenses.

To get the Xátiva castle, I refused to take the train, electing instead to go walking.  It was so worth it.  I found so much on the way—castle walls, magnificent views, a hermitage, a watchtower I climbed on, blooming flowers, forests of catii, so much. And the castle itself—about a kilometer of walking just to see it all—was amazingly intact.  It had at least 4 sets of gates, so that in times of war, the inhabitants could literally blockade themselves off in sections depending on how far the invaders got.  It had several wells, a dungeon that once housed kings and noblemen, stores for food, for weapons, for people.  And it was gorgeous as well, both the views and the castle itself (which, with the way it was perched on top of the cliffs, almost reminded me of photos I’ve seen of China’s wall).

And at the top, I did what I always do these days—I asked for a photo. Asking for a photo gets me all kinds of interesting stories…but this time, it got me a new English-speaking friend.

Xátiva and it castle? Fantastic.


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