Biržai Castle is an earth bastion-type castle. The construction started in 1586 by the order of Krzysztof Mikołaj Radziwiłł. In 1575, preparing for this construction, a dam was built on the Agluona and Apaščia rivers at their confluence, and the artificial Lake Širvėna, covering about 40 km², was created. Major castle building works were finished in 1589.
Since the second half of the 17th century, the castle has been the main seat of the Biržai-Dubingiai Radziwiłł family line, which was transferred here from the Dubingiai Castle. Biržai Castle served as a major defensive structure during the wars with Sweden.
The castle was reconstructed from ruins in the 1980s, in the Renaissance-Baroque style. The residential manor of the castle houses a library and a regional history museum 'Sėla' (literally Selonia), founded in 1928.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.