Spain/Navarre: Palacio Real de Olite

Palacio Real de Olite (aka Palace of the Kings of Navarre of Olite) is a castle-palace and the seat of former kings of Navarre, the medieval kingdom sandwiched between France and Spain. When I was little, I read all seven novels by Maurice Druon, action-packed historical fiction about the French kings that prominently featured Navarre and this palace in particular. Unlike the uplifting and romantic Dumas books, Druon was full of intrigue, betrayal, poisoning, fighting, sex – like an R-rated Hollywood version of Three Musketeers directed by Quentin Tarantino. Anyway, the palace is spectacular and absolutely fairytale-like with spiky towers, hanging gardens, turreted walls and spiral staircases leading up to the tops of the observation towers that look like they should have a beautiful princess imprisoned at the top (I checked – they didn’t).