Who doesn’t love a great castle tour?
Maybe it’s a North American thing to be obsessed with castles. The closest we come to it here are the “castle wannabes” built by the obscenely rich.
But wait … isn’t that exactly what happened in the centuries past? The obscenely rich, wanting to flaunt their wealth, built the great castles we admire today.
Take Gravensteen in Ghent, Belgium for example.
It was built in 1180 by Philip of Alsace, the Count of Flanders, as a deliberate show of power and wealth with the intention of intimidating those who opposed him.
Gravensteen remained the family residence until 1353 after which it went through a number of different lives – including that of a courthouse and prison. It quickly developed a reputation as a place used for torture and other atrocities which eventually led it to being slated for demolition in the late 1800s.
It was saved from the wrecking ball and restored for its architectural and historical significance, however some of the details of the current castle are not considered to be historically accurate.
Regardless, it’s an impressive place to visit.
We arrived shortly after the castle opened to the public for the day, which turned out to be good planning on our part. The site was relatively quiet and we were able to navigate around the building easily with minimal crowds. The same can’t be said for the long lines of students waiting at the entrance as we were leaving.
Which brings me to the tour itself.
It was a self-guided tour but this one was in the form of a fairy-tale like story told about the Count and life at the castle. I can’t vouch for how much was truth or fiction, but the narration was often laugh-out-loud funny … at least to me and my somewhat odd sense of humour.
I’m sure the story was written for adult audiences. It was filled with violence and sexual innuendo which left both Gilles and I wondering if children were given the same version of this story!!
By North American standards, the story we listened to simply would not fly on a school outing. Parents would be frothing at the mouth with outrage.
But the doors!!
It was like someone predicted that someday there would be a group of international door aficionados who would appreciate all the interesting and unusual doors throughout the castle.
There were so many doors to choose from that I decided to break it up into two posts, so stay tuned for more from Gravensteen.
This post has been brought to you this week by Thursday Doors with a side helping of implied violence and sexual impropriety. No doors were harmed in the making of this post.
Thursday Doors is hosted by Norm Frampton from Norm 2.0.