Hidden Women Books

CELTIC
SITES
TO VISIT

The places listed below contain rich samplings of Celtic culture. If you have the chance to visit, we recommend these highly from our own personal experience. There’s nothing quite like being on site!

 
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Austria

 
 
An Asparn Cabin

Asparn-an-der-Zaya MAMUZ open-air archaeological museum
Pre-Christian

Reconstructed from the archaeological excavations at nearby Sandberg and representing several eras up to the Iron Age, the Celtic village makes you want to move into it.  The museum in the castle right next to the village contains remarkable medical instruments, technology and art.

 
 
Sandberg area vineyards

From excavations at Sandberg, ancient Celtic settlement
Pre-Christian

Amid rolling hills of vineyards, this Celtic village clearly must have enjoyed the fruits of their labor.  Evidence of the community wine cellar in the middle of town shows ancient wine technology, storage and consumption.

 
 
Frauenstein castle

Frauenstein castle
a remote & stunningly beautiful area 

Remote and hidden away, this castle probably served as refuge for women during the hundreds of years that they were hunted and burned as witches.  Multiple castle ruins in this sector are reachable from this point by hiking trails and may have comprised a system of fortified safe houses.  This one is under restoration.

 
 
Keltenwelt nude female statue

Keltenwelt at Frög
Celtic burial grounds & museum

A beautiful setting allows the visitor a sense of Celtic ways, with a multitude of displays and artifacts well presented in the museum.

 
 
Magdalenaberg, Austria

Magdalenaberg, ancient Celtic gold mining settlement
Pre-Christian

Step into the Celtic world on a sublime mountaintop.  Explore the actual site, a museum of remarkable remembrance and hospitable, knowledgeable Gasthaus.

 
 
Knezi kamen

Maria Saal, Gailtaler Heimatmuseum, the Duke’s Chair
Pre-Christian

The 7th century duchy of Carantania conducted democratic proceedings in choosing their duke or duchess to be their leading official.   The candidate had to sit in this chair and answer questions about whether he or she would act fairly, and then receive a slap in the face representing the public’s right to object.

 
 
Piber Abbey

Piber festive hall & Lippizaner center

The care and decoration of horses is prevalent in Celtic artifacts.  In Piber, what is now a church but probably the former festive hall, sits right next to the stables of the famed Lipizzaner horses that are also heralded at their Slovenian location in Lipica.  The ceiling ribbing, repeated throughout the Celtic world, is highlighted by a contrasting color with a medallion at the intersection.

 
 
Rein Abbey

Rein Abbey near Graz
probably a former Celtic abbey

This abbey was probably built and run by Celts, but then overtaken by the church state.  When Celtic, it likely served as a learning center for both academic and vocational pursuits, a fortified complex that welcomed wayfarers.  After conquest, abbeys would be turned into the master-servant, male-domineering system from the egalitarian one.

 
 

Belgium

 
 
Aulne Abbey, Thuin

Aulne Abbey
Merovingian-Carolingian

By setting and layout, this abbey could as easily be in England or Slovenia – From the quality of the masonry to repeating arches and towers, Celtic preferences abound here.

 
 
Bruges, Philip le Bon church ceiling

Bruges, Basilica
now named Basilica of the Holy Blood, where last Duke of Burgundy lay in state
15th century

Gilded, colorful, finely crafted ceiling, pillars and arches emblematize Celtic style.

 
 
Bruges, cloth hall  & courtyard arches

Bruges, Cloth Hall museum
15th century

It’s easy to imagine the interior courtyard of this fortified textile market bustling with stands of fine fabrics from all over Europe.  Its tall tower can be seen from everywhere, signaling both the importance of the building and the need to keep watch. 

 
 
Bruges, Belgium. St. Jan hospital

Bruges, Oud Sint-Jan hospital museum
15th century

Canals and building reflect Celtic styles and skills.  Triangular facades and decorative door and window treatment as well as the quality of the craft is consistent throughout Europe. 

