In my novel Brute, Brute moves to the capital city of Tellomer and ends up with a job in the palace. His quarters are in the Brown Tower and his task is to guard the mysterious man imprisoned there.
The palace--which is really more of a castle--and the Brown Tower were inspired largely by a real place: the Tower of London.
I've visited the Tower of London a couple of times and it's an amazing place. The oldest parts of it are nearly 1000 years old and it's served in a variety of capacities: fortification, palace, armory, prison, place to store the crown jewels. Of course, nowadays it makes a nifty tourist attraction.
What struck me about the Tower was the way it was like a small city unto itself. At one time, people lived there and worked there, and there would have been stables, kitchens, workshops, and so on. There must have been a lot of activity going on almost all the time. There were tragedies, everyday dramas, and mysteries that remain unsolved. Gray's prison, the Brown Tower, was most closely inspired by the Bloody Tower.
The Croatian city of Dubrovnik (the "Pearl of the Adriatic") also played a part in my imagining of Brute's home. It's a city rather than a castle, but it's surrounded by a fortified wall and the old city isn't very big--if you walk the entire wall, it's only about a mile. It took us a very long time, though, because we kept stopping to take pictures. Dubrovnik is one of the most picturesque places I've visited. It was once an important city-state, the republic of Ragusa.
Below are a few of the zillion photos I took in Dubrovnik. Incidentally, the city may look familiar if you've been watching Game of Thrones. It's where they're shooting the King's Landing scenes.
Next week: Portland