Castles of the World – Phyllis G. Jestice

I think I grabbed Castles of the World in zero point five after it dropped on Netgalley, maybe less. Classical churches aside, castles are maybe one of the greatest architectural projects I can think about – one of the oldest for sure. They’re just– they exude strength and competence. It’s not about being impregnable, as castles have been conquered left and right; it’s about the cleverness of the builders, about trying to find a way to resist one moment more than the opponent.

I wouldn’t live in a castle, mind you, but I do like looking at one.

**

From the Highlands of Scotland to the plains of northern India, Castles of the World is a beautiful examination of past worlds viewed through strongholds that continue to enrich the modern landscape. They evoke an imagined age of aristocratic warriors and noble aspirations. Presented in a handy, pocket-sized format, arranged chronologically and illustrated with more than 200 colour photographs, Castles of the World examines more than 150 fortifications from across the world, from Cathar castles and Alpine schlösser to Norman keeps and Samurai strongholds. Discover how the 13th-century Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland was destroyed during the Jacobite rebellion of 1719; learn about Turkey’s Marmaris Castle, built in 1522 by Suleiman the Magnificent to support his attack on neighbouring Rhodes; and explore the Mughal-constructed Red Fort in Delhi, home of Muslim rulers from 1648 until 1803, and today a symbol of Indian nationalism.

224 pages
Photography, history
Amber Books LTD
Goodreads

**

Cover: Lovely! I’m very partial to castles with a personality – the brown color many of them sport may be practical, but it’s also boring – and the contrast between Neuschwainstein and the landscape is striking. Great choice.

Yay!

  • CotW, written by Phyllis G. Jestice, is a visual travel among castles. From the oldest, built to withstand actual attacks, to the modern and more decorative ones, Jestice put together an informative book, filled with pictures and cultural tidbits. It might be a niche topic, but it sure is interesting. Built atop of hills, surrounded by moats, sometimes only reachable by boat, in the general imaginary they’re a stronghold; visiting them, even by proxy, feels like taking a step in the past.
  • Fairytales aside – Neuschwanstein, I’m talking to you – castles are the quintessence of defense, and the first sections explore that aspect. Until Late Medieval, the majority of them were fortified and made of stone, while stylistic elements were often mixed. Later on, they became less of a fortress and more of a residence for noble families. Big windows might raise eyebrows–cool target, Francis–but they’re mostly there as a show-off.
  • Very nice pictures, glossy and crisp. I would have loved some more details, like staircases or ceilings, but I’m a detail nerd, so XD
  • Good structure. As always, I appreciated the unobtrusive blurbs. They’re informative, but straight to the point. I know I’m always pointing this out, but I need to mention once more the lack of typos or grammar mistakes.

Special mention:

  • Carcassonne, France. My favorite castle, I went looking for it and I’m so glad I found it. I’ve been able to visit it once, it’s one of my fondest memories.
  • Bory Castle, Hungary. Pretty exterior aside, the details are fantastic.
  • Hluboká nad Vlavou Castle, Czech Republic. I love the photo angle.
  • Matsumoto Castle, Japan. Snow-capped!
  • Trakai Island, Lithuania. I love the footbridge.
  • Coca Castle, Spain. Mixed style, but what I adore is the moat.
  • Castillo de Bellver, Spain. It’s a circular castle, very peculiar.
  • La Alhambra, Spain. Impressive details, I’d love to see it in person.

Nay!

  • I wanted more! Sorry, castles are never enough, haha.

TL;DR
5 stars on GR, and well-deserved.

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