Bielsko-Biała Castle is the oldest and largest construction of historical importance, erected in the old town of Bielsko. A legend says that in its place there used to be a settlement of robbers who attacked travelling merchants. The Opole Prince, Casimir (1229/30) of the Piasts is said to have conquered that fortalice, wiped out the robbers and had the hunting palace erected in that place, which over the years grew into a magnificent castle around which the city of Bielsko developed.
The oldest part of the Castle dates back to 14th century. Over the next centuries the Castle gradually developed and transformed. Over the centuries it performed the function of a Silesian border-stronghold, first guarding the borders of Cieszyn and Oświęcim district duchies and then in the second half of the 15th century it protected the Czech and Polish state border and from 1526 - the Austrian-Polish border.
Starting from the close of the 16th century, its defensive role was declining and the Castle gradually transformed into a nobleman’s mansion. The present appearance of the castle dates back to the last, thorough reconstruction undertaken in the second half of the 19th century, which entirely wiped out its previous characteristics of style.
During the years 1899-1973, in place of brick breast wall presently seen on the east part of the Castle, there used to be a parade of bazaars, constituting an attractive architectural foundation for the body of the Castle. The bazaars were pulled down in connection with widening of Zamkowa Street.
After World War II the Castle was taken over by the Polish State as the property left by the Germans and was facilitated as the seat of many cultural institutions. Since 1983 the Castle sole usufructary has been the national Museum in Bielsko-Biała, subordinated to Silesian local government in Katowice.
Three local branches of the The Bielsko-Biała Museum have been established since the 1970s: the Julian Fałat Museum, the Museum of Technology and Textile Industry, and the Weaver's House Museum.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.