For all those who fell in love with Tristan and Isolde or with King Arthur, for those who fantasize wandering through time, up to the Dark Middle Ages, there is no better place to be in than the Castle of Warwick in England. I invite all dreaming ladies and brave knights of the 21st century to join me in a tremendous adventure in Warwick, known as the ultimate Britain’s Castle.
Seated on the river Avon, and easy to reach from Birmingham International Airport, Warwick Castle is perfectly preserved and to visit it you need a full day. Just make sure that you check the weather forecast as sunny time is mandatory for a complete experience (many activities take place outside). I get to Warwick train-station and wonder a little bit through the city, visit the main church and watch groups of people performing traditional dances in the street. It is an amazing show that has the role to immerse you in the medieval world even before entering the Castle’s gates.
Continuing my way, I spot quickly the route to the Castle and in a quarter of an hour by foot I am already in. Built in the 11th century, the castle has a tumultuous history, its architecture has suffered several changes and it served many years as a prison and even King Edward IV was held prisoner there. Since 1978 it has been open to the public as a touristic site.
The Castle proposes several attractions and, if you are cold blooded, the first one is the horrifying Dungeon, leading you back in 1345, the times of the plague. You can almost experiment here a wide range of medieval torture methods, punishments, and a mirror maze of lost souls and see bloodshed, dead bodies, playing “trick or treat, fear or defeat” games once you descend. The dungeon is particularly interesting as the castle has been known as the prison of the kings. Brrrr, this is scary!
Getting out, there are other milder attractions for everybody. Girls are definitely queuing at the princess Tower to see how to become a real princess. Ladies and gentlemen of all ages are invited to the grand interior: the Hall, the Chapel and the state rooms where noblemen have been entertained for 500 years, and then to the 1898 lavish party, hiding secrets and scandals of high society. Nevertheless, an interesting experience is the Kingmaker, where Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick will show you the preparations for Battle of Barnet in 1471, including weapons’ craft. Apart from the main building, I visit the Museum of the Mill and Engine Houses showing how hydroelectricity has been used to light the castle. As for the out-side landscape and views, I loved the Mound, comprising the oldest parts of the castle, where falcons are tamed, the Victorian style Conservatory and the Peacock and the Rose Gardens.
What I enjoy most is the tournament on the island. Just in front of the castle, brave knights prepare a tournament that makes me keep my breath. Two honorable lords, very handsome men, by the way, fight with swords and spares while riding wild stallions for the hands of the graceful ladies. But just when the competition is getting tighter, all of a sudden, barbarians attack. A true war is taking place just in front of me! Will the knights of Warwick succeed? I will let you discover by yourselves. At sunset, the show ends when the mighty trebuchet (the world’s largest siege machine) is being launched throwing a bowl of fire! Amazing! This year the castle offers a brand new experience where magic and reality come together: the Tower of Merlin. I am looking forward to seeing it!
At the end of my visit, after countless battles, climbing on the walls, descending in the dungeon and participating in so many parties, I just feel hungry. And there is no better place to have an excellent dinner in than one of the many cafes and restaurants that you can find there. Enjoy!
A full gallery of useful information, pictures and the possibility to book tickets is available on the Warwick Castle website: www.warwick-castle.com