 
 
La jeunesse d'Hercule Tapestry

Brussels, Cinquantenaire
Museum of the Royal Museums for Art & History

15th century holdings

La Jeunesse d’Hercule tapestry evidences the importance of the Hercules legend in Celtic culture.  This museum contains a loom and substantial collection.  Buses run from Old Town out to this area of town.

 
 
Coudenberg, Brussels, 17th cen rendering

Brussels, Coudenberg Museum
15th century & earlier

17th century rendering of Coudenberg.  High-ceilinged, expansive, and replete with arched, striped doorways, the castle cellars have been excavated from underneath a parking lot and form part of the museum, even though the rest of the building was long-since destroyed. 

 
 
Porte de Halle.

Brussels, Halle Gate
15th century

City gates in Brussels attest to the severity of the threat faced in 15th century Burgundy, as well as the building expertise.  Note the conical slate roof of the towers, the scalloped edgings, detail,  balance and elegance of the construction.

 
 

Brussels, Royal Library of Belgium
15th century Collection

5 volumes list works belonging to the Dukes of Burgundy collection. The exquisitely crafted Books of Hours of the Duke of Berry and hundreds of illuminated manuscripts shine a light into the beauty of 15th century living before the Hapsburg Empire cast Europe back into the dark feudalistic church state.

 
 
Ghent canal

Ghent, Gravensteen Museum
15th century & earlier

Canals, towers and triangular facades exhibit Celtic style and skill.  Hydrology constituted an important part of the defensive system, as well as connecting with other cities and towns for trade by waterway.

 
 
Kortrijk, mural, fallen couple, hero hall

Kortrijk (Courtrais) Catherine’s Chapel

This portrait of a fallen couple is a detail of one of the 3 walls of panels depicting full-body, full-scale decorated men and women warriors.  At the entry to the hall stands a rare sculpture of Charlemagne.  Nearby, a statue of Catherine holds an 8-spoked wheel, an invention that is celebrated as a recurring theme across the Celtic world.

 
 
Kortrijk city hall inside

Kortrijk (Courtais), City Hall

Heraldry and intricate wood and stone carving suggest Celtic origin in this exquisite city hall chamber.  On the mural, finely-clad women are depicted in active roles with their heads up.  The entire beautifully-designed building is open to the public.

 
 
7th century golden decoration

Tournai Archaeological Museum

This small gem of a museum contains a mock-up of the burial chamber of Childeric, a 5th century, Frankish, Merovingian leader, that was excavated near Tournai, as well as many artifacts from that era.

 
 
Woman holding tongue

Tournai Tapestry Museum

A woman literally holds her tongue while being dragged from her hearth in this tapestry detail.  It feels as though these tapestries are still trying to speak to the world.

 
 

Czechia

 
 
Franktiskovy Lazne

Františkovy Lázne Frankish spa town described by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe as “heaven on earth”
Celtic-Frankish on-going

Thermal bath resort town, a comprehensive approach to wellness with parks, therapeutic programs, extensive trails in beautiful natural settings.

 
 
Karlovi Vari

Karlovy Vary, Frankish spa town
Celtic-Frankish on-going

This jewel of a hot springs resort town bears Charlemagne’s name.  With its gracious pavilions that shelter mineral water fountains, ornate, intricate ironwork and bridges that crisscross the river, it still stands as one of Europe’s greatest treasures.

 
 
Map of Loket

Loket
medieval

Snugly tucked into the river loop, this charming town defines the defensible location.  It is set in a lovely park.

 
 
Marienska Lazne park

Mariánské Lázné
Celtic-Frankish on-going

The hilltop park is the centerpiece in this lovely spa town. 

 
 
 

France

 
 
Alesia chalice

Alésia Celtic Museum and Archaeological Park
Pre-Christian

Chalice found at site displays intricate, decorative metallurgy with natural motifs.  This is the site where Romans starved thousands of Celts to death.  The museum shows Asterix comic books that portray the battles of Romans and Celts.  Valuable information is also displayed about the imaging technology that finally led to the discovery of this battleground.   

