Mausoleum of Hadrian Turned into Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant'Angelo from the South by Caspar van Wittel. Oil on canvas.
Castel Sant’Angelo from the South by Caspar van Wittel. Oil on canvas.

When you are heading to the Vatican, you can’t avoid seeing an amazing ancient bridge (foot traffic only) decorated with angel sculptures, and a mighty, brown building of original architecture near it. The Castle of the Holy Angel in the center of Rome, Italy, started its history as a mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 139 AD. In 250 years, it became a castle when the young and rising power, the Christian Church, started to replace pagan Roman buildings with Christian ones.

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Lost Miracle or Farewell Miranda Castle

Miranda Castle, Belgium. Demolished in 2017.

Miranda Castle, Belgium. Demolished in 2017.

Why is Belgium so good? Everything is located nearby there: abandoned and preserved medieval castles, abbeys, and palaces. It is only 160 km from Brussels to Bouillon Castle and its counterpart on the French side, the fortress of Sedan. Do you have a sedan in your garage? Well, guess the origin of this word.

We had a great route because Belgium is a country that is known for its magnificent castles. But most of all, Irina, my wife, wanted to see one of them in particular: Château Miranda, the abandoned and dying Château de Noisy. However, everything should be done in its own good time, ladies and gentlemen, otherwise your dream might not come true.

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Puilaurens Castle: The Last Cathar Fortress

Ruins of the Cathar castle of Puilaurens, Languedoc, France.

Ruins of Cathar castle of Puilaurens, Languedoc, France.

In the 13th century, the Cathar Crusade of Pope Innocent III against heretics of Languedoc brought to submission many cities in the South of France. To his crusaders, the pope promised all the lands which they would free of Cathars. Of course, landlords of Languedoc didn’t like the idea of their properties being used as a prize. Together with the Cathars, they held the fort in their castles for 10, 20, and, in some cases, 50 years. Most of the castles were located on inaccessible rocks. Today, you will find just their remnants, but some of them have kept their greatness.

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