Klaipėda Castle, also known as Memelburg or Memel Castle, is an archeological site and museum housed in a castle built by the Teutonic Knights. The castle was first mentioned in written sources in 1252, and underwent numerous destructions and reconstructions in the centuries that followed.
The Christian Teutonic Order had been waging an ongoing war against the Prussians during the 13th century; in order to entrench their gains, the Teutons built a number of castles in the area. One such castle was planned for a location between the Nemunas and Dangėrivers. A written account of this plan is dated to 1252, when a Grand Master of the Teutons, represented by Eberhard von Seyne, made an agreement with the Curonian bishop to build this fortification. In the same year the Christians constructed the castle and named it Memelburg. The new castle was wooden, protected by a tower, and was in a marshy area. It is likely that this first castle was located on the left bank of the Danė river. It soon became a prime outpost in the war between the Christian Orders and the pagan Lithuanians allied with the Samogitians.
Probably because the low-lying area in which the first castle was built presented problems, a new stone castle was erected on the right bank of the Danė river in 1253. The new castle contained an enclosure; currently it is unknown whether it had any defensive tower. In 1379 the castle was destroyed in an attack by the Samogitians and Lithuanians. This destruction was followed by reconstruction; in 1393 a major defensive tower was erected, which was, however, destroyed by the Lithuanians in the same year. Continued expansions and renovations of the castle were systematically pursued until the 15th century. In 1408 and 1409 Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingenarrived with additional military engineers, and the castle's upgrade was completed soon afterwards in 1409. After the Teutonic Order lost the key Battle of Grunwald in 1410, the castle's military importance was sustained, as Lithuanian rulers regarded these territories as part of their patrimony. In the mid-15th century the castle was again upgraded to withstand assaults using firearms.
As the technologies used in warfare continued to evolve, the castle was rebuilt several times. During the 16th century it was upgraded into a bastion, becoming one of the first such fortifications in the region. Between 1529 and 1559 the castle underwent an upgrade by French engineers. After its reconstruction the castle had five towers associated with the main building. The main tower probably had six floors and was about 15 meters in diameter. In 1629 the castle was devastated by Swedish attacks; it later suffered major fire damage. In 1757 the castle sustained severe damage during a war with Russia. The last known reconstruction of the castle was done in 1763.
During the late 18th century the castle lost its military importance and fell into disrepair. It was partially dismantled and its parts and materials were sold by local authorities. Between 1872 and 1874 the last remaining buildings were demolished.
A museum was opened at the castle in 2002 The museum is located in the Prince Fredric chamber under the bastion, where artillery was stored in the 17th century. Visitors may familiarize themselves with the excavated findings, view the authentic remaining sections of the castle, and follow its historical development. The castle's site has since become one of Klaipėda's most popular tourist attractions. The annual Klaipėda Castle Jazz Festival is held on the grounds.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.
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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.