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Bet you didn't think you'd see these in Africa


Bet you didn't think you'd see these in Africa

story by: Tom Ricketts

Castles of Africa!

When someone says the word ‘castle’, most people straight away think of Europe and her grand castles complete with watch towers, drawbridges and moats. Dunedinites might first think Larnach, but for most of us it'll be Windsor, Neuschwanstein, Tower of London, Edinburgh and maybe even the odd few in Japan or China. Few of us would think Africa. Pyramids yes, but castles? Well, there are some castles in Africa, and they’re pretty impressive!

Here’s a few to check out if you’re in the neighbourhood.

1. Citadel of Quaitbay, Egypt
This impressive castle was built on the very spot where the Lighthouse of Alexandria once stood, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. After it was destroyed by series of earthquakes, the citadel was built to protect the harbour from the invading Ottomans in 1477AD. It has been beautifully restored and is a must visit when in Alexandria.

2. Fasil Ghebbi, Ethiopia
Gondar, a city in northern Ethiopia is about the size of Christchurch and hides several royal castles which have earned it the title ‘Camelot of Africa’. The most impressive of these castles is Fasil Ghebbi, which could perhaps be called the most European looking castle in Africa too. It was built somewhere between the 17th and 18th centuries by the emperor after which it gets its name, Fasilides. Today the grounds are a public park and the castles have UNESCO World Heritage status.

3. Ksar Ouled Soltane, Tunisia
This building is officially a ‘fortified granary’ so perhaps not a castle, but it looks pretty awesome so it makes the list. It was built by Berbers in the 15th century to store their food. Star Wars nerds will instantly recognise it as Anakin’s home, featuring in four of the six movies!

4. Ait Benhaddou, Morocco
Sitting on a remote former caravan route across the Altas Mountains is the fortified city of Ait Benhaddou. The amazing city is one of the best examples of earthen clay architecture around, and used to house and protect hundreds of citizens, although only four families live there now. So impressive is this castle that it has featured in many box office movies including Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, Alexander, Prince of Persia, Kingdom of Heaven and even Game of Thrones.

5. Cape Coast Castle, Ghana
This castle in to the west of Ghana’s capital city of Accra is one of the notorious ‘slave castles’. Originally built in 1653 as a trading post, it was later heavily modified to include huge dungeons capable of holding up to 1,000 slaves waiting to be sold and exported to North America. Today it’s open as a memorial and museum.

6. Great Mosque of Djenne, Mali
Another one that’s not technically a castle, but still looks like it, is the Great Mosque of Djenne. The impressive structure was originally built around the 13th century but was little more than a pile of rocks when the French colonised the country. They rebuilt the structure in 1907 and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.


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