Author Kieron Connolly's new book "Abandoned Castles" explores forgotten fortresses across the globe, featuring stunning photos of decaying castles in Europe, the Middle East and beyond. These centuries-old structures give us a unique glimpse into antiquity, and serve as marvels of art, architecture, and human accomplishment.
Connolly told CNN:
"Societies are like a body: centuries go by and the body decays," he tells CNN Travel.
"The castle's like the skull or like the teeth, in fact they even look a bit like teeth, sticking out, out of the ground. They give us some clues, some entries into the past."
Here are some of the castles featured in this remarkable book. Enjoy!
Château d'Alleuze, Cantal, Auvergne, France
This French chateau was once owned by Bernard de Garlan, an English-sympathizer during the Hundred Years War. De Garlan, acting in the interests of England, sowed fear in the region and wreaked havoc on the locals. Nearby inhabitants took their sweet revenge, and burned the castle down in 1405. The chateau was rebuilt, taken by Huguenots in 1575, and then fell into ruin.
Kincasslagh Fort, County Donegal, Ireland
Built by the British during the Napoleonic Wars, Kincasslagh served as an anti-invasion fort on a remote Irish peninsula. Today, only 40 people live in the small seaside village near the fort.
Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe, Argyll and Bute, Scotland
The magnificent Kilchurn Castle sits on a tiny island in Loch Awe, Scotland. It was built by Colin Campbell, first Lord of Glenorchy, in the 15th century, and was damaged by a lightning strike in 1760.
Altenstein, Bavaria, Germany
Starting in the 13th century, this scenic spot was the home of the lords of Stein zu Altenstein. Unfortunately, the beautiful structure fell into decay after the family moved to a new palace in the 18th century.
Minard Castle, Dingle Bay, County Kerry, Ireland
Built in the 16th century, Minard Castle was destroyed by cannon fire and gunpowder in the English Civil War. The beautiful ruin is a reminder of that bloody time in history, as all the survivors of the attack were mercilessly killed.
Mortella Tower, Corsica, France
This famous ruin was originally constructed to defend the Mediterranean island of Corsica against pirates from North Africa. In 1796, British forces acquired the designs for the fortress and then promptly destroyed it. The stolen designs became the popular model for Martello towers built all across the British Empire in the 19th century. This one is Kieron Connolly's favorite. "I like the story because it goes through different periods in history," he told CNN.
Fort San Lorenzo, Colón, Panama
Now a World Heritage Site, this abandoned fort was built to defend Spanish ships containing Peruvian gold from pirates. The shipping route became obsolete by the 18th century, and the fort has been in a state of decay ever since.
Carew Castle, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Built in 1270, Carew Castle sits in the flat lands surrounding the Carew river. The castle changed owners three times during the English Civil War, and was completely deserted by the 17th century.
Krzyztopor Castle, Swietokrzyskie Province, Poland
This castle was built for Polish nobleman and governor Krzysztof Ossoliński in 1644. The structure reflected Krzysztof's belief in black magic and astrology, the principles of which were incorporated into the design of this quite eccentric castle.
Olsztyn, Silesia, Poland
Olsztyn Castle was built into the limestone crags of Poland's Jura hills by King Casimir the Great. It was invaded many times over the years, and fell into disrepair after it was captured by the Swedish in 1655.
Crac des Chevaliers, Homs Governorate, Syria
This magnificent structure is one of the most well-preserved medieval castles in the world! Built by the Knights Hospitaller, a medieval Catholic order, Crac des Chevaliers is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been continuously refortified over the centuries.
Rocca Calascio, Abruzzo, Italy
This 10th Century castle is the highest stronghold in the Apennines, though it never actually saw battle before it was destroyed by an earthquake in the 15th century.
Fort de Malamot, Savoy, France
The awe-inspiring Fort de Malamot is an 1889 military fortress that stands within the Cottian Alps of southwestern France (at an altitude of 9,350 feet!) The mountain road to the fort is notoriously difficult and dangerous to maneuver during most of the year.
Spis Castle, Kosice, Slovakia
One of Europe's largest castle sites, this towering structure is an impressive Gothic-Romanesque hybrid that remains one of Slovakia's most popular attractions. The castle fell into ruin after it was burnt down in the 1700s.
Dunluce castle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
One of Ireland's most scenic antiquities, Dunluce Castle endured a turbulent history before it finally fell into ruin in 1690, after the Battle of the Boyne.
Ballycarbery Castle, County Kerry, Ireland
This 16th century fort was damaged by Oliver Cromwell's troops in 1652. Now the haunting ruin is slowly being claimed by growing ivy and grass.
Dunnottar Castle, near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Dunnottar is widely considered one of Scotland's most breathtaking castles. With sweeping vistas of the North Sea, Dunnottar once hosted high-powered visitors such as William Wallace and Mary Queen of Scots.
Golconda, near Hyderabad, India
Golconda is the former capital of the Qutb Shai dynasty. It fell into disrepair in 1687, and is now a popular site to visit and explore.
Loarre Castle, Huesca, Aragon, Spain
Fun fact! This 11th century, Romanesque relic was used as scenery in the Ridley Scott movie "Kingdom of Heaven." It is remarkably well preserved.
Chateau de Saint-Ulrich, Haut-Rhin, France
The haunting ruins of Chateau de Saint-Ulrich overlook the French town of Ribeauvillé, and once housed the lords of Ribeaupierre. This scenic site was abandoned during the Thirty Years' War in the 16th century.
Bannerman Castle, Pollepel Island, Hudson River, New York State, USA
Surprisingly, Bannerman Castle was a military warehouse constructed by Francis Bannerman to resemble a castle. Located on Pollepel Island in New York's Hudson River, the warehouse fell to ruin after legislation changed laws regarding military weapons.
Chateau Gaillard, Normandy, France
This is the stunning ruin of the 12th century Chateau Gaillard, which sits on the River Seine in Normandy. The colossal structure was thought to be impossible to invade until it was captured by the French in 1204. The chateau fell into disrepair by the 16th century.