In the heart of Transylvania, one of Europe’s largest castles looks like it sits atop a rocky bluff with naught but a thin bridge allowing access.
But this is simply Corvin Castle, which looks like something straight out of a fairytale, largely because restorers thought that it should.
Built in the mid-15th century, the castle was the work of Hungarian military leader John Hunyadi, who built the tall structure over the remains of a keep built by Charles I.
It consists of a series of rectangular halls that are connected by both circular and rectangular towers that were used for both defense and as prison cells. The elaborate architecture was designed in a rich gothic style, that accentuates the already impressive architecture.
The castle was kept in regal condition during Hunyadi’s lifetime, but after he died, the castle fell into swift decline.
It was not until the 17th century that there was more interest in restoring the castle. As the restorations began, the workers redesigned the castle somewhat to reflect what they considered a gothic castle should look like, which explains much of its currently fanciful look.
A number of legends are associated with the castle, the most prominent among them being that Vlad the Impaler spent some seven years in the dungeons of Corvin Castle, a stay which resulted in his eventual madness.
Even though this is unlikely to be true, Corvin Castle still seems like just the sort of place where a Dracula might have been held.
Since childhood, baker José Paronella had dreamed of building a Moorish castle.
In 1913, the adventurous then 26-year-old left his village in Catalonia and moved to tropical northern Australia. There, he eventually found wealth as a sugar cane farmer, and was able to pursue his dream.
In 1929, Paronella purchased a plot of rainforest in Queensland and began building his castle by hand, using sand, clay, old train tracks, gravel from the nearby creek, and wood taken from abandoned houses.
By 1935, the structure had expanded to include a pool, cafe, cinema and ballroom, as well as tennis courts and villa gardens with a grand staircase – all open to the public.
After Paronella’s death in 1948, the building suffered decades of neglect, but conservation efforts mean the castle is alive again.
Lush tropical plants have encroached upon and mingled with Paronella’s hand-built stairs and fountains, making them look like they sprouted from their natural surroundings.