Love stories of damsels in distress and brave knights on white horses – this is part of our history and cultural ancestry. The biggest modern day reminder of Medieval heroes and grand romantic gestures are castles. There is something about those monumental buildings with vast, lush gardens and prodigal furnishing that makes us dream and feel all nostalgic.
Influenced by ancient mythology, Geek and Roman culture some castles simply throw us in awe. However, there are a few of them which awaken even stronger feelings when you see them. They are the castles of love – eternal monuments of love declarations expressed through architecture. Since Valentine’s Day is just at our doors, I decided to step back in history and find some of the most romantic gestures ever made by mighty men for their fair maidens.
Taj Mahal – The Tragedy of a Love That Knows No Boundaries
If we have learnt one thing from our history, it’s that stories of tragedies echo through the centuries while happy ones get quickly forgotten. Taj Mahal is a mausoleum, built in memoriam of a loved one. Its construction was ordered by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan after the death of his third wife Mutmaz Mahal.
Heartbroken after the lost of his dear one, Jahan ordered the construction of a tomb which would remain in history as the most magnificent shrine created by a man for a woman. The unique architecture combining Persian, Islamic and Indonesian styles, the original (albeit already stolen) lavish lapis lazuli and turquoise decoration and translucent white marble have earned Taj Mahal a rightful place amongst the Seven Wonders of the World.
Kellie’s Castle – An Unfinished Love Letter
Kellie’s Castle is the oldest castle built in Malaysia. The project was started in 1915 by Scottish landowner William Kellie Smith as a present for his wife. Having blessed him with a son, she was incredibly homesick in a far away country with far too different culture. The building plan was magnificent combining Moorish, Indian and Greco-Roman styles. However, the construction didn’t go as planned after the Spanish flu epidemic took the lives of over 70 Indian workers. To please the locals and convince them to continue building the castle, Kellis created a Hindu temple just next to the castle. Despite his best efforts he never got to finish his love declaration as he died of pneumonia shortly after a trip to England where he went to retrieve a lift for the castle tower. Thus, the Kellie’s Castle remained an unfinished love letter to a loved one.
Today, you can still see the remains of what was about to become one of the most amazing castles on the globe. Local people still believe that the abandoned ruins are haunted and refuse to go near it.
Boldt Castle – Where Tragedy Meets Happy Ending
Boldt Castle was going to be a 1905 Valentine’s Day present by George Boldt to his Wife. Designed in classic Medieval Victorian style, it was supposed to be the largest and most lustrous estate in the Thousand Islands, New York. The five-acre estate consists of eleven buildings, each of them utterly fascinating. However, as I mentioned very few love stories that have left their mark in our history have a happy ending. Just a year before the project was finalised and Boldt Castle was ready, Louise Boldt (George Boldt’s wife) passed away. Desperate and heartbroaken, George Boldt immediately cut off the construction work, never to set foot on Heart Island, New York where the lovely castle remained unfinished.
How is this a happy ending? After years of being defaced by vandals, the Boldt Castle was finally restored and turned into a wedding venue. Hundreds of couples celebrate their love there, drawn by the romance of the place.
As you can see, love stories and castles might have a bit of a tragic aftertaste but today all of these castles are considered architectural treasures. They attract hundreds of visitors fascinated by the dazzling construction and heartbreaking love stories.