For those of us that live in North America, there are plenty of old buildings that date back a century or two. Very rarely do we see any buildings still standing after over a millennium of use. When you’re talking about Europe, though, there seems to be one every couple hundred feet. Many of these fortresses were built for medieval wars and homes to royalty.
These days, most of the old castles and fortresses are no longer in use outside of tourist spots, but it’s still impressive to see them standing after such a long time. If you want to see some of the oldest fortresses in the world, check out these five incredible ones that are over 1,000 years old.
Construction started at the beginning of the 11th century on Rochester Castle, which sits right off of the River Medway. Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester, was tasked with establishing the stronghold so that England could stave off any potential invasion. The castle did its job over the years, with some of the original structure still standing.
The first couple of centuries saw heavy use for Rochester Castle, and it became a significant figure in the reigns of King John and Henry III. Some of the castle still stands today, reaching a height of over 110 feet, and is now open to the public. Rochester Castle is a protected building and monument by the English Heritage.
The oldest fortress on the list is in the city of Aleppo, Syria. The Citadel of Aleppo (or Aleppo Citadel) has a history that dates all the way back to the 3rd millennium BC. There have been a lot of people occupying the castle since then, including the Byzantines and Ottomans. It would take a long time to describe the history of the Aleppo Citadel, but it wasn’t complete until the 12th century, showing how long it has been relevant.
In the modern era, the Aleppo Citadel has been restored as an attraction but was used as a fortress once again during the Syrian Civil War. The result was significant damage that left the Aleppo Citadel partially ruined. Hopefully, in the coming years, it can be restored to its former glory.
You have to go all the way back to the 9th century to find the origin of the Prague Castle, which serves as the office of the President of the Czech Republic. The first walls of the building were put up in 870, and expanded over the years. There have been times during the castle’s lifespan when it went completely uninhabited, including the Hussite Wars.
There has been a lot of rebuilding over the years due to damage from various conflicts, with World War II and the 1948 Czechoslovakian coup being the most recent ones. The castle, as it stands, has several churches, palaces, towers, and gardens (among other structures). It would be hard to even picture Prague without the castle, and nearly 2 million people visit it each year.
William the Conqueror needed a strong wooden fort to keep himself safe, and the original foundation of Warwick Castle was born in the early 11th century. After seeing a lot of battles over the following years, the castle was almost completely rebuilt as all of the wood was replaced by stone. It underwent another fortifying during the Hundred Years War, becoming what we know today.
Warwick Castle was in full-time use until the 1600s when it was given to Sir Fulke Greville, and went widely unused for centuries. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the castle was purchased and turned into a tourist attraction. Now, Warwick Castle is open to the public and operated by Merlin Entertainments, a company that specializes in attractions.
Located in the capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle has some mysterious origins. Though history says that it dates back to the 11th century, there are plenty of people who think that the castle was in use long before then. Edinburgh Castle’s documented history starts during the reign of David I and was the home to Scotland’s royalty until the 17th century.
Edinburgh Castle is an absolute stronghold and was in full use during multiple wars, including the Jacobite rising. Over time, Scotland moved away from housing royalty within the castle and used Edinburgh as a home for military operations. Eventually, the castle started to see bad signs of aging but has since been restored as a historical monument. Now, there are more than 2.2 million people who visit Edinburgh Castle each year, and it became a designated monument in 1993.