Earlier this year I had a chance to visit a sight that I have not visited before and that I have wanted to see for some time. I love working in Europe and exposing new groups of travelers to its wonders, but there are few sights remaining in Europe which fire my inquisitive passion. There is certainly MUCH I have yet to experience, but little that is not a relative repeat of things I have seen many times. So when I had the chance to take my group to Guedelon this summer, I was excited.
Guedelon is an authentic medieval castle being constructed in western Burgundy. Not only is it being built according to 13th century plans, but using only the technology and craftsmanship then available. What an amazing and ambitious undertaking. And for visitors, what an opportunity to encounter living history. I love it. It is the ultimate open-air museum. Everyone, including our excellent guide Sarah, wears period clothing. Draft horses replace tractors and trucks and human hamster wheels replace cranes.
Watching the blacksmith hammer out tools by hand, the rope maker twining fibers into strands, stone masons shaping blocks, carpenters sawing planks by hand, or artisans making roof tiles is really cool. If you’re lucky enough to have a guide as excellent as Sarah the site comes alive. Learning to do the various tasks in the traditional, Medieval way required painstaking research. In some cases, records are not available and the builders are forced to come up with creative innovations to continue the work. Really impressive I think. The only deference to our century is the use of hardhats, safety goggles, and some protective clothing. Otherwise, you’d never know you're not in the 13th century. For an armchair historian like me, it was extraordinary. For anyone traveling in Burgundy with their own transportation, I'd say this is a no-miss sight.