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Fortresses: The Latest Architecture and News

AD Classics: Himeji Castle / Ikeda Terumasa

With its gleaming white walls and elegantly terraced roofs, it is easy to forget that Himeji Castle was built as a fortress . Standing on two hilltops in the city of Himeji, the old fortress, also known as Himeji-jo, is the greatest surviving example of Japanese castle architecture from the early years of the Shogunate, which governed the island nation from the late 1500s to the 19th Century. Although never tested in battle, the castle’s elaborate defensive measures represent the best strategic design the period produced. While these measures have since been rendered obsolete, the same cannot be said for the castle’s soaring, pristine aesthetic, which earned it the nickname Shirasagi-jo – “Castle of the White Heron.”

Courtesy of Flickr user Ben Kubota (licensed under CC BY 2.0) Courtesy of Flickr user alisdair (licensed under CC BY 2.0) A period image depicts the labor needed to construct Ikeda Terumasa’s grand new Himeji Castle. ImageCourtesy of Wikimedia user ブレイズマン (Public Domain) This map from the Himeji City Castle Laboratory Collection depicts the concentric lines of defense surrounding Himeji Castle. ImageCourtesy of Wikimedia user ブレイズマン (Public Domain) + 14

6 Castle Fortresses Across Europe, as Selected by Sketchfab

Today, thanks to our partnership with Sketchfab, we take you on a virtual tour of some of the most breathtaking historic fortresses across Europe. The design of castles and fortress complexes are particularly interesting because of their strategic siting and defense mechanisms. As strongholds of territorial claim, fortress complexes are meant to be self-sustaining in times of conflict and contain not only defense fortifications but a suite of supporting structures such as chapels, schools, and housing. This effectively turns fortress complexes into a village within a village. These richly detailed scans hosted on Sketchfab allow us to see in detail the urban planning strategies of different historic periods and places.

For a more immersive experience, all of these models can be viewed on a virtual reality headset such as Google Cardboard.