Turku castle is a national monument and one the most remarkable medieval castles in Finland. It's also one of the largest existing castles in Scandinavia. A history of Turku castle begins from the year 1280. The Swedish conquerors of Finland intended it originally as a military fortress.
During 15th and 16th centuries its defences were strengthened and living quarters were added. The castle served as a bastion and administrative centre in Finland. It was also a residence for kings of Sweden, when they visited in Finland. During the struggles for power of Sweden in 14th and 15th centuries Turku castle was several times under siege. Probably the longest one occured in 1364-65, when German lord Albrecht von Mecklenburg besieged it over eight months before Swedish troops surrounded.
The heyday of Turku Castle was in 1556-1563, when King John III of Sweden lived there. During this castle was enhanced to Renaissance fashioned living palace. John III married Polish princess Catherine Jagellon who also lived in Turku short period in 1562-1563. In 1614, when King Gustav II Adolf visited the castle, a tremendous fire destroyed the wooden structure of the main castle almost completely. After this the main castle was abandoned and used partly as a store, partly just stood empty. In the 19th century castle was used as a prison. The last accident beset the castle in the summer of 1941 soon after the Continuation War had begun when an incendiary bomb hit the main castle.
Today Turku castle is Finland's most visited museum, with attendance reaching 200,000 in some years. In addition, many of the larger rooms are used for municipal functions.
Olargues is a good example of a French medieval town and rated as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It was occupied by the Romans, the Vandals and the Visigoths. At the end of the 11th century the Jaur valley came under the authority of the Château of the Viscount of Minerve. The following centuries saw a succession of wars and epidemics, and it was not until the 18th century that Olargues became re-established. This was due to the prosperity of local agriculture and artisanal industry.
The Pont du Diable, 'Devil's Bridge', is said to date back to 1202 and is reputed to be the scene of transactions between the people of Olargues and the devil. The old village is clustered around the belltower, which was formerly the main tower of the castle (Romanesque construction). The old shops have marble frontages and overhanging upper storeys. A museum of popular traditions and art is to be found in the stairs of the Commanderie.