Arzens Castle

Arzens Castle

The Château d’Arzens is a castle in the commune of Arzens in the Aude département of France. The castle is privately owned, and dates from the 15th and 16th centuries.

History of Arzens Castle

Originally a fortified village, there is mention of a castle in Arzens as far back as 949AD.

The French Wars of Religion was a prolonged period of war and unrest fought between the Catholics and Huguenots between 1562 and 1598.

In 1574, following the Peace of La Rochelle which ended the fourth stage of the French Wars of Religion, the Huguenots seized the village.

The village remained under Huguenot control until 1591, when members of the Catholic League – also known as the Holy League, and with the intention of eradicating Protestantism from Catholic France – moved on Arzens and, after a long and hard-fought siege, captured it.

The village and the castle were burnt down and razed, the priests were killed on their altar, and then the church was burned. Only a single tower of the castle survived the blaze. Much of the site has since been rebuilt.

Arzens Castle Today

The castle is privately owned. It has been listed since 1948 as a ‘monument historique’ by the French Ministry of Culture.

Visitors can also enjoy the historic centre of Arzens, which still contains many old buildings. The church built at the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th century in the Languedoc style is a beautiful ogival building. The original consisted of three bays in the nave, a pentagonal choir with ogival vault and the square tower bell with spiral staircase.

Extensive vineyards surround the village, with the cultivation of wine in the area dating back to the 19th century.

Getting to Arzens Castle

From the centre of Toulouse, Arzens is reachable by car in around an hour to an hour and a half via the A61 road. From Montpellier, the site is reachable in around two to two and a half hours by car via the A9 and A61 roads.

White Castle (restaurant)

White Castle is an American regional hamburger restaurant chain with 377 locations across 13 states, with its greatest presence in the Midwest and New York metropolitan area. [4] It has been generally credited as the world's first fast-food hamburger chain, founded in 1921 (100 years ago) ( 1921 ) . [2] It is known for its small, square hamburgers referred to as "sliders". The burgers were initially priced at five cents until 1929 and remained at 10 cents until 1949. [5] In the 1940s, White Castle periodically ran promotional ads in local newspapers which contained coupons offering five burgers for ten cents, takeout only. [6] [7]

Despite being founded in Wichita, Kansas, the restaurant has not operated a location in the city since 1938. [8]

On January 14, 2014, Time labeled the White Castle slider as the most influential burger of all time. [9]


The beautiful gardens at Hever Castle were laid out between 1904 and 1908 by Joseph Cheal and Son, turning marshland into the spectacular gardens you see today, which are a pleasure to visit at any time of the year.

One of the most magnificent areas of the gardens is the Italian Garden, which was designed to display William Waldorf Astor’s collection of Italian sculptures. Over 1,000 men worked on the grand design, with around 800 men taking two years to dig out the 38-acre (14.2 ha) lake at the far end of the Italian Garden. Within four years the 125 acres (50 ha) of classical and natural landscapes were constructed and planted. The garden is only now reaching its full maturity and includes the colourful walled Rose Garden which contains over 4,000 bushes.

There are many water features around the gardens, including Half Moon Pond, the Cascade, the cool and shady grottoes, the formal Loggia fountain inspired by the Trevi fountain in Rome, and the less formal Two Sisters’ Pond.

Other areas that you can stroll through include the Tudor Garden, Rhododendron Walk and Anne Boleyn’s Walk, with its collection of trees planted more than 100 years ago.

In recent years, the present owners have made several changes to the gardens, including the installation of the Millennium Fountain that can be found on Sixteen Acre Island forming an interesting feature at the far end of this more informal area of the gardens. The 100-metre herbaceous border has been reinstated and Sunday Walk and Church Gill Walk created, providing a peaceful woodland garden following the course of a stream. In addition to the existing Yew Maze, a splashing Water Maze has been built on Sixteen Acre Island – a unique feature which is especially popular with children.

Windsor Castle

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Windsor Castle, English royal residence that stands on a ridge at the northeastern edge of the district of Windsor and Maidenhead in the county of Berkshire, England. The castle occupies 13 acres (5 hectares) of ground above the south bank of the River Thames. Windsor Castle comprises two quadrilateral-shaped building complexes, or courts, that are separated by the Round Tower. The latter is a massive circular tower that is built on an artificial mound and is visible for many miles over the surrounding flatland. The court west of the Round Tower is called the lower ward the court to the east is called the upper ward.