 
 
Beaune Hospice Women with children

Beaune, Hospital Museum
15th century

Mother and child hailed by kneeling man amid mille-fleurs background.  Honoring women and motherhood, anathema to Christianity’s degradation of women, marks this as Celtic.  The building complex here is stunningly beautiful and wonderfully restored, with information about medical history as well as the vaunted wine auctions for charity.

 
 
Beaune Dukes residence

Beaune, Dukes of Burgundy former residence
now wine museum 

Wine presses, barrels and other related equipment from the 15th century are displayed here from the era when Burgundian leadership based in Brussels, but also maintained a presence in what is now French Burgundy.

 
 
Bibracte hill

Bibracte, Hillfort & Museum of Celtic Civilization
Pre-Christian

Wooded hilltops in Bibracte region recall refuge from attack that the high forests provided Celts.  This was the area to which Julius Caesar repaired after starving out Alesia.  The outsize Roman villa dominated the previously same-sized housing units, and the population dissipated.. 

 
 
Celtic style natural motifs Bourges 15h c 3 trees

Bourges, Museum of Natural History
Pre-Christian

Natural motifs are rhythmically shown and bordered, Celtic-style.  The museum here contains an extensive collection of gravestones from a Celtic settlement.

 
 
Carcassonne castle

Carcassonne castle museum
Pre-Christian & medieval 

Conical-roofed tower in Frankish style in Carcassone stems from the time when the Church mounted a years-long Crusade against the Cathars here.  This area is also known for its Merovingian treasures.

 
 
Statue of woman

Châtillon-sur-Seine, Museum with Vix treasures
Pre-Christian

The museum here displays contents of an Iron Age woman’s burial chamber, including a golden torque and 6-foot tall wine crater.  Other grave findings include horses and decorations buried with their owners.  Items on display are extensive and wide-ranging.

 
 
Flavigny crypt archways

Flavigny Carolingian crypt

Arched doorways, staircases and superb masonry still characterize this Carolingian crypt of some 12 centuries ago. The town itself is charming, a museum in itself.

 
Fontenay forge hearth

Fontenay Abbey
medieval

Iron forge in grand space reflects Celtic regard for manual labor, in marked contrast with Roman attitudes that physical labor was for slaves.  Here production is honored and elevated by its surroundings. 

 
 
Germigny des près model

Germigny-des-Prés
Carolingian

Model of 9th century Carolingian building, probably a festive hall with large round space perfected suited to a banquet table.  The high windows of the central tower bring light into the entire space at all times of day.  The structure is set in a surrounding garden.

 
 
Issoire Romanesque

Issoire, now called church of Saint-Austremoine
medieval

Rhythmic medallions and motifs, arched, striped doorway, the balance “libra” all suggest Celtic origin.  Issoire is in the Auvergne region, home of Vercingetorix, who came to the aid of Alesia.  He was taken back to Rome and dragged to death behind a chariot in the coliseum.

 
 
Lille hospices facade

Lille, Hospices Comtesse Museum
15th century

Brightly colored and decorated Lille hospital from the 15th century accentuates door and window framing with striping to suggest arches and window quoins of alternating colors of brick. Lille was a seat of the Burgundian leaders in the 15th century.  Hospitals are part of their legacy. 

 
 
Lille palais Rihour interior with ceilling

Lille, Rihour Palace, Dukes of Burgundy
15th century

Rihour palace from 15th century Burgundy features vaulted ceiling in great hall and Frankish-style tower with conical roof.

 
 
Monthermé facade

Monthermé, Abbey of Laval Dieu
12th century

Dancing woman with shell radiating around her head, pentacle, triangular facade with spirals, brick corner quoins, spirals on crosspiece decoration on roof, all point to Celtic origination.

 
 
Cité replica

Paris, Cité Museum of Architecture

Recently opened at Trocadero, the Cité houses a large collection of full-scale replicas, models, cutaways, and videos that allow examination of monuments in multi-dimensional ways. 

