Strzelce Opolskie Castle was a former residence of the Dukes of Opole located in Strzelce Opolskie. The castle was burned down during World War II by the Soviets and remains in ruins to this day.
The town of Strzelce Opolskie was situated on the trade route Kraków–Wrocław–Dresden. The settlement was initially surrounded by a thick forest. An original wooden hunting lodge was probably replaced by a stone structure in the 13th century. The castle was first mentioned in Liber fundationis episcopatus Vratislaviensis as Castrum Strelecense. The document is believed to be compiled in 1305.
The castle was built on a simple rectangular plan measuring 16,1 x 13,9 m and was, in fact, a limestone tower. In 1323 Albert became the duke of an independent Duchy of Strzelce/Strehlitz. He carried out extensive renovations to the castle and built a series of fortifications and a moat around it. After his death the castle and the duchy was taken over by the Piasts of Niemodlin and after the extinction of the line in 1382 it was passed to the Piasts of Opole. The dynasty owned the castle up to its extinction in 1532.
In the first half of the 16th century the castle was in very poor condition. From 1562 to 1596 major renovation works were carried out. From the middle of the 17th century to the beginning of the 19th century it was in hands of the Colonna family. The castle's heyday came after 1815 when Andreas Renard took its ownership and made it his main residence. An English-style landscape park was created in 1832. In 1840 Andreas Renard extended and remodelled the palace adding an adjacent tower and building horse stables near the west wing.
From 1932 to 1945 the palace was possessed by the Castell family. On 21 January 1945 Soviet troops set the town and castle on fire. The building remains in ruins to this day.References:
Easter Aquhorthies stone circle, located near Inverurie, is one of the best-preserved examples of a recumbent stone circle, and one of the few that still have their full complement of stones. It consists of a ring of nine stones, eight of which are grey granite and one red jasper. Two more grey granite stones flank a recumbent of red granite flecked with crystals and lines of quartz. The circle is particularly notable for its builders' use of polychromy in the stones, with the reddish ones situated on the SSW side and the grey ones opposite.
The placename Aquhorthies derives from a Scottish Gaelic word meaning 'field of prayer', and may indicate a 'long continuity of sanctity' between the Stone or Bronze Age circle builders and their much later Gaelic successors millennia later. The circle's surroundings were landscaped in the late 19th century, and it sits within a small fenced and walled enclosure. A stone dyke, known as a roundel, was built around the circle some time between 1847 and 1866–7.