New Zealand is a relatively young country on the world stage. It was originally settled by Polynesians in 1280 AD. By this time the islands had amassed a diverse range of large game, largely due to a combination of time and isolation. The Moa (our second most popular species of bird) grew up to 3.5m tall and freely roamed the country until around 1500AD. It was around this time that it had been hunted to extinction. Can you imagine living alongside these prehistoric birds in a land such as this?
Move around the world to Europe at this time and we see a civilisation. Leonardo Da Vinci was beginning work on the Mona Lisa and Michelangelo, the statue David. Copernicus writes Commentariolus in which he first described that the sun was the center of the solar system. Christopher Columbus navigates the Atlantic, four times! In an attempting to find a route to India. All the while we were hunting the last of the Moa. It is truly a land lost in time.
So for me, the idea of exploring places with a little history behind them is an exciting prospect. To see the weathered stone flooring, smoothed by an ocean of feet rolling through over the ages, is something very new to me. Over the past week I have explored two castles located within easy reach of Basel in order to capture some of these historic vistas. Some in the same place that people stood and looked at, close to 1000 years ago.
Chateau de Landskron
Chateau de Landskron was built before 1297, and is located here, in the southern part of Alsace, France. Only a stones throw from Switzerland. After 1665 it was converted to a state prison for political prisoners and the mentally ill. The castle was destroyed in 1813 by the Austrian and the Bavarian armies when they were fighting against Napoleon Bonaparte. Since then it has remained a ruin. Clear evenings are a great time to visit this castle as you are treated to a fantastic starscape as a backdrop.
Schloss Birseck was originally built during the 12th century, and is located here, near Arlesheim in Switzerland. On the climb to the castle is the oldest neolithic burial site discovered in Switzerland. At this site in 5400 and 5000BC a 30 to 40 year old man was buried here. Travelling further up the old worn paths you come to the castle itself. The current castle was constructed from 1243 to 1244 and is said to be built atop an existing castle from the previous century (12th). The original construction on the site fell victim to a mysterious fire, proven by the uncovered burnt stonework around the site. Today there are still visible cracks in the masonry from the Basel earthquake of 1356.
...and a little behind the scenes. The headlamp halo!
Thanks for reading.