Nature photography, political rants, and Martyman laughs from the ten-time award-winning author of "Cool Creatures, Hot Planet," "Endangered Edens," and "Time Is Irreverent."

Inside a Spanish castle

Marty’s photo of the day #2558: I will let a short excerpt from my first book, Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents, explain this shot from Spain:

If medieval real estate agents existed, they would have listed the Castillo de Monfragüe as a “starter castle.” Built in the fifteenth century, it was much smaller than the previous two castles we had seen. The unusually shaped building had six flat sides and a flat top. Each side was about twenty-five feet wide, and its total height was about the same as a three-story house. Although the castle didn’t have elaborate architecture or towers, it did have one exciting feature: an open door.

We stepped inside and were surprised to see only a single large square room with stone walls and a high ceiling. Medieval real estate agents would have had to avoid using the word cozy when describing the castle’s interior. An enclosed staircase led up from an opening in the far wall. We climbed the stairs to a midlevel embrasure window, which was big enough to support a cannon but not tall enough to for us to stand in. We hunched over and gazed down on the Rio Tajo (the major river in the area) valley, then continued to the top of the stairs and popped out on the roof. Surrounding us were walls six feet thick and seven feet high. Defensive crenellations (openings) allowed for weapon launching in all directions, and steps made it easy for us to get on top of the walls. In its heyday the castle was a strategic lookout. With views extending for miles, it would have been difficult for an enemy to cross the river without being spotted.

A medieval real estate agent might have advertised the castle like this:

Starter Castle. One large room for easy cleaning. Six-foot-thick walls provide all the protection you and your family will ever need. Roof doubles as a patio—great for entertaining friends, boiling caldrons of oil, or tossing heretics. Outstanding views allow for easy surveillance of neighbors. Built to last—six hundred years from now, it will still look as good as new.

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