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Back in time: a week of castles

By Haley Seger
On February 22, 2012

LONDON — This week was the week of castles. I've always thought castles were fascinating, and London and the rest of Great Britain certainly have plenty of them to choose from. In this week alone, I managed to visit three.

The first castle I visited was the Tower of London, which was a trip included in my History of London class. Most people associate the Tower with a prison as opposed to a castle where people once lived and worked, but the

Tower was one of the homes of England's rulers long before it became a prison. Although it was once farther

outside of the city of London, the city has expanded outward, making it a central part of the sites of London.

The Tower is a huge tourist attraction because of its bloody history and its status as the home of the crown jewels, and despite being built around 1100 (and added to over the centuries), is carefully maintained. Unfortunately, my class was a bit rushed through the Tower because it closed earlier than the professor had thought, but I still had the chance to see the key parts of the Tower, including the

crown jewels, the White Tower where important prisoners were kept and Traitor's Gate. The next castle I visited was

Caerphilly Castle just outside of Cardiff, Wales. A couple of my friends and I signed up for the trip to Wales to see more of Great Britain, and a tour of this castle happened to be included. I had never heard of it before, despite the brochure for our trip telling us that it was the largest castle

in Wales and second largest in Great Britain. (The Windsor

Castle was the largest.) Unlike the Tower of London, the

castle is mostly ruins. Castles are by definition originally built to be fortresses and later turned into homes, but Caerphilly Castle remained a fortress, making it less appealing to maintain than other castles in Back in time: a week of castles the area. Although parts of it have been

repaired to make it a more tempting stop for tourists, the castle still shows signs of destruction that occurred in mid-17th century. However, I was surprisingly ok with the state of the castle. Somehow the ruins and lack of visitors made it seem more authentic. Despite the cold weather, I really enjoyed being able to climb along the walls and check out the views of the surrounding area. My third castle was Cardiff Castle. Like the Tower of London, Cardiff Castle was originally a fortress around which a town happened to grow, ultimately becoming the capital of Wales.

Unfortunately, I did not have the time to actually go into this

castle, but I had the chance to wander around the outside of it and take some pictures. The castle did look like it

had been maintained better than Caerphilly Castle, but because it is in the middle of the capital of Wales, I'm sure it gets more visitors. In the midst of visiting all of these castles, I reached the one month mark of my time in London. It's hard to believe how fast it has gone by. Fortunately, I still have three more months to go.

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