What is Windsor Castle?

Windsor Castle is an English royal residence including two building complexes, or courts, separated by a circular tower. The courts contain chapels and royal apartments. Windsor Castle is a tourist destination as well as a popular venue for royal weddings, including the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018.

When was Windsor Castle built?

William I first developed the site of Windsor Castle about 1070, constructing a mound with a stockade. Later rulers made a number of additions to the site: Henry II replaced the stockade with the stone Round Tower and outer walls Henry III added a royal chapel Edward III converted fortress buildings to royal apartments Charles II rebuilt those apartments and George IV reconstructed the apartments so they could be used by visitors of state as well as monarchs.

Where is Windsor Castle?

Windsor Castle is located at the northeastern edge of the district of Windsor and Maidenhead in the county of Berkshire, England.

Who is buried at Windsor Castle?

St. George’s Chapel is a chapel and royal mausoleum at Windsor Castle that contains the bodies of Henry VI, Edward IV, Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Charles I, Edward VII, and George V. George III, George IV, and William IV are buried at Albert Memorial Chapel, also in Windsor.

There was a royal residence at Windsor in Saxon times (c. 9th century). William I (“William the Conqueror”) developed the present site, constructing a mound with a stockade about 1070. Henry II replaced this with the stone Round Tower and added outer walls to the north, east, and south. In the 13th century Henry III completed the south wall and the western end of the lower ward and built a royal chapel on the site of the present-day Albert Memorial Chapel. Edward III made this chapel the centre of the newly formed Order of the Garter in 1348 and converted the fortress buildings in the upper ward to residential apartments for the monarchs. These apartments were rebuilt by Charles II and later reconstructed by George IV for use by visitors of state in addition to the monarchs.

The lower ward includes St. George’s Chapel and the Albert Memorial Chapel. St. George’s Chapel, designed to be the chapel of the Order of the Garter, was begun by Edward IV and is one of the best examples of Perpendicular Gothic-style architecture. It was completed in 1528 and restored between 1921 and 1930. It ranks next to Westminster Abbey as a royal mausoleum and contains the bodies of Henry VI, Edward IV, Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Charles I, Edward VII, and George V. The chapel also contains the impressive insignia of the Knights of the Garter. Albert Memorial Chapel, built by Henry VII as a royal mausoleum, was restored by Queen Victoria and named in memory of her consort. In this chapel are buried George III, George IV, and William IV.

The upper ward of the castle includes the private apartments of the monarch and private apartments for visitors. The state apartments in the upper ward include the Waterloo Chamber, St. George’s Hall, and the grand reception room. The upper ward is also the site of the royal library, which contains a priceless collection of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Hans Holbein the Younger, and other Old Masters. Fire destroyed the northeast corner of the upper ward in November 1992. Most of the paintings, furniture, and other movable treasures were saved, but more than 100 rooms, including St. George’s Hall, were destroyed or damaged. A successful restoration of the affected area was completed in 1997.

Adjacent to the castle on the south, east, and north is Home Park, which consists of approximately 500 acres (200 hectares) of parkland. Frogmore, the site of the mausoleum of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, lies within the park. South of the castle lies the Great Park, with about 1,800 acres (700 hectares). The Long Walk, a 3-mile (5-kilometre) avenue leading into the Great Park, was planted by Charles II in 1685 its aging elm trees were replaced by younger trees in 1945. Virginia Water, an artificial lake, lies at the southern boundary.


Location Edit

Eltville, which belongs culturally to the Rheingau region, lies on the River Rhine, 12 km west-southwest of Wiesbaden.

Neighbouring municipalities Edit

Eltville borders in the north on the municipalities of Schlangenbad and Kiedrich, in the east on the district-free city of Wiesbaden and the municipality of Walluf, in the south – separated by the Rhine – on the municipalities of Budenheim und Heidesheim and the town of Ingelheim (all three in Mainz-Bingen in Rhineland-Palatinate) and in the west on the town of Oestrich-Winkel.

Territorial structure Edit

Eltville am Rhein as a municipality consists of five Stadtteile:

All of them have the status as an Ortsbezirk.

