In 1311, Teutonic mercenaries called Landsknechts set up a camp on the high banks of the Angrapa River, close to where it flows into the Inster River. Later, in 1337, the Teutonic Knights built a brick castle in the same location. Most of the construction works had been completed by 1347. The fortress was named Insterburg Castle.
For many centuries to follow, Insterburg Castle was a bastion located in the easternmost parts of the Teutonic State, from which raids against Lithuania were waged. Originally, Insterburg Castle was meant to serve as a seat for the local commander, known as komtur. But this plan had to be revoked, as the fortress was constantly threatened by enemy. As a result, the castle was run by a Teutonic procurator, and in the 14th - 15th centuries it became an important military base. In the administrative division, Insterburg belonged to the commandry of Königsburg.
From 1643 to 1647, Maria Eleonora, a sister of the Prussian Prince Elector George Wilhelm, spent her best days at Insterburg Castle, after her royal husband, King of Sweden, Gustaw Adolf, had died. Following the death of her husband, Queen Maria Eleonora had to leave Sweden due to a conflict with her daughter, Queen Christina.
In 1812, the castle was visited by the French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon stopped here on his way to Russia, where he was going to take personal command over his armies. In 1814, Elisabeth Alexeievna, the wife of Tzar Alexander I of Russia (1777-1825) was passing through Insterburg. In 1689, Insterburg became the place of the death and burial of Anchen von Tarau, a heroine of a well known East Prussian song.
Today the castle, which lies in the centre of the town of Chernyakhovsk is no more but a picturesque ruin. The north section of the castle outward yard had more luck as its building have survived and now house a museum. On the square in front of the museum local enthusiasts and artists such as singers and musicians organise concerts, contests and other cultural events. And most importantly, hope lingers on in the town that one day the castle will be reconstructed.References:
The Cloth Hall in Kraków dates to the Renaissance and is one of the city's most recognizable icons. It is the central feature of the main market square in the Kraków Old Town (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978).
The hall was once a major centre of international trade. Traveling merchants met there to discuss business and to barter. During its golden age in the 15th century, the hall was the source of a variety of exotic imports from the east – spices, silk, leather and wax – while Kraków itself exported textiles, lead, and salt from the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
Kraków was Poland's capital city and was among the largest cities in Europe already from before the time of the Renaissance. However, its decline started with the move of the capital to Warsaw in the very end of the 16th century. The city's decline was hastened by wars and politics leading to the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century. By the time of the architectural restoration proposed for the cloth hall in 1870 under Austrian rule, much of the historic city center was decrepit. A change in political and economic fortunes for the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria ushered in a revival due to newly established Legislative Assembly or Sejm of the Land. The successful renovation of the Cloth Hall, based on design by Tomasz Pryliński and supervised by Mayor Mikołaj Zyblikiewicz, Sejm Marshal, was one of the most notable achievements of this period.
The hall has hosted many distinguished guests over the centuries and is still used to entertain monarchs and dignitaries, such as Charles, Prince of Wales and Emperor Akihito of Japan, who was welcomed here in 2002. In the past, balls were held here, most notably after Prince Józef Poniatowski had briefly liberated the city from the Austrians in 1809. Aside from its history and cultural value, the hall still is still used as a center of commerce.
On the upper floor of the hall is the Sukiennice Museum division of the National Museum, Kraków. It holds the largest permanent exhibit of the 19th-century Polish painting and sculpture, in four grand exhibition halls arranged by historical period and the theme extending into an entire artistic epoch. The museum was upgraded in 2010 with new technical equipment, storerooms, service spaces as well as improved thematic layout for the display.
The Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art was a major cultural venue from the moment it opened on October 7, 1879. It features late Baroque, Rococo, and Classicist 18th-century portraits and battle scenes by Polish and foreign pre-Romantics.