Sunday, March 20, 2011

My top three castles: Bojnice, Osaka and Heidelberg

Coming from Australia, where castles don't really exist - well, except for the movie The Castle! - I've long been fascinated by these structures, right from when I was a kid and the Disney castle would show up on TV every Sunday night. And my sentimental yearning for the Disney castle is what has put Bojnice Castle in western Slovakia at the top of my castle list - and here's why.

Bojnice Castle, Slovakia
This picture is taken in Slovakia, at Bojnice. (It's a short-ish drive from Bratislava - a great day trip - and they even do guided tours in English. Well worth it as it's a castle with some fascinating history).

Castle at Tokyo Disneyland, Japan
And this picture was taken at Tokyo Disneyland in Japan. I think you'll agree there is more than a passing resemblance (or if you don't, trust me, there is!) and for me it confirms the rumour I'd heard that the Disney castles were inspired by Bojnice. If you happen to know that this isn't true, please don't burst my bubble!

Osaka Castle, Japan
My second favourite castle is a "real" one in Japan - well, it's real on the outside. This is Osaka Castle during the gorgeous cherry blossom season. I love its colour and all its little flares, and although some might be disappointed that the internal part of Osaka Castle has been totally renovated to the point that it includes an elevator, I think that absolutely sums up Japan for me: a very curious mix of ancient and modern.

Heidelberg Castle, Germany
And rounding out my top three, probably also for sentimental reasons, is Heidelberg Castle in south-west Germany. I've enjoyed climbing about its ruined parts, I love that it overlooks the town and the river and I have a soft spot for it after taking several groups of friends and family to see it.

But there are thousands of other impressive castles across the world - so please tell me about your favourite in the comments.


  1. oh no!! amanda! no! how can cheesy osaka castle be on your list! Himeji Castle is far superior and not too much further down the road. I went to Himeji castle whilst on homestay and was so impressed by it - i'm sure it has reno's along the way but it was authentic...then i visited Osaka castle whilst living in Japan the second time and was sooooo disappointed :( i can't believe it has an elevator and interactive computer info along the way. from the outside, yes, very beautiful, but from the no! (you did mention that though...)
    the other two look amazing and inspire me to start saving my pennies for the next big adventure with the two little adventurers in tow!

  2. LOL I knew Osaka Castle would be controversial! And true, Himeji is spectacular. But it doesn't have the sentimental value for me! I have so many great memories of time spent in and around Osaka Castle (remember it's set in a huge park, right in the middle of Osaka) - most memorably I was there when they made a giant okonomiyaki (maybe 3 or more metres wide) - that's a memory I don't have from Himeji!!!!! So, that's my excuse :-)
    Have you seen my 25 years ago in Europe series - I can just imagine you guys and your little boys in a campervan! Get J to start saving up the long service leave!

  3. well you got me thinking that's for sure!! i do have some great memories around osaka castle too i must admit but i think i totally missed out by not seeing the giant okonomiyaki - that would have been awesome, especially when they started cutting it up and handing it around. i do love osaka for the food YUM! i was living about 30mins away from Namba station near Hirakata (town was named Tonda) and lived in Himeji for homestay. gosh i love japan! would love to take the boys there one day too. those poor people...wonder how long the rebuildinng process will take...
    yes have been following your 25years ago in europe. we were talking about our plans today and trying to figure out when would be a good time to take them...yippee! can't wait to take them out and introduce them to the world a little more!

  4. The giant okonomiyaki was incredible - in fact just for you I will write up and schedule a post about it soon! Hirakata rings a bell but which direction from Namba? I was west of Namba - at first only about 5 stops but moved out near Nara (hey there's a post coming up about that place too, already written!). If anyone can rebuild in a fast and tidy fashion it'll be the Japanese, I'd say.

  5. I actually preferred Osaka castle to Himeji castle, too. Though the gardens next to Himeji castle were awesome.
    Funny, I never thought of myself as a castle person, but I loved both the one in Heidelberg and Osaka.

  6. hmmmm...i think it was to the north east...but that is kind of the nara direction isn't it? i was half way between Osaka and Kyoto, so which ever direction that was!!
    agreed the japanese will sort it all out in an orderly fashion - great people with such strength of character.
    really must plan a trip to your other two castles so we can agree on those two at least :)

  7. Steffi, thanks for backing me up on the Osaka Castle choice!! Of course I did love Himeji too, but Osaka just wins it for me.

  8. ok, ok....the view from the top of Osaka castle was stunning, I'll give you that...but as a true history buff it just didn't give me that buzz and sense of amazement...I couldn't close my eyes and imagine how life really was way back when it was a living, functioning castle. that's the only reason Himeji wins for me!
    perhaps a joint trip is in order Amanda so when can discuss the merits of each as we are enjoying some okonomiyaki nom nom nom!

  9. Amanda!!! Osaka castle?! A castle has to have historically maintained and authentic innards as well, otherwise it's just pretending to be a castle!
    My favourite castle in Japan is Shurii-jo in Okinawa. It's a castle both inside and out! Can I vote for the whole of the Loire valley as one castle? There are some spectacular chateaux there!
    I'd like to be nationalistic and promote the wonders of Welsh castles too. We have more castles per square mile than any other country in the world! Particular favourites are Castle Coch, Caerphilly and Cardiff.

  10. I knew you'd say that, Rhi!! But just wait for my sentimentally-justifying-giant-okonomiyaki-experience post, coming soon! Then you might understand my love for Osaka Castle (actually, you probably won't, but it's worth a try).

    I am very impressed that Wales has more castles/square mile than anywhere else and I must say I had no idea that this was so. I must investigate!

    Hmm, anyway so far it's two for and two against for Osaka Castle. Could be worse I suppose!

  11. Wales has over 600 castles Amanda!!!

  12. 600!!! That's insane. Do you have space left for anything else?! Maybe Rhi you would like to write a guest post for my blog on the best castles of Wales?

  13. Oooo, I love castles -- ALL the castles I've ever seen -- including Osaka's. Its exterior looks almost magical in the glimmering of dusk.

  14. I'm glad you back up my love for Osaka Castle!! It is a bit magical for me too.


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