That one fortress I kept seeing everywhere

Aside from the National Museum of Catalan Art and Tibidabo, the other hilltop structure that I kept seeing all over from the rooftops of Barcelona was the Montjuïc Castle, a military fortress that sits atop of the Montjuïc hill next to a seaside port.

It has a rich Catalan history that spans nearly 400 years. Not a lot of tourists tend to venture on these parts, so lucky me, I almost had the entire place to myself.

Gotta say, it was pretty windy up there.

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Near Culloden is the city of Inverness. This was where we stayed at when we visited the areas around Culloden. It’s an old city, very picturesque and pretty. The one-way streets, though, are rather strange and kinda stressful. I don’t know how to describe it. They’re one-way, but used as a two-way, but you have to wait your turn. I don’t know…

Anyway, we took a stroll around the area the day we left and climbed up to the hill where the Inverness Castle stood. The castle is, unfortunately, not open to the public and is actually currently being used as a courthouse.

One thing I noticed, most of the building and houses in Scotland were built with stone walls or tiny-pebbled roughcast, very different from England where most of the houses and buildings were built with bricks. I likes.

Also worth mentioning, the Scots were some of the  friendliest, most helpful and welcoming people I’ve ever came across, very similar to the Irish. Despite the constant gloomy weather, we haven’t came across anyone grumpy or unpleasant. Very refreshing.


Urquhart Castle

Situated next to the infamous Loch Ness is the ruins of the Urquhart Castle. Once used both as fortress and as royal castle, this structure has endured numerous conflicts, particularly the Scottish war for independence, throughout its thousand years of existence, before finally being left in ruins during the Jacobite Risings.

Getting to the site was pretty tricky. The castle remains hidden from view on the road and the parking lot. You first had to go through this generic-looking building, tread down these stairs, walk through the gift shop and the cafeteria before finally emerging out to this spectacular view.

Thankfully, the weather was awesome. No Nessie sighting, though.


Blarney Castle

Ugh, the news was giving me a headache. So here, go look at photos of Blarney Castle and read about it.

Built around the 1200’s, Blarney Castle was used more as a military fortress than a palace for living. It was passed around from family to family and today lies in partial ruins.

What attracts tourists the most to this site is the legendary Blarney Stone. According to the most popular legend, Cormac Laidir McCarthy, the builder of castle, was facing legal troubles and prayed to the goddess Clíodhna who then instructed him to kiss the first stone he comes across on the morning he goes to court. Apparently this gave him the gift of eloquence and he was able to win his court case. The rest is history.

The stone has since been moved to the top of the castle where lines of tourists would lie on their backs on the rain soaked bedding, facing the cold drops of rain and then pulled to the very edge of the top of the castle to kiss the stone in the hopes of being gifted with the same gift of eloquence.

Me being a short person that’s can’t even reach the highest part of my kitchen shelf and with a lots hair that always gets in the way to boot, this was quite terrifying. Did it work? Well, considering I still cannot complete a coherent sentence and my Filipino accent still comes out when I’m nervous, I sincerely doubt it. For all I know, the stone could’ve been on the other side of the wall and everyone’s been kissing the wrong stone all these times.

Fun Facts:

  • Did you know Winston Churchill kissed the stone once? He could’ve been kissing the wrong stone like the rest of us.
  • Nearby the castle is a poison garden. One of these poisonous plants is cannabis. Why those sneaky Irish…


Caseal Cashel – Exterior (and crows)

My last post ended with me talking about how green it was in Ireland. Now let me continue…

It was so effing green.

Anyway, back to Caseal Cashel. The origin behind one of its names, St. Patrick’s Rock, came from local legend that claims that the rock on which the castle stands on “formed when St. Patrick banished Satan from a cave in a mountain located within 30 km of Cashel. The furious demon bit off a piece of the mountain but he had to spit it out because of his broken tooth – this was how a mysterious limestone hill appeared in the flatland of Tipperary.”

So there you have. Fun little background story. Now look at how green it is over there. Look at it!


Caseal Cashel – Interior

Translated to Rock Of Castle, and also known as the Cashel of the Kings or St. Patrick’s Rock, the place looks every bit like one of those typical castle on a hill you’d see in fairy tales or on the front cover of trashy romance novels from far away. But up close, it looks more like the ruins of an old cathedral from the medieval period.

This was the seat of the kings of Munster. It was a very quiet and haunting place, one of my favorite spots in Ireland. Outside was a graveyard and miles and miles of green. These will be my last photographs in black and white (I hope). For my next few pics, I wanna show how green it really was over there. It’s a different shade of green, one that I’ve never realized even existed. It’s not the same green I’ve seen in the east coast or the green I’ve seen in Philippines. It’s definitely more vibrant. Or maybe it’s just me. I don’t know. Meh.