Medieval castles offer amazing insight into the past. Built predominantly between the years 1000 and 1550, these structures were primarily intended to serve as defensive strongholds. Whether you are talking about Europe or other continents, the medieval era was full of skirmishes and battles. The borders of so many countries had yet to be determined, and powerful clans and families fought to expand their feudal territories. Because they were mainly intended to protect certain regions, the castles of the Middle Ages were strong, and while many are in ruins today, the fact that so many exist at all gives testament to the fact that they were far sturdier than most other structures of the day.
The history of medieval castles has a lot to do with their overall allure. Many of the most famous personalities from the history of Europe have been attached to castles. Hever Castle in England was the former childhood home of Anne Boleyn, for example, and Chinon Castle in France was where Joan of Arc sought out Charles VII while trying to build up an army for the Hundred Years War.
Many medieval castles have been attacked during their long lives, and while some were seized during battle, others managed to fend invaders off. This only adds to their historical appeal, and even if a specific castle was never attacked, chances are good that it was almost thrust into battle on more than one occasion. This explains the arrow slots that you see in many of the medieval castle walls. One castle from the Middle Ages that certainly saw its fair of action was Edinburgh Castle. In 1573, 1650, and 1688, it was sieged, and this is just part of the story.
Since medieval castles were often attacked, they needed to have adequate means of protection. Moats were common parts of a medieval castle, and these bodies of water helped to form a barrier between the walls and the outside world. An excellent example of a medieval castle with a moat is Bodiam Castle, which can be found in East Sussex England. Other parts of a medieval castle that helped in terms of protection were towers and high outside walls. Ramparts, or castle walkways, were also common, as they provided excellent vantage points for those who found themselves within the castle walls. At many medieval castles, you can walk along the ramparts and enjoy splendid tower views.
The most iconic castles of the Middle Ages are found in Europe, and the don't only include the castles of Ireland, the UK, or France. The Italy castles also include some fabulous castles, and some of the very best can be found among the castles of Denmark and Spain.
It's not all about Europe when it comes to medieval castles. In Japan, for example, you can find some medieval castles, and they are among the most unique castles that you will find anywhere. Few medieval castles in Japan survived, though there are a few that provide wonderful insight into the history of Japan and Japanese architecture. Among the best are Kumamoto Castle, Matsumoto Castle, and Himeji Castle.