The earliest traces of humans settling here go back to the New Stone Age. There has been continuous habitation since the late 4th century. Eltville had its first documentary mention in Vita Bardonis (Bardo's life) from 1058, a biography of Archbishop Bardo of Mainz. In 1329, the archiepiscopal castle and the town wall around Eltville were built. On 23 August 1332, Emperor Louis the Bavarian granted Eltville town rights. With the granting of town rights, Eltville ended up being a pawn in the then ongoing dispute between the Emperor and the Pope. Archbishop Baldwin, one of Emperor Louis's followers and administrator of the Mainz monastery, was the one who asked for Eltville to be raised to town. From 1347 to 1480, Eltville was the residence of the Archbishops of Mainz. In 1349, Günther of Schwarzburg was defeated in his bid for the German throne at the Siege of Eltville. From Dietrich Schenk von Erbach, Archbishop of Mainz (1434–1459), the outlying centre of Erbach presumably got its name.

Town council Edit

The municipal election held on 26 March 2006 yielded the following results:

Parties and voter communities %
CDU Christian Democratic Union 44.0 16 45.5 17
SPD Social Democratic Party 30.1 11 29.2 11
GREENS Bündnis 90/Die Grünen 9.8 4 10.7 4
FDP Free Democratic Party 5.0 2 5.2 2
BL Bürgerliste 7.0 3 5.4 2
REP The Republicans 4.1 1
WOK Wählergemeinschaft Opitz-Kaldenberg 4.0 1
Total 100.0 37 100.0 37
Voter turnout in % 54.4 51.3

Town partnerships Edit

The town of Eltville am Rhein maintains partnerships with these places:

Buildings Edit

  • Electoral castle from the 14th century, with a rose garden
  • Remains of town fortifications from the 16th and 18th centuries
  • Eberbach Cistercianmonastery
  • Clos of the Steinberg, Germany's best known clos (small, enclosed vineyard)
  • Schloss Reinhartshausen (palace)
  • St. Peter's and Paul's parish church from the 14th century
  • Pfarrkirche St. Markus (St. Mark's parish church) in Erbach from the 15th century and the Evangelical church in Erbach from the 19th century.
  • Kulturkirche Martinsthal (culture church)
  • Crass Castle

Regular events Edit

  • Gutenberg-Winter in Eltville – each year in January and February
  • Rheingauer Schlemmerwoche (gluttons' week) and Days of Open Wine Cellars with many wine samplings – late April/early May
  • Rosentage in Eltville (rose days) – each year on the first weekend in June
  • Erdbeerfest in Erbach (strawberry festival) – each year in mid-June
  • Sektfest Eltville – each year on the first weekend in July
  • Martinsthaler Weinfest – always on the second weekend in July – International Music Festival, in summer
  • Rauenthaler Weinfest – on the second or third weekend in August
  • Burghofspiele – in summer
  • Kappeskerb/Weinlesefest in Eltville (kermis/wine harvest festival) – each year on the last weekend in October
  • Rheingau Pokal ("cup" in taekwondo, fighting) – each year in mid-November
  • Musikalischer Winter in Eltville – each year on each Thursday from mid-November to late April
  • Christmas Market in the Old Town – on the second weekend in December.

Economy and tourism Edit

Eltville is developed for tourists, and well known for its wine and sekt production, which can be sampled at many wineries and Straußwirtschaften (seasonal wine shops). Eltville is the headquarters of MM-Sektkellerei (which today belongs to Rotkäppchen-Sekt), Hessische Staatsweingüter Kloster Eberbach (Hessian State Wine Estates of Eberbach Monastery), and Sektmanufaktur Schloss Vaux, as well as the biggest industrial employer in the Rheingau, Jean Müller GmbH Elektrotechnische Fabrik. Eltville is one of Germany's ten "Rosenstädte" (rose towns).

Transport Edit

Eltville lies on Bundesstraße 42, which towards the east is built like an Autobahn and near Walluf seamlessly joins the A 66. Eltville station also lies on the East Rhine Railway, which connects Frankfurt and Wiesbaden to Koblenz and Cologne and belongs to the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund. On the Rhine's bank are several landing stages for, among others, the Köln-Düsseldorfer Deutsche Rheinschiffahrt, a well known Rhine passenger ship operator.

