A castle (cum castro) in Żywiec was first mentioned in 1467, as destroyed by an army, under Casimir IV Jagiellon's command against the House of Komorowski, with the Korczak Coat of Arms, recorded by Jan Długosz. However it is not certain whether it denoted the castle in the town or a fortifications on a nearby Grójec hill. Archaeological scrutiny dates the origins of the castle in the first half of the 15th century. A later expansion was constructed in 1567 by the House of Komorowski. Under the ownership and will of Jan Spytek Komorowski, during the castle's expansion a Renaissance style courtyard was built, which is still untouched in its current form.
Since 2005, the Old Castle in Żywiec hosts the City Museum in Żywiec. The Old Castle's permanent exhibition includes an ethnographical exhibition - which completes the Wooden Architecture Trail in the Silesian Voivodeship, in Poland.
Żywiec's Old Castle is encompassed by a 260,000 square metre landscape park, which was established initially in the 17th century.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).