The few months I was in Europe this year, I had visited a number of castles, especially in Germany. Tours to castles in Europe do not normally get me going because they all look similar. Once you visit one, you have seen eighty percent of what you will find in others. As such, after visiting a few in Germany and Czech Republic, I declined any trip to other castles.
But Kajuru Castle located in Kajuru, a town in northern Kaduna State of Nigeria will always get my yes. Maybe because it is not a traditional castle built for nobles or princes. It’s a holiday resort. So who doesn’t like to spend a holiday in a castle? When sweet Irene extended us the invitation, we came running.
Ever since we got back from the short holiday we spent there with my relatives, we cannot stop talking about the stay in the castle, the food we had, and the memories we created. We get many calls from those who missed it. The anxiousness to know more about the place is like a Barcelona or Real Madrid football club fan who missed the el-classico match and cannot wait to be told the final score.
Kajuru Castle is the most splendid man-made architectural feature I have seen in Nigeria. Absolutely beautiful and unique in all of Nigeria. The architecture is European, with stones forming parts of building frame. It stands tall on rocks, giving it the defense mechanism of seeing whoever is approaching it from all its sides.
Now many might wonder how a German castle found its way in Nigeria. Some might be quick in linking it to colonial times. But no, it’s not a colonial castle. It was built between 1985 and 1989 by a German who was contracted to build the airport in Kaduna State.
Many people will find it hard to believe that this castle exists in Northern Nigeria. Built on the rocky area of Kajuru, just 35 km south east of Kaduna. When we went for a short hike round the castle to the neighbouring hamlets of fulanis living there and on top of some of the rocks, the view from outside is breath-taking. I stood in awe, admiring the castle from one of the rocks slightly higher than the one the castle was built on. It was just damn beautiful.
As you drive uphill to the entrance of the castle, two towers on both sides of the gate intimidate you. There are three towers in all. Two have rooms on different floors and the other was fitted with woofer systems. Some slept in the room on the top most floor of one of the towers, while others slept in the master bedroom detached from the tower.
From the entrance, the terrain of the castle steeps down gently. On your right is a crocodile pond and on your left, a snake den. But the snake ran away we heard. Small snakes are occasionally seen in the castle though. There are peacocks and a cat in the castle.
Towards the end, is the one of a kind swimming pool. Built with iron steel and modest in size for anyone. As I dived in and swam to the other end, my body acclimatized with the slightly cold temperature of the water in the pool.
Around the pool are sitting areas. On the right is a little open hut, where we had lunch and dinner on the first day. Because the castle is on a rock, you can enjoy a good view of the bush around you. You can see part of the Kajuru town on the north, scattered hamlets on the south and east, and rocks and bush all around.
Inside the living room are armours and different artifacts relating to Germany. A shelf of books in German, also hang waiting to be perused for a few seconds before they are dropped back. My German is not good enough to read and comprehend novels.
Natural daylight almost fills the living room during the day, saving the castle of energy. A power generator located outside the castle powers it. Although a grid connection is also possible, the general manager, our host Bela, decided it was cheaper running it on diesel generator.
Air-conditioners, refrigerators and all modern electrical equipment are found in the castle. It is not the most Porsche resort in terms of electrical devices, but it is the best in terms of a place for relaxation and meditation.
On the first day we arrived, a nearby school was having an event and we could hear a little of what they were saying over the speakers they used. Aside that, the only sound you will hear in the castle is a comforting silence, occasionally interjected with sounds of birds, peacocks, breeze and passersby on a motor bike outside the castle. The sound of the engines of the bike will be heard in some few seconds before it slowly vanishes away.
It is the perfect location to get away from the noise and hassles of a city. Bela said if you want to reboot or rest your mind, the castle is the place to do it, ‘take the opportunity to’. Although his way of rebooting is different from mine and might be different from yours. In essence you find calmness and solitude in this castle.
A Hungarian engineer Stephen (his Nigerian name is Mustapha) along with Hannatu were the engineers in our kitchen. Our dear co-host, Irene, was always watching out for our welfare. Our first meal at the castle was lunch. We had gulash, nokeldi, cucumber salad with yoghurt, garlic and green pepper. Dessert was somloi galuska, a delicious sweet cake. Before you get lost in the names, why don’t you see the photos below?
The taste of European culture didn’t end with the architecture of the German castle and Hungarian lunch. Dinner was Serbian, or more appropriately, Turkish. Pljeskavuca (grilled beef) with chips and spring onions together with Serbian salad. And then, the best thing since sliced bread, torta. Torta is the perfect cake you will want to melt on your tongue. Mustapha’s said its called the big cake. It took us 18 hours to finish it, although with much caution preventing us from finishing it that night.
Our last meal, lunch on Sunday, was vadas marha zsemlegomboccal, green salad sour cabage and torta again as dessert. The kids didn’t really like this meal, only torta.
But this short stay capped the holiday of holidays for me. I never saw it coming. I cannot wait to get back to Kajuru. Matter of fact, I think I have found a great place to start penning down a book. It’s the perfect environment to let loose your creative potential.
I am not sure what mindset people take out when they leave castles. But ours were rejuvenated, refreshed and cheerful. All we kept saying is this has been the perfect weekend ever. And just how long do you have to wait for your best weekend of the year if it falls in December?
Does Kajuru Castle interest you? Have you visited it or you want to? Ping me for details of how you can schedule a visit there.
PS: If you want to see more photos of Kajuru Castle, follow my Instagram account sadiqgulma.