Crathes sits on land given as a gift to the Burnetts of Ley family by King Robert the Bruce in 1323. [1]

In the 14th and 15th century the Burnett of Leys built a fortress of timbers on an island they made in the middle of a nearby bog. This method of fortification, known as a crannog, was common in the Late Middle Ages. Construction of the current tower house of Crathes Castle was begun in 1553 [2] but delayed several times during its construction due to political problems during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots.

It was completed in 1596 by Alexander Burnett of Leys, and an additional wing added in the 18th century. Alexander Burnett, who completed the construction of Crathes, began a new project, the early 17th-century reconstruction of nearby Muchalls Castle. That endeavour was completed by his son, Sir Thomas Burnett. Crathes Castle served as the ancestral seat of the Burnetts of Leys until Sir James Burnett, 13th Baronet gave it to the National Trust for Scotland in 1951. [3] A fire damaged portions of the castle (in particular the Queen Anne wing) in 1966. Another historically important structure in this region linked to the Burnett of Leys family is Monboddo House.

The castle contains a significant collection of portraits, and intriguing original Scottish renaissance painted ceilings survive in several Jacobean rooms: [4] the Chamber of the Muses, the Chamber of Nine Worthies and the Green Lady's Room.

The castle estate contains 530 acres (2.1 km 2 ) of woodlands and fields, including nearly 4 acres (1.6 ha) of walled garden. [5] Within the walled garden are gravel paths with surrounding specimen plants mostly in herbaceous borders. Many of the plants are labelled with taxonomic descriptions. There is also a grass croquet court at a higher terraced level within the walled garden. Ancient topiary hedges of Irish yew dating from 1702 separate the gardens into eight themed areas. [6] Crathes and its grounds are open to tourists throughout the year. A visitors centre provides information about the castle and its surroundings. There is a tea shop on site and a car park for any size of car.

In 2004 excavations at the castle uncovered a series of pits believed to date from about 10,000 years ago. The find was analysed in 2013 and is considered to be the world's oldest known lunar calendar dating from 8000 BC to about 4000 BC. [7] This dating would make the structure up to five thousand years older [7] than previously recorded time-measuring monuments in Mesopotamia. [8]

The site in Warren Field was identified from arial photography when unusual crop marks were seen by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. [8]


Mountains frame both ends of the region—the Cévennes to the northeast and the Pyrenees to the south. The area is known for its scenery, with jagged ridges, deep river canyons and rocky limestone plateaus, with large caves underneath. [ citation needed ] Rennes-le-Château was the site of a prehistoric encampment, and later a Roman colony, or at least Roman villa or temple, such as is confirmed to have been built at Fa, 5 km (3.1 mi) west of Couiza, part of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis, the wealthiest part of Roman Gaul.

Rennes-le-Château was part of Septimania in the 6th and 7th centuries. It has been suggested that it was once an important Visigothic town, with some 30,000 people living in the city around 500–600 AD. Until 1659–1745 the area was not considered French territory, being part of the Catalan Country since 988. [4] [5] [6] However, British archaeologist Bill Putnam and British physicist John Edwin Wood argued that while there may have been a Visigothic town on the site of the present village, it would have had "a population closer to 300 than 30,000". [7]

By 1050 the Counts of Toulouse held control over the area, building a castle in Rennes-le-Château around 1002, [8] though nothing remains above ground of this medieval structure—the present ruin is from the 17th or 18th century. [9]

Several castles in the surrounding Languedoc region were central to the battle between the Catholic Church and the Cathars at the beginning of the 13th century. Other castles guarded the volatile border with Spain. Whole communities were wiped out in the campaigns of the Catholic authorities to rid the area of the Cathar heretics, the Albigensian Crusades, and again when French Protestants fought against the French monarchy two centuries before the French Revolution.

Historical population
YearPop. ±%

The village church dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene has been rebuilt several times. The earliest church of which there is any evidence on the site may date to the 8th century. However, this original church was almost certainly in ruins by the 10th or 11th century, when another church was built upon the site—remnants of which can be seen in Romanesque pillared arcades on the north side of the apse. This survived in poor repair until the 19th century, [10] when it was renovated by the local priest, Bérenger Saunière. Surviving receipts and existing account books belonging to Saunière reveal that the renovation of the church, including works on the presbytery and cemetery, cost 11,605 Francs over a ten-year period between 1887 and 1897. [11] With inflation that figure is equivalent to approximately 30 million Francs as of 2019, or 4.5 million Euros.

