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 famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.
The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.
In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.
During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.
Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.
The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.
During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.