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Why we’re here for architects restoring 6 Asian castles

Experiencing history is akin to taking a trip back in time. Time travel if you will. There are a variety of ways to do so. One could open up a history book, watch a documentary, or visit a museum. Another way could be experiencing a collaboration of graphics designers and architects reconstruct ruined Asian castles.

Budget Direct has commissioned a team of graphic designers and architects to reconstruct six lost Asian castles. Spanning from Iran all the way to Japan, this restoration team used the existing ruins and then produced an accurate depiction of these Asian castles.

Kulture Hub was fortunate enough to team up with Budget Direct on this project to shed some light on the history and beauty of these lost Asian Castles. So tap in below for some of history’s finest Asian castle architecture.

Citadel of Ghazni, Ghazni, Afghanistan

Citadel of Ghazni
Citadel of Ghazni digital restoration (via Budget Direct)

This 13th-century medieval fortress is located in east-central Afghanistan.

The citadel surrounded the town of Ghazni to form a walled city. Its 147-foot walls and towers dominate the Ghazni skyline.

Over the centuries, the citadel experienced many battles, political instability, and natural deterioration. One major battle that nearly destroyed the citadel was the battle of Ghazni during the first Anglo-Afghan war in 1839.

Today, the citadel is at risk for a total collapse. In June 2019, one of the large towers completely collapsed due to heavy rains, the proximity of a major road, and a fierce battle with Taliban militants.

Yuanming Yuan (The Old Summer Palace), Beijing, China

Yuanming Yuan (The Old Summer Palace)
Yuanming Yuan is digitally restored in all its grandeur (via Budget Direct).

Originally called the Imperial Gardens, Yuanming Yuan was more than a castle. It was a 3.5 square kilometer complex that featured palaces and gardens.

The complex was founded in 1709 by then Emperor Kangxi and was gifted to his fourth son, Emperor Yongzheng. It was an opulent symbol of China.

The palace had the grandest splendor of its day. Marbled palaces, stately temples, pools, extensive gardens, fountains, swans, and also peacocks accentuated the grandeur of this palace. The palace was summed up as such:

“…the thousand and one dreams of the thousand and one nights’ built by ‘architects who are poets.'”

China Highlights

The palace complex was destroyed by British and French forces during the Second Opium War. The Boxer Rebellion and Cultural Revolution also contributed to transforming the palace of grandeur into a pit of ruin.

Raigad Fort, Raigad, Maharashtra, India

Asian castle Raigad Fort
Maratha Empire’s Raigad Fort digital restoration (via Budget Direct).

This hill fort is known as the strongest fortress in the Deccan Plateau.

Raigad Fort (King’s Fort) is located in Mahad, the Raigad district of Maharashtra, a region in western India. The fort is also situated 823 meters above sea level (a climb of 1737 steps), lying above the Sahyadri mountain range.

It was seized in 1656 by Shivaji Bhonsale I, an Indian ruler and a member of the Bhonsle Maratha clan.

Shivaji then commissioned chief architect and engineer Hiroji Indulkar to renovate and expand the fort to include a palace and other royal amenities. This seizure and renovation thus marked the beginning of the Maratha Empire that would remain in power through the early 19th century.

Then, in 1765, the British East India Company launched an armed campaign to capture and destroy Raigad Fort.

This campaign lasted until 1818 when the fort was bombarded by nearby British canons. A treaty was signed in which the Maratha Empire relinquished control of the fort to the British East India Company. The British looted and destroyed the fort.

Today, Raigad fort is a major tourist attraction. Visitors can forgo the 1737 steps to reach the fort by using an aerial tramway. Two of the three watchtowers survived the bombardment and are also available for tourists to enjoy.

Alamut Castle, Alamut Valley, Iran

alamut asian castle
Origin of Assassins. Alamut Castle digital restoration (via Budget Direct).

This mountain fortress is located south of the Caspian Sea in the Alamut region of northern Iran.

Alamut Castle was originally built in the ninth century by the Wahsūdān ibn Marzubān, the Justanid ruler of Daylam at the time.

The site was chosen for its tactical location sitting on an elevated rock formation. The word ‘Alamut’ roughly translates to “eagle’s nest” or also “Nest of Punishment” in Persian.

In 1090, Hassan-i Sabbah conquered the impenetrable fortress. His followers were known to carry out attacks against enemy factions and were also known as “Hashashin,” which is the origin of the word “Assassin.”

Fans of the Assassin’s Creed franchise will recognize this castle as the real-life version of Alamut Temple.

This fortress was home to institutions of higher knowledge. Specifically, Alamut housed an extensive library full of literature, astronomy, math, philosophy, and alchemy. The castle was destroyed by Mongolian invaders in the 13th century.

Hagi Castle, Hagi, Japan

Hagi Asian Castle
Digital restoration of Hagi Castle in Northern Japan (via Budget Direct).

Mori Terumoto constructed the Hagi Castle in 1604.

The defeat of the Mori clan at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 forced the Mori clan to shift their main castle to Hagi. The strategic location on the coast of the Sea of Japan and Mount Shizuki would serve as the backdrop for the Hagi Castle.

The Hagi Castle was then brought down in 1874 under the Castle Abolition Law. The legislation sought to limit the power of feudal lords and centralize the power into the hands of the ruling Meiji elite.

Today, the walls, moats, and foundation are what’s left of the castle. The ruins still lay in the pleasant Shizuki Park in the northwest section of Hagi.

Takeda Castle, Asago, Hyōgo, Japan

Takeda Castle
Takeda Castle floating in the sky (via Budget Direct).

Takeda-jo-seki (Takeda Castle Ruins) is located in Asago City, Hyogo prefecture, a region in western Japan.

Takeda Castle is known as the “castle floating in the sky.” In some circles, it is also referred to as the Machu Picchu of Japan.

The castle was originally built in the mid-15th century and conquered by the “Great Unifier” of Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. His unification of Japan occurred during one of the darkest centuries of Japan’s history, the Sengoku period.

During the Battle of Sekigahara, the castle’s forces battled the Tokugawa clan. Then, the clan’s leader, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and his forces managed to conquer the castle.

This victory initiated the Tokugawa shogunate rule over Japan for more than two and a half centuries. Takeda castle was abandoned and left without maintenance measures. It thus crumbled down to its stone foundations.

Today, Takeda-jo-seki sits 353 meters above sea level. The stone foundation was repaired in the late 20th century and is also even open for tourism. During some mornings, the seasonal fog fills the valley where the castle stands. This thus makes for a majestic scenery of a “castle in the sky.”

History is yesterday’s story and also the basis for tomorrow’s mystery.

By indulging in the past, one can also find the keys to the future. Both of those aspects then come together to create one’s own story.

The story behind each of these Asian castles is a tale of creation, destruction, and now, resurrection.

Creatives that use their talent for sharing historical information are thus invaluable. The team behind these six Asian Castle restorations are classified as such.