Friend of IT Amy McKeever is currently living it up in Europe, and wants us to know that we’re all a bunch of dirty rascals:
I saw a lot of beautiful things when I lived in Switzerland as a child, but nothing captured my imagination like Europe’s castles. I recall roaming palace gardens on Isola Bella in northwestern Italy, daydreaming about traveling back to medieval times and befriending the princess who would just happen to be my age.
So it is to my great delight that I’m currently living in the country that claims to have more castles per square mile than any other country in the world: Belgium. One of this tiny country’s acclaimed castles, Beersel, lies six miles (ten kilometers) south of Brussels.
The 14th-century fortress was originally designed to help protect Brussels from attack. Although it was damaged several times through years of war, much of the castle remains intact. It also remains mostly untouched, despite an unfortunate bit of graffiti on a wall here and there. Most importantly, Beersel is open for exploration.
I crossed a wooden bridge over the moat and passed through the castle’s gigantic wooden door. The fortress was an empty playground. I was free to wander wherever I wanted. Open arches at the base of the three remaining towers led to stone corridors, which in turn led to cases of narrow, dimly lit stairs. I walked up the hallways and checked out the various rooms that opened off them, with their medieval bathrooms. Next, I climbed flights of stairs until there was no farther to go and found myself in a turret from which troops certainly spotted invaders from miles away on the hilly terrain. Now, centuries later, I could almost see them approaching. I gazed out on the courtyard and imagined guards marching across its cobblestones to take their posts.
In fact, everywhere I went throughout the fortress lent itself to the games of pretend that I played as a child. Free of docents pointing me in a particular direction or keeping me off of the castle walls, Beersel had a mark of authenticity I’ll never forget simply because it allowed me to lose myself in my imagination.
- Nat Geo Expeditions