Through the Centuries

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by Malaika Allen

Throughout this trip we have seen some pretty interesting things. One of the most interesting has been the architecture and the amount of detail shown in every city we have been to. Since these cities are a lot older than those in the United States, they have a wider variety of ages being shown in the displays of these buildings. Instead of going out with the old and in with the new, they have kept these buildings and made sure they were kept up.

In a way these buildings help to date the age of these cities. For example, in London there were buildings from every time period. Every corner was filled with a ton of history, which made it an interesting thing to experience. Since there were so many things to see in a short amount of time, we did the bus tour. Although we probably missed some things it made it a lot easier to appreciate the architecture and the details that went into creating this works of art. Since we were a lot closer than just being on the ground (it also helped that we happened to get a nice and sunny day … yay!).

Since London is so old it was easier to see the difference in time periods for some of these buildings. There were changes in colors, structures, and even design. Some of these were also present in the cities that we visited following them.

Scotland’s buildings particular looked a bit different from what I had seen in other cities. First of all, all of their older buildings were in a central part of the city, which was completely different from London (since they were spread all throughout the city). Their “historical” buildings were all very tall, pointy, and were all the same colors. They were tan but had a lot of black in them, which made them feel a lot older than they were. At the same time it also made them seem as though they had been through a lot of things, like that might have damaged them, but that was just the go to color scheme at the time. For example, St Giles’ Cathedral only dates back to the late 1800s, but it looks as though it could be a lot older than it actually is.

I also have found it very interesting that everywhere we go has a castle. By the end of this trip we will have visited: the Tower of London (1078), Cardiff Castle (55 AD), Dublin Castle (1204), Trim Castle (1174), Dunluce Castle (1500), and Edinburgh Castle (850 BC). That’s a lot of castles, but over the years they have done more than just become tourist attractions. For example, Cardiff Castle was also used in World War II as barracks for soldiers, which is interesting when you take into consideration of how old this castle actually is. It is amazing that a lot of these structures have stood as long as they have.

When you look deeper into how they castles were built, you can see that times were completely different. Everything was built a certain way and it was all about battle strategies. When walking up and down the very tight spiral staircases, I could only image being a knight in armor running up and down these tiny and uneven stairs, but there is a reason for that too. Since intruders would have to comes up the spiral staircase, it gave the knights of the castle a home court advantage. Most people were right handed at that time and therefore had a better chance of swinging at an enemy coming up the stairs. The enemy headed up would end up hitting the walls trying to swing a sword. That definitely took a lot of patience and precision, because I almost fell going down those stairs in slow motion (they were definitely professionals).

Another battle strategy I found fairly interesting was some of the “windows” located around the perimeter and in some of the inner buildings. They weren’t actually windows, but instead they were small slits in the wall. These slits were large inside the wall, but got gradually smaller as they made it to the outer side of the wall. The reason for this odd choice of “window” shaping’s was so that they could shoot at their enemies without giving them a huge target to hit. So, it allowed soldiers and knights to attack their enemies and still have an entire wall to hide behind. They really put a lot of thought into every little design that went into these walls, corridors, and staircases.

Back home in the good ole United States, you don’t see things like this. A lot of the reason is that it the country has not been colonized nearly as long as the United Kingdom, so we would not have building dating back to the tenth century. There are areas that have been considered historical and therefore people are not allowed to change the exterior of these buildings and houses. These historical homes have absolutely nothing on these castles, buildings, and churches found all throughout the United Kingdom. It is interesting to see an area where their history goes back so far. At the same time they tell the stories about all the not so flattering times, such as the public executions and lapses and in judgement. Instead of acting as if it did not happen, they accept, embrace, and do their best to work for a better way of life. I saw this in Dublin when we visited, Kilmainham Gaol (jail). They took the problems they had and grew from it. The United States could take a page out of that section of their book, because denial makes everything much worse than it is. Especially, when people are being deported from stolen lands. It is just interesting to see how far these other countries have come by simply admitting that they made a mistake and working to get things as close to right as possible.

Overall, the architecture has been both interesting and informative throughout this trip, especially when it comes to comparing it to that in the United States.

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