 
 
Lady & the mirror

Paris, Cluny National Museum of the Middle Ages
Pre-Christian & medieval

All 6 Lady and the Unicorn tapestries with mille-fleurs background are on display at a newly-fashioned space. The tapestries contain myriad allegorical references and are precisely and expertly designed and crafted.   This one might show Marie of Burgundy, last of the Burgundian leaders, distraught by what she sees in history’s mirror.  Marie and her niece are credited with saving the 15th century library collection by spiriting it away to Spain.

 
 
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Paris, Archaeological Crypt of the Parvis of Notre Dame
Pre-Christian & medieval

One of the most surprising aspects of these excavations that were found during a renovation of Notre Dame is the extensive hospital and care facilities.  These ruins are attributed to the Gallic, or Celtic, era around the time of the Roman takeover.

 
 
02.15 IMG_0658 Conciergerie copy.jpg

Paris, Conciergerie
Medieval

This island in the Seine is probably the longest inhabited area in Paris, since such islands were most highly-prized for defensive capabilities.  Medieval aspects have been restored and opened as a museum.

 
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Paris, Sainte Chappelle 

The Sainte Chappelle features vaulted ceilings with gilded ribs and bright colors favored by Celts.  Many of the sculptures of females on the rhythmical pedestals around the room have been defaced. 

 
 
Abbaye des Prémontrés

Abbaye des Prémontrés

Once again welcoming wayfarers of both genders, this abbey is now open to the public for overnight stays and enjoyment of its beautifully restored gardens.  In the Lorraine area of France, the Hapsburgs long held sway. 

 
 
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Saint Denis, Basilica of St. Denis

Column capital of monk and terrified naked subject in crypt dating back to Merovingian era.  St. Denis also holds many references to early Turkish and Middle Eastern connections.

 
 
02.18 IMG_20160626_114713 St. Germain des Pres copy.jpg

Saint Germain des Près, part of former abbey
Pre-Christian & medieval

Brightly-colored and gilded ribs of vaulted ceiling, circular light fixtures, rhythmical designs all point to the Celtic origin prior to the Christian conquest of Paris.

 
 
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Saint Germain-en-Laye National Archaeological Museum
Pre-Christian & medieval

Celts favored this 3-pronged treskele design, shown here as a necklace.  A rich and diverse collection of artifacts and information is contained here.  Attached parks and gardens were designed by André le Notre.   St. Germain-en-Laye is an easy RER ride out of Paris.

 
 
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St. Maur des Fossés

Extensive ruins and gardens from a Merovingian abbey that is reached fairly easily from Paris by train.  A walk through the town brings you into the abbey district that includes a restaurant with a view into horse performance halls.  This abbey was known for its stables.

 
 

Germany

 
 
Aachen octagon

Aachen, octagonal tower in Palatine Chapel
Carolingian

According to legend, Charlemagne the Frank was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in this hall in Aachen, or Aix-la-Chappelle.  Given the ferocity with which the Franks sought freedom from Roman conquest and domination, however, it remains highly unlikely that Charles the Great would have submitted voluntarily to his ancestors’ arch-enemy.  

 
 
Dargun Abbey

Dargun Abbey, Mecklenburg
at least 12th century

Dargun Abbey features interior courtyard of multi-story galleries, typical of Frankish abbeys and castles.

 
 
Donnersberg village sketch

Donnersberg ancient Celtic settlement site
Pre-Christian

Fortified town of same-size dwellings with forested hilltop shows no sign of outside royal residence.

 
 
Eberbach coutryard

Eberbach Abbey & wine cellar
medieval

Rhythmical, brightly-colored arches and windows adorn the courtyard of this abbey that sits just above the entry of the Rhine River onto the plains.

 
 
Arches at Eldena Kloster

Eldena Kloster, Mecklenburg
12th century

Archways like these were commonly bricked in, presumably after imperial conquest, turning pavilions into enclosures.

