Gargoyles are a wonderful and fascinating aspect of gothic architecture that we have enjoyed all across Europe. The Goths themselves (no, not the kind you find in your neighborhood high school) are a bit mysterious, which adds to the fun. They (the Goths) apparently originated in Scandanavia, probably Sweden, though this is somewhat in doubt. They migrated all the way across Europe, as far east as perhaps the Ukraine, and as far west as England and Portugal. Despite their enormous reach, their greatest influence is architectural, since they had almost no success in establishing a lasting governing empire.
But their architectural influence can hardly be overstated. And among the most awesome feature of gothic architecture is the gargoyle, which come in a wondrous variety of zoomorphic (animal-like) shapes. Most often, these fantastic creatures serve a useful purpose–they drain the water from the roof through their mouths. In a good rainstorm, it looks like a bunch of weird creatures barfing. Awesome!
Check out these three, from the Chateau in Amboise: