Collection Inspiration: Castles

Posted on 11/16/2021

Nations have honored these magnificent historic heritages on their banknotes.

Paper money collectors often focus on a particular nation or even a particular series. This column is designed to offer ideas for building a collection of notes from around the world based on a common element. Impressive, inspirational and a source of pride for many nations, this month we look at castles that have been featured on notes.

Rozafa Castle

Near one of Albania’s oldest cities, Shkodër, are the ruins of Rozafa Castle, which is displayed on the back of the country’s 1964 Lek. Surrounded by the rivers Buna and Drin, the castle was originally an Illyrian strategic stronghold. Now in ruins, the grounds are an archeological park as well as a tourist attraction. Many legends surround the castle, but the most famous one is immortalized in a Serbian poem called The Building of Skadar.

Albania, Banka e Shtetit Shqiptar 1964 1 Lek graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Unc EPQ
Click images to enlarge.

Castle of Guimarães

The Castle of Guimarães, also known as the Cradle of Portugal, is located in the north of the country and was built in the 10th century by a renowned woman named Countess Mumadona Dias. The castle served as a fortress to defend the surrounding monasteries from invading Moors and Norsemen. Today, it is a protected national monument and proudly displayed on the back of a Portugal 1929-40 20 Escudos note.

Portugal, Banco de Portugal 1929-40 20 Escudos graded PMG 40 Extremely Fine
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Windsor Castle

Built in the 11th century by England’s first king, William the Conqueror, the majestic Windsor Castle is the longest-occupied palace in Europe and is a weekend home to the present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. The grounds cover 13 acres and have a mixture of design styles due to renovations by different monarchs over hundreds of years. The edifice is beautifully displayed on the back of the Canada 1935 $25 commemorative note, a country with close ties to England to this day.

Canada, Bank of Canada 1935 $25 English Commemorative Issue graded PMG 64 Choice Uncirculated EPQ
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Peel Castle

Originally built by Viking King Magnus Olafsson, more widely known as Magnus Barefoot (1073-1103), Peel Castle stands on Saint Patrick’s Isle, which is part of the self-governing British territory of Isle of Man, located between England and Ireland. Fortifications were added as late as the 1800s, but today only the outer walls remain fully intact. Peel Castle is featured on the back of the Isle of Man ND (1972) 10 pounds.

Isle of Man, Isle of Man Government ND (1972) £10 graded PMG 64 Choice Uncirculated EPQ
Click images to enlarge.

Eltz Castle

Eltz Castle is one of the last castles that reside on the banks of Germany’s Rhine River and is owned by the Eltz family, which founded it 33 generations ago. In 1331, the castle was under siege for two years when the Eltz family quarreled with an archbishop. After years of renovations, the castle is currently open to tourists, while a section is a private residence to a branch of the family. This imposing castle is impressively displayed on the back of the German 1977 500 Deutsche Mark.

Germany - Federal Republic 1977 500 Deutsche Mark graded PMG 68 Superb Gem Unc EPQ
Click images to enlarge.

Mount Orgueil

Mont Orgueil in Jersey (off the coast of France) was built in 1204 as a formidable stronghold. During the late 1700s, the building became the headquarters of a British effort to destabilize France by, among other things, smuggling in forged banknotes to cause hyperinflation. Modern fortifications added by occupying forces during World War II remain there to this day. It is displayed on the back of this Jersey ND (1963) 1 Pound note.

Jersey, States of Jersey ND (1963) £1 graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click images to enlarge.

Castle Cornet

Not far from Jersey is Guernsey, home of Castle Cornet, which played a significant part in several wars in English history. During the English Civil War, the island was torn as the inhabitants of the castle supported the crown, while the rest of the island was on the side of Parliament. Eventually, the castle fell and was converted to a garrison and prison until the end of World War II. Today, the castle is a protected monument and a museum with guided tours.

Guernsey / British Administration ND (1969-75) £1 graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click images to enlarge.

Sidon Sea Castle

Sidon’s Sea Castle was built on the ruins of an ancient Phoenician city. The castle itself was constructed by crusaders in 1228. During the Ottoman era, an additional layer was built by the Mamluks, a military company under the Arab rulers that consisted of non-Arab slaves and freed slaves. Now in ruins, all that remains are two towers that are connected by a wall, which is featured on the front of a Lebanon 1958-64 1 Livre banknote.

Lebanon, Banque de Syrie et du Liban 1958-64 1 Livre graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click images to enlarge.

Diósgyőr Castle

Built in Hungary in the 12th century, Diósgyőr Castle was destroyed by a Mongol army in 1241-42, only to be rebuilt afterward. In 1953, the castle underwent thorough restoration, with archaeological expeditions beginning in the 1960s. Today, the castle is open to tourists with the largest wax museum in Central Europe. Twice a year, a medieval fair takes place with plays and tournaments.

Hungary, National Bank 2003 200 Forint graded PMG 68 Superb Gem Unc EPQ
Click images to enlarge.

Chapultepec Castle

On top of Chapultepec Hill in Mexico City, Chapultepec Castle served as a military academy, imperial residence, presidential residence, observatory and is now the National Museum of History. Adorned with neo-classical, neo-romanticism and neo-Gothic elements, Chapultepec Castle was used as the Capulet Mansion in the 1996 film William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.

Mexico, Banco de Mexico 1989 5,000 Pesos graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Unc EPQ
Click images to enlarge.

Cinderella Castle

The famous Cinderella’s castle in Tokyo Disneyland stands as one of the most recognized modern castles. Built in 1983, it is a copy of the one in Disney World in Florida. The design for both castles was inspired by several European castles and designed by American artist and Disney Imagineer Herbert Ryman. The castle can be seen in the 1950 film Cinderella as well as on this Tokyo Disneyland 500 Yen First Series Disney Dollar.

Tokyo Disneyland 500 Yen First Series Disney Dollar graded PMG 68 Superb Gem Unc EPQ
Click images to enlarge.

If collecting notes displaying cultural buildings inspires you, check out the Collection Inspiration column on churches and cultural world heritage sites. If you like to collect notes that feature famous people, check out the Collection Inspiration columns on Nobel Prize LaureatesComposersFamous Women and Women Writers.

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