 
 
Fulda crypt

Fulda, St. Michael’s Church crypt & Vonderau Museum Carolingian

Beneath what was probably a Celtic festival hall founded by Charlemagne, lie subterranean cellars, perhaps used for wine storage.

 
 
Glauberg gold necklace

Glauberg Archaeological Park & Museum
late Hallstatt, early La Tène

Gold jewelry, coriander, bread-making – these are a few of the surprises from the ancient Celtic population here, now shared with the museum through excavations.

 
 
Heidelberg Celtic hill

Heidelberg Museum of the Palatinate
Pre-Christian and medieval

This hill across the river from Heidelberg holds ancient Celtic burial grounds, many artifacts from which now form part of the local museum collection.

 
 
Heidengraben sketch of Iron Age village

Heidengraben, Baden Württemberg
Pre-Christian ancient Celtic burial site

Hamlets like the one shown here apparently spread across hundreds of acres in this area.  Only a small part is now being excavated.

 
 
Heuneberg festhall

Heuneburg, Celtic Museum
Pre-Christian

This festive hall belongs to the reconstructed fortified Iron Age village on the ridge over the Danube valley.

 
 
Hochdorf, Germany

Hochdorf, Celtic Museum
Pre-Christian

Ceilings constructed with mathematical precision and aesthetics are one of the hallmarks of Celtic buildings, like this Iron Age example at Hochdorf.

 
 
Painted ribs with decorations

Kornelimünster Abbey & fest hall
Carolingian

Colorful ribbing in the vaulting combine with natural motifs at the intersections to keep celebrants looking up in the original festive halls before conversion to churches.

 
 
Lorsch, Charlemagne's hall

Lorsch Abbey
Carolingian

Hexagons, diamonds and square tiles join with trompe-l’oeil pillars and archways in one of the abbeys founded by Charlemagne in the Odenwald.

 
 
Elizabethkirche Marburg hall church

Marburg Elizabethkirche, Hall-Church
Marburger Schloss (castle)

early medieval crossing of Cologne-Prague, North Sea to Alps routes

Transition from Celtic hall to Christian church can be detected here.

 
 
Mariaburg

Mariaburg

From the highest point around, Mariaburg commands a view down the Mosel River. Burg is the German word for castle, and its location certainly indicates defensive placement.

 
 
Prüm Abbey statue

Prüm Abbey
Carolingian

Rare surviving statue of female architect at an abbey from Charlemagne’s era, founded under his direction.

 
 
Celtic golden hat, Speyer Museum

Speyer, Historical Museum of the Palatinate
Pre-Christian

Along with this spectacular golden hat, this museum contains a wealth of Celtic Iron Age artifacts garnered from excavations in the surrounding area.

 
 
Stuttgart, Germany. Iron Age wagon

Stuttgart, State Museum of Archaeology
Pre-Christian

Housed in a splendid old castle, this museum contains considerable golden Iron Age jewelry, gilded horns and other ornamentation.

 
Stolpe castle, Usedom, Mecklenburg, Germany

Usedom, Stolpe Castle, Mecklenburg
plentiful Pre-Christian artifacts found in this area

Remarkable crafting in a castle, with nearby abbey and ferry dock.

 
 
Magdalenenberg site

Villingen Franziskanermuseum & site of tumulus excavation
Pre-Christian

Posts like these occur at other Celtic burial sites to mark the location.  Finds from this site are on display at the museum.

 
 
Gold coins, Worms

Worms, Germany, Celtic “Borbetomagus,” on Rhine River, City Museum at the wall
Pre-Christian

A wealth of treasures await at the Worms in the museum located in the former Andreas Abbey.  This city used to be the Burgundian capital.

 
 
Wysburg map of Celtic village

Wysburg

Hard to find excavation, this site is valuable for its placards of archaeological information and the typically Celtic surrounds.

