Sunday, February 26, 2017

My Top 3 Castles of 3 Years of Castleholic + Giveaway!

How to properly celebrate the third anniversary of your blog (that actually accured three days ago)? I guess there are a bunch of very valid ways but I thought I would introduce you to three of my favourite castles of the past three years of Confessions of a Castleholic - and then we will have a giveaway all the way at the end, which includes not one but three books. (You see, the three is a recurring theme here...)

Having visited more than 80 castles, palaces, churches, exhibitions and anything related to royal and noble splendour in the past three years, it actually isn't that easy to come up with your favourites it turns out. Why? Beauty comes in so many different ways, lays in the eyes of the beholder and even fading beauties can be the most interesting of places. In the end, I came up with three places that pretty much sum up what I love in a castles. And they would make a handsome threesome to own: A town house, a magnificent palace and a fairytale getaway high up in the mountains.
The town house I wouldn't mind owning? Hertford House in the heart of London. The home of the Wallace Collection was never really on my radar - until a friend pointed it out and, gosh, did I fall for it! It's like a little eden for any splendour loving heart in the not-splendour-poor British capital. See and read more about it here.
Where I would host my magnificent balls and garden parties? The New Palace of Schleissheim near Munich. Prior to visiting, I had heard the name but I didn't really have an idea what the Schloss looked like - and I was blown away. With a staircase fit for any girl's Cinderella dream, the most gorgeous gallery, a magnificent ballroom, amazing ceilings and - oh, did I tell you about the gallery? Definetely my favourite room, check it out here.
Last but certainly not least? The Palácio Nacional da Pena near Lisbon - because don't we all just need a fairytale hideaway that looks like you are entering another world? What I loved most about it are its architectural features mixing European styles and Middle Eastern influences. More glimpses of it in its very own post.

And now onto our Giveaway! I will be giving away three Castleholic packages including books related to some of the places I visited during the past three years. It's nothing super fancy or anything, but little presents for three lucky followers. All books are in English. The giveaway starts today and ends next Sunday, March 5. Happy 3rd Blogiversary and good luck to all of you!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Three Years Ago Today...

...Confessions of a Castleholic was born. Schloss Wernigerode was the first castle adventure I ever covered on this blog. More than 80 castles, palaces, churches, exhibitions, museums and more have followed since. And then there are a few period dramas, talks to fellow Castleholics , castle memories from my pre-blogging years and whatever floats my mind that have kept us busy in the low-seasons. 

I would have loved to bring you a very special post to mark this very special anniversary. But alas, both my private and professional lives have been extremely busy as of late and they will remain so for at least another few weeks if not months. So please be patient with me, we will have a special celebration this weekend but I haven't been able to finish it yet. (Also please excuse if formatting and all is off on this post as I'm typing this away on my phone while laying in a hotel bed. #toughlife)

So stay tuned until the weekend and in the meantime I would like to thank each and every single one of you readers out there. May you be a Castleholic regular or someone who just stumbles across this by chance - THANK YOU! It's such a pleasure to share my castle adventures with you. And thank you for all your wonderful messages of the past three years. It's always such fun to hear when my castle travels can inspire your's or recall a castle story from long past.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

CastleDrama: Juana Inés

One of the great things about Netflix? It gives you the opportunity to watch foreign series you otherwise wouldn't - and thus also gives you the chance to learn about amazing women you hadn't heard of. Case in point: Juana Inés de la Cruz, a self-taught scholar, philosopher and poet and Hieronymite nun living in 17th century Mexico, at the time known as New Spain. Born out of wedlock, she learned to read thanks to her maternal grandfather and his love for books. During her teenage years, her intellect quickly gained renown in society and Juana Inés Ramirez de Asbaje became a lady-in-waiting in the court of the Spanish viceroy. 

The later left the court in favour of life as a nun, the only chance for a woman of her birth to secure the time and resources for scholarship. Her life as a nun, however, didn't look like you might expect it to. The rules of the Hieronymite order gave her the chance to read and write as much as she liked and so her library, which contained more than 4,000 books and was considered the largest in all of Mexico, became the intellectual hub of Mexico City. The viceroy of New Spain at the time and his wife became Juana Inés' patrons and the relationship between the nun and the vicereine leaves room for much speculation with Juana Inés once writing her, "That you're a woman far away is no hindrance to my love: for the soul, as you well know, distance and sex don't count."

A feminist before the word even existed, it, however, wasn't her love letters to the vicereine that brought about her downfall but La Respuesta. In a private letter published without her permission, Juana Inés offered another view on theological questions, something forbidden for women at the time. In response to her critics, she then penned Respuesta a Sor Filotea de la Cruz or Reply to Sister Philothea. In her reply, she turned around the logic used by the Catholic church to justify her oppression and subverted it into a defense for women's intellectual rights and education. Though the tone is superficially humble, Juana Inés insisted that women have a natural right to the mind. Threatened by the Inquisition, Juana Inés de la Cruz was silenced for the final three years of her life. At age 46, she died after taking care of her sisters in an outbreak of plague.

The mini-series Spanish-language "Juana Inés", produced by Canal Once TV and currently available on Netflix with English subtitles, is a dramatisation of this fascinating woman's life. Sadly, history has a way of letting brilliant women disappear as unknown. Thanks to the aforementioned viceroy and vicereine, who had her works printed and published in Spain, much of Juana Inés' words and thoughts remain. The mini-series is a wonderful introduction to her story Though I have some doubts about the historical authenticities at some points, it does include marvellous costumes, authentic settings and two wonderful actresses portraying Juana Inés throughout her life and the many obstacles she had to overcome - or as she says at one point in the series, "My only sin has been to be a woman in a world of men."