Athaal-Bĵorg is a large castle in Hjem
. It was built as a citadel, one of the first and largest of its kind. It now houses the largest division of the National Archives as well as several official government functions. It is considered a historical structure and the castle and it’s gardens are open to the public. It is one of the most famous tourist spots when visitors come to Hjem.
Originally, the castle was the center of the Titanian kingdom which would later become the capital city, Hjem. It was built in the 14th century by Ulfrik II, who founded the citadel. The fortress was commissioned in the same style as others of the time, however it was unique in its size. Upon completion, the castle could house (albeit somewhat uncomfortably) 15,000 people. It was meant to house the subject of the Kingdom in times of war or disaster, but the subsequent rulers following Ulfik II’s death, who were plagued by paranoia and madness, used the fortress as a means of protecting and accumulating wealth and waging unnecessary wars. Most of the public, however, did not ever see inside the walls of Athaal-Bĵorg until nearly a century later, under the rule of King Alef.
Until the unification of Titania, Athaal-Bĵorg housed the King, his family, and those who directly served him, as well as all military and physicians. The courtyard was also open to merchants, bakers, blacksmiths, and others who wished to sell their wares, and in 1670, a portion of the castle was converted into a hospital. When Titania was founded and the Council of Elders was formed, it became their official meeting headquarters as well as a place to house foreign diplomats.
The castle is located at the top of the a cliff along the Hjem coastline, just north of the center of the city. The cliff offered a naturally defended position when the castle was still a citadel, with sheer cliffs to the north and east, and a steep ascent from the south. The castle can be approached from the west, so it’s defences are situated accordingly, though only two of the original gates remain today.
There is little left now of the outer walls that marked the edges of the citadel, but the gatehouse and main castle are still intact. There are several military buildings that were erected in the 16th century which line the north-west part of the esplanade. These are now used mainly as housing for the guards and other personnel who must remain on-site.
Though many of the castle walls no longer remain intact, large elaborate gardens have been designed in their wake, often with the stone remains incorporated into the design. These gardens are open to the public and draw large crowds of tourists.
Athaal-Bĵorg was built from the stone hewn both from the cliffside and from site where the foundations were dug. The interior of the castle is an amalgamation of the many centuries that the structure has been used and added to.
Athaal-Bĵorg is technically still owned by the descendants of Ulfrik II, however at present there are no known living relatives of Ulfrik’s lineage. For all practical intents and purposes, the castle is owned by the state and is therefore run by the Elsa Thorgaard, who is the head of the Department of Culture & Internal Affairs.
The castle is currently used to house the National Archives, which are located in the North wing. The great hall and larger central rooms of the castle are used as formal meeting spaces for the government. Typically this is where foreign affairs meetings are held. Diplomats are also housed here when they visit Titania, in one of the many bedrooms in the upper levels. This is ideal since it does not require extra travel and there is already heavy security on site.
The castle is renown for its eclectic architecture which includes: towers with multi-layered roofs and elaborately decorated spires, rib vaulting, flying buttresses, and large peaked windows with stained-glass murals laid into them. There is also intricate wooden rafting inside the great hall which is renown for its rich, red-tinted wood from trees that have since been endangered. The wood was very popular during the 16th and 17th centuries however very few structures remain that have the original woodwork, and none as grand as Athaal-Bĵorg.
If you want a decent visual of the castle, it is similar to Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, with some added Gothic features and Medieval Scandinavian architecture thrown in.