 
 

Luxembourg

 
 
Castle in Clairvaux

Clairvaux Museum

Exhibits here allow valuable insights into Luxembourg’s castles, with numerous models.  Explanations also point out that royalty took over the castles after conquest, but that the castles served defensive purposes beforehand, with their massive fortifications. 

 
 
Titelberg foundations

Titelberg 

Remote and inaccessible, this active excavation of festive hall, market place, baths can be seen through fencing.  A long hike from parking follows many miles on a one-lane dirt road. 

 
 

Slovenia

 
 
Bled castle

Bled Castle Museum
Pre-Christian

Video presentations enrich the displays, and the building itself provides familiar Celtic style.   The museum in this stunning setting welcomes guests to linger on its inviting terraces and restaurant, with traditional Celtic hospitality. 

 
 
Bogensperk

Bogensperk

Permanent and temporary exhibits enhance the understanding of this castle for which 17th century author and illustrator Janez Valvasor is renown. Wagensberg, in German, was also a home base for the Duchess of Mecklenburg, who prior to WWI uncovered thousands of Iron Age artifacts.  Part of her collection belongs to Harvard’s Peabody Museum and Harvard Press has published a book about her finds in Slovenia and Hallstatt.

 
 
Celje tower

Celje, Castle on the hill, Counts of Celje
Pre-Christian & medieval

Both the fortifications here on the hilltop and the view they afford give a sense of Celtic love of beauty and their extensive defensive systems.

 
 
Celje Counts; mansion museum

Celje, Regional Museum, Counts of Celje domain
medieval

From the 11th century, the Counts of Celje served as officials in the overall defensive system of duchies, with multiple counties constituting one duchy.  This was their official residence.   

 
 
Celje Archeology Museum

Celje Archaeological Museum

This tombstone with a scene from the Trojan War is an example of the vast collection in the Archaeological Museum in Cell.

 
 
Pannonia-Norican girl from southern Austria

Ljubljana, National Museum
Pre-Christian

“Norico-Pannonian girl as shown on a funerary monument from Klagenfurt in southern Austria.”  These and other displays from the first several centuries of the current era distinguish this rich collection of pre- and post- Roman occupation artifacts.

 
 
Metlika museum courtyard

Metlika Museum

A collection like this in a surprising out-of-the-way refuge castle exemplifies both the importance and commonality of Celtic style. 

 
 
Horses on situla in Novo Mesto

Lower Carniola Museum, or the Dolenjska Museum
in Novo Mesto

Horses prance along on a wine-mixing vessel, or situla, in the Dolenjska Museum in Novo Mesto, in an impressive collection of local Celtic artifacts.

 
 
Otocec castle

Otocec Castle

Although the castle is now a private hotel on the island, the grounds and parklands remain open to the public.  The courtyard is a perfect place for afternoon tea.  Nearby thermal resort Šmarješke Toplice features parklands and connections with hiking trails.  The island in the river and nearby Novo mesto in a loop in the river made prime defensible places.

 
 
Pleterje gate

Pleterje Abbey

An abbey still known for its spirits, namely distillations of fruits like pear, apple and plum, visitors are still welcomed into restricted areas of its operations. Products are for sale in the tourist shop.

 
 
Ptuj castle

Ptuj, Castle Museum
Pre-Christian & medieval

Said to be Slovenia’s oldest Roman town, the town known as Poetovia must have housed an earlier Celtic one until it was overtaken. The view of the Pannonian Plains is splendid on a clear day, and old town is fascinating.  A pedestrian bridge over the river connects with a thermal resort.

 
 
Sticna valley

Stična Abbey
Pre-Christian & medieval

Historically Stična was renown for its library and agriculture.  The library was burned in the Middle Ages, consistent with the theory that the older abbeys began as Celtic bastions of learning.  Roman Catholics notoriously burned books of peoples they were overtaking, for example throughout South America and the Phillipines.

 
 
Zice

Žiče Abbey
medieval

A center for illuminated manuscripts, pottery and wine, this complex also contains ruins of an old festive hall and hording. Gardens provided sustenance inside and outside the walls.