Among Saunière's external embellishments was the Latin inscription Terribilis est locus iste displayed prominently on the lintel of the main entrance its literal and most obvious translation is "This place is terrible" [12] the rest of the dedication, over the doors' arch, reads "this is God's house, the gate of heaven, and it shall be called the royal court of God." The quotation comes from Genesis 28:17. [13]

Inside the church, one of the figures installed by Saunière was of the demon Asmodeus holding up the holy water stoup. [14] Its original head was stolen in 1996 and has never been recovered. [15] A devil-like figure holding up the holy water stoup is a rare and unusual choice for the interior decoration of a Church but not exclusive to the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene a similar subject can be seen in the Saint Vincent Collegiate church in Montréal, a short distance from Rennes-le-Château. [ citation needed ]

The new figures and statues were not made especially for this church, [16] but were chosen by Saunière from a catalogue published by Giscard, sculptor and painter in Toulouse who, among other things, offered statues and sculptures for church refurbishment. [17] [18]

Saunière also funded the construction of Tour Magdala, a tower-like structure originally named the Tour de L'horloge and later renamed after Saint Mary Magdalene. Saunière used it as his library. The structure includes a circular turret with twelve crenellations, on a belvedere that connected it to an orangery. The tower has a promenade linking it to the Villa Bethania, which was not actually used by the priest. He stated at his trial that it was intended as a home for retired priests. [19] Surviving receipts and existing account books belonging to Saunière reveal that the construction of his estate (including the purchases of land) between 1898 and 1905 cost 26,417 Francs. [20]

Following Saunière's renovations and redecoratations, the church was re-dedicated in 1897 by his bishop, Monsignor Billard. [21] [22]

In 1910–1911, Bérenger Saunière was summoned by the bishopric to appear before an ecclesiastical trial to face charges of trafficking in masses. He was found guilty and suspended of the priesthood. When asked to produce his account books, he refused to attend his trial.

Supporters [ who? ] of the hypothesis that Rennes-le-Château and its environs enshrine unsolved enigmas have suggested that Saunière's estate was set up on a large-scale checkerboard, [23] while others [ who? ] have suggested that Saunière produced a Mirror image of selected architectural features of his property. They [ who? ] also claim that Maurice Barrès's novels Roman à clef and The Sacred Hill [24] are largely based on the Rennes-le-Château story involving Bérenger Saunière (while novels by Jules Verne are cited to show that the enigma predates Abbé Saunière). [25]

The village received up to 100,000 tourists each year at the height of popularity of Dan Brown's bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code. [26] The modern reputation of Rennes-le-Château rests mainly in claims and stories, dating from the mid-1950s, concerning the 19th-century parish priest Bérenger Saunière, leading researchers Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln to write The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, which became a bestseller in 1982 their work in turn fuelled the premise of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, published in 2003.

The first known popular article about Saunière was written by Roger Crouquet in the Belgian magazine Le Soir illustré, published in 1948. [27] The author was visiting the Aude to meet his friend Jean Mauhin, a Belgian who had moved to Quillan to open a bell and hat factory, and at his suggestion visited Rennes-le-Château. There Crouquet collected testimonies from villagers about Saunière. One person [ who? ] told how the priest "preferred wine and women to practising the priesthood. At the end of the last century he had a rather original idea. He placed in foreign newspapers, especially in the United States, an advertisement announcing that the poor priest of Rennes-le-Château lived among heretics and had only the most meagre of resources. He moved the Christians of the whole world to such pity by announcing that the old church, an architectural gem, was heading for unavoidable ruin if urgent restoration work was not undertaken as soon as possible." [ citation needed ] Crouquet added: "The stoup which decorates the entrance to the chapel is carried by a horned devil with cloven hooves. An old woman remarked to us: 'It's the old priest, changed into a devil'."

