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Hwaseong - “Brilliant Fortress”, Suwon, South Korea

April 24th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Hwaseong ("Brilliant Fortress") is located in Suwon, South Korea, 30 kilometers from Seoul. It was built from 1794 to 1796. King Jeongjo constructed the fortress complex to honor and house the remains of his father Prince Sado who was forced to commit suicide by being shut in a rice chest by King Yeongjo.

The fortress was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 1997.

The architecture of the fortress combines traditional Eastern and Western styles, which makes it very distinctive from other Korean buildings.

The fortress has four gates, "Hwaseomun" (west gate), "Janganmun" (north), "Paldalmun" (south) and Changnyongmun (east). The Janganmun and Paldalmun gates are the larger of the four main gates and resemble Seoul's Namdaemun in roof design, and stone and wood work. Paldalmun was burned down during the Korean War and was reconstructed in 1975. Janganmun survived destruction and is from the original construction of the fortress. Both the north and south gates are topped with two-story wooden pavilions while Hwaseomun and Changyongmun, the west gate and east gate respectively, had one story pavilions. The north gate's grand design reflected King Jeongjo's desire to move the capital to Suwon. The four main gates are encircled by miniature fortresses which housed guards to protect the gates.


Akershus Fortress, Oslo, Norway

April 24th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Akershus Fortress (Akershus Festning) is the old castle built to protect Oslo, the capital of Norway.

The first work on the fortress started around the late 1290s, by King Håkon V, replacing Tønsberg as one of the two most important Norwegian castles of the period (the other being Båhus). It was constructed in response to the Norwegian nobleman, Earl Alv Erlingsson of Sarpsborg’s earlier attack on Oslo.

The fortress has successfully survived many sieges, primarily by Swedish forces. In the early 17th c., the fortress was modernized and remodeled under the reign of the active King Christian IV, and got the appearance of a renaissance castle.

The fortress was first used in battle in 1308, when it was besieged by the Swedish duke Erik of Södermanland, who later in the same year won the Swedish throne. The immediate proximity of the sea was a key feature, for naval power was a vital military force as the majority of Norwegian commerce in that period was by sea. The fortress was strategically important for the capital, and therefore, Norway as well. Whoever ruled Akershus fortress ruled Norway.


An archaeological site located in Qal’at al-Bahrain, Bahrain

April 18th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Qal'at al-Bahrain is an archaeological site located in Bahrain. It is composed of an artificial mound created by human inhabitants from 2300 BC up to the 1700's. Among other things, it was once the capital of the Dilmun civilization, and served more recently as a Portuguese fort. For these reasons, it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. Qal'at al–Bahrain( also known as the Bahrain Fort or Portuguese fort) is an archaeological site and historic fort.

It is a typical tell – an artificial mound created by many successive layers of human occupation. The strata of the 300x600-metre tell testify to continuous human presence from about 2300 B.C. to the 16th century A.D. About 25% of the site has been excavated revealing structures of different types: residential, public, commercial, religious and military. They testify to the importance of the site, a trading port, over the centuries. On the top of the 12m high mound, there is the impressive Portuguese fort, which gave the whole site its name, qal'a, meaning fort. The site was the capital of the Dilmun, one of the most important ancient civilizations of the region. It contains the richest remains inventoried of this civilization, which was hitherto only known from written Sumerian references.


The Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, Cuba

April 14th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca (also known by the less formal title of Castillo del Morro or as San Pedro de la Roca Castle) is a fortress on the coast of the Cuban city of Santiago de Cuba. About 6 miles (10 km) southwest of the city centre, it overlooks the bay.

Initial design

It was designed in 1637 by Giovan Battista Antonelli (also known as Juan Battista Antonelli), a member of a Milanese family of military engineers, on behalf of the governor of the city, Pedro de la Roca y Borja, as a defense against raiding pirates, although an earlier, smaller, fortification had been built between 1590 and 1610. Antonelli design was adapted to the situation of the fortress on the steep sides of the promontory (the morro from which the fortress gets its name) reaching into the bay. It was constructed on a series of terraces; there were four main levels and three large bulwarks to house the artillery. Supplies would be delivered by sea and then stored in the large warehouse, which was cut directly into the rock, or transported up to the top level which housed the citadel. Construction of the citadel took 42 years, starting in 1638 and finally being completed in 1700, though work on the fortification was spasmodic. Antonelli was recalled to Cuba in 1645, shortly after the massive project was started, and other examples of his work can be seen there in the twin forts of Fuerte del Cojimar and Fuerte de Santa Doratea de Luna de Chorrera. Some of the structures from the earlier fortification were later incorporated into the main structure.


James Island, Gambia

April 6th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

James Island is an island in the Gambia River, 30km from the river mouth and near Juffureh in the country of The Gambia. It contains a fort known as Fort James. It is less than two miles from Albreda on the river's northern bank that served a similar purpose for the French.

The first European settlers on the island were Baltic Germans from Duchy of Courland, who also had other colonial possessions in the area. They called it St. Andrews Island, though the Island had previously been granted to two separate companies by the British Crown in 1588 and 1618. In 1651 they built a fort named Jacob Fort after Jacob Kettler, the Duke of Courland and used it as a trade base. It was then briefly held by the Dutch from 1659 until it was captured by the British in 1661 and formally ceded to them in 1664.


The Alcazar of Toledo

April 2nd, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The Alcázar of Toledo is a stone fortification, located in the highest part of Toledo, Spain. Once used as a Roman palace in the 3rd century, it was restored under Alfonso VI and Alfonso X and renovated in 1535.

During the Spanish Civil War, nationalist Colonel José Moscardó Ituarte held the building against overwhelming Spanish Republican forces. The incident became a central piece of Spanish Nationalist lore especially the story of Moscardó's son Luis. The Republicans kidnapped Moscardó's son, Luis, and demanded that the Alcázar be surrendered or they would kill his son. Luis told his father "Surrender or they will shoot me," his father replied "then commend your soul to God, shout 'Viva Cristo Rey' and die like a hero." Moscardó refused to surrender, and the Republicans executed his son.


Sarbinowo Fortress, Poland

March 26th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Fortifications in Sarbinowo, part of Kostrzyn Fortress built in 1883-1887.

Send by: slawek i tomek

Fort Boyard, France

March 22nd, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Fort Boyard is a fort located between the Île-d'Aix and the Île d'Oléron in the Pertuis d'Antioche straits, on the west coast of France.

The construction of the fort had already been considered since the completion of the arsenal in 1666, but Vauban famously advised Louis XIV against it saying "Sir, it would be easier to catch the moon with the teeth than take on such an endeavour in such a location".

The fort was actually started under Napoleon in 1801, in order to protect the coast (and especially the arsenal of Rochefort) from possible incursions by foreign (and especially British) navies. At that time, cannons only had a limited range, and the distance between the two islands of Aix and Oleron was too large to block the passage.

Following difficulties in establishing a firm base (stone blocks had to be installed on the sandy sea bed during low tide but they still sank under their own weight) the project was adjourned in 1809. Construction started again in 1837 under Louis-Philippe, following renewed tensions with Great Britain, and was completed in 1857.