Crouquet's article faded into obscurity and it was left to Noël Corbu, a local man who had opened a restaurant in Saunière's former estate (called L'Hotel de la Tour) in the mid-1950s, to turn the village into a household name. Corbu began circulating stories that, while renovating his church in 1892, Saunière had discovered "parchments" connected with the treasure of Blanche of Castile, and which "according to the archives" consisted of 28,500,000 gold pieces, said to be the treasure of the French crown assembled by Blanche to pay the ransom of Louis IX (a prisoner of the infidels), whose surplus she had hidden at Rennes-le-Château. Having found only part of it, Saunière continued his investigations beneath the church and in other parts of his domain. [28]

Corbu, followed by Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln, asserts that Rennes-le-Château had been the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom Rhedae, while other sources [ who? ] postulate Rhedae's hub as Narbonne. [ citation needed ] Corbu's claim can be traced back to a book by Louis Fédié entitled Le comté de Razès et le diocèse d'Alet (1880), that contained a chapter on the history of Rennes-le-Château published as a booklet in 1994. [29] Noël Corbu incorporated this story into his essay L'histoire de Rennes-le-Château, deposited at the Departmental Archives at Carcassonne on 14 June 1962. Fédié's assertions concerning the population and importance of Rhedae have since been questioned in the work of archaeologists and historians. [30] [31]

Corbu's story was published in the book by Robert Charroux Trésors du monde in 1962, [32] that caught the attention of Pierre Plantard, who, through motives which remain unclear, used and adapted Corbu's story involving the apocryphal history of the Prieuré de Sion, inspiring the 1967 book L'Or de Rennes by Gérard de Sède. [33] Sède's book contained reproductions of parchments allegedly discovered by Saunière alluding to the survival of the line of Dagobert II, from which Plantard claimed descent. Plantard and Sède fell out over book royalties and Philippe de Chérisey, Plantard's friend, was revealed [ by whom? ] to have forged some parchments as part of a putative plot. Plantard and Chérisey lodged documents relating to the Prieuré de Sion in France's Bibliothèque Nationale. [30]

Corbu's story inspired author Robert Charroux to develop an active interest, and in 1958, he, along with his wife Yvette and other members of The Treasure Seekers' Club which he founded in 1951, scoured the village and its church for treasure with a metal detector. [34]

In 1969, Henry Lincoln, a British researcher and screenwriter for the BBC, read Gérard de Sède's book while on holiday in the Cévennes. He produced three BBC2 Chronicle documentaries between 1972 and 1979 and worked some of their material into the 1982 non-fictional bestseller, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, co-written with fellow researchers Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh. [35] Their book concludes that the Prieuré de Sion, via the Knights Templar, guarded the Merovingian bloodline, that this dynasty descended from a supposed marriage of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene, and that Pierre Plantard was a modern-day descendant it suggested that Saunière may have discovered that secret and amassed his wealth through blackmail of the Holy See. Despite its popularity, historians [ who? ] think the book advances faulty premises and that several of its arguments [ which? ] merit questioning.

The bloodline hypotheses of Lincoln, Baigent and Leigh were later picked up in 2003 by Dan Brown's bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code. While his novel never specifically mentioned Rennes-le-Château, Brown gave some its key characters related names, such as 'Saunière' and 'Leigh Teabing' (anagrammatically derived from 'Leigh' and 'Baigent'). The latter two authors brought (and lost) a plagiarism suit against Brown in 2006. The extraordinary popularity of The Da Vinci Code has reignited the interest of tourists, who visit Rennes-le-Château to view the sites associated with Saunière. [ citation needed ]

1. Antiquity

The origin of the name Arzĕn reflecting the Armenian pronunciation is unknown, but non-Armenian. Its site, on the banks of the river Garzan Su ancient Nicephorius in southeastern Turkey, was visited and identified in the early 1860s by John George Taylor, then British consul in Diyarbakir, who sketched its outline in his Travels in Kurdistan.

In 1995–96, T. A. Sinclair identified Arzen with the site of Tigranocerta, the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Armenia founded by Tigranes the Great, instead of previously current identifications with Martyropolis or Kızıltepe.

In Classical Antiquity, Arzen was the chief city and capital of the district of Arzanene. Under the Kingdom of Armenia, Arzanene was governed by a march-warden bdeasx. In the peace of 297, the city along with the rest of the district of Arzanene, and the neighbouring districts of Sophene, Ingilene, Zabdicene and Corduene was ceded to the Roman Empire by the Sasanian emperor Narseh, but returned to Sasanian control in 363. The office of bdeasx apparently continued to be filled, as a holder named Hormizd is mentioned by Procopius in 528 leading a Sasanian army.

The city is attested as a bishopric of the Syriac Church for the first time c. 410, as a suffragan of Nisibis. In the 5th and 6th centuries it was a bastion of the Sasanians in their recurrent wars with the Byzantine Empire. Its strategic importance derived from its location on the route from Amida in Upper Mesopotamia via Lake Van to the Armenian Highlands and the Armenian capitals of Artaxata and Dvin. In 578, according to Theophylact Simocatta, 10.000 people from the district were forcibly resettled by the Byzantines to Cyprus.

Hearst Castle

William Randolph Hearst started to build a fabulous estate on his ranchland overlooking the village of San Simeon in 1919. He called the estate "La Cuesta Encantada" - Spanish for The Enchanted Hill. By 1947, the hilltop complex included a twin-towered main building, three sumptuous guesthouses, and 127 acres of terraced gardens, fountains, and pools.

The fanciful Gothic Study is the centerpiece of Hearst's private suite on the third floor of "Casa Grande" - the main building of the hilltop estate at San Simeon. He previewed his newspapers every night here before printing. The concrete arches were decorated by Camille Solon in 1934-35, but the historic Spanish ceiling dates from the early 1400s.

The world-famous outdoor swimming pool at Hearst Castle was refilled in August 2018 after two years of restoration and repair. With water that refracts light to create a brilliant turquoise hue, the Neptune Pool is a photographer’s delight.

Bloody Beginnings

Chillingham was occupied from prehistoric times. During the Second World War, an impromptu excavation in the castle grounds by a German POW uncovering flint and antler arrowheads and axes dating to the Bronze Age. These tools may be evidence of a prehistoric hunting camp. Or it may have been an early manifestation of war. By the Iron Age, local tribes had established a fort at Chillington, on nearby Ross Hill, which overlooks the present castle&rsquos grounds. Perhaps this was the original ‘homestead of Ceofel&rsquo that gives Chillingham its name.

By the 1200s, the conflict was increasing along the borderlands between England and Scotland. Monks had built a house on the land below Ross Hill. This monastery was converted into a fortified manor house with just one tower and a curtain wall. The monarchy placed the new castle in the hands of the Grey family in 1246. The Greys were descendants of the Croys, kin of William the Conqueror. Tasked with holding the border around Chillingham, it was they who turned the manor into a fortress, constructing its dungeons, torture chamber and battlements.

In 1297, the First Scottish War of Independence broke out. That same year, the forces of William Wallace raided Chillington, burning local women and children alive in a church. However, in 1298, Edward I, &ldquothe Hammer of the Scots&rdquo made Chillington his base for the campaign against Scotland. Chillington&rsquos dungeon began to fill with enemy prisoners- Scottish women and children, as well as soldiers and spies. Legend says that King Edward personally appointed the man who was to deal with them: John Sage.

The Rack at Chillington Castle. Google Images.

Sage was supposedly a soldier who had risen through the ranks to become a lieutenant in Edward&rsquos army. When a leg injury forced him to retire from combat, he begged the King to find him a role. So, Edward, had him appointed torturer at Chillington castle. Sage was a sadist and hated the Scots. Over the three years of war, he reputedly tortured some 50 prisoners a week. When the war ended, Sage burnt the remaining adult prisoners alive in the grounds of the castle while their children watched from what is known as the Edward Room or Killing Room. Sage later hacked these children to death with an ax still displayed in the castle.

In all, 7500 Scottish prisoners reputedly died at Chillington their bodies dumped into its lake. John Sage also met his end at Chillington. One evening, Sage killed his lover Elizabeth Charlton, strangling her during a sex game on the rack in Chillington&rsquos torture chamber. Unfortunately for Sage, Elizabeth&rsquos father was a leader of the powerful border reivers, outlaw gangs who plagued the borderlands but were vital to the fight against the Scots. To avoid losing the Reivers to the enemy, Edward I handed Sage over to justice. He was sentenced to hang at Chillington but was torn apart while he still lived. Others would soon join Sage&rsquos ghost and those of his victims.

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