Anichkov Palace is a former imperial palace, named after the nearby Anichkov Bridge across the Fontanka. Designed for the Empress Elizabeth of Russia in a dazzling Baroque style, the palace came to be known as the most imposing private residence of the Elizabethan era. Some suggest architects Bartolomeo Rastrelli andMikhail Zemtsov were responsible for the design, though it's yet to be substantiated. The main frontage faces the river and was originally connected to it by a Canal.
Construction works continued for thirteen years and, when finally finished in 1754, the palace was presented by the Empress to her favourite and likely spouse, Count Aleksey Razumovsky. After his death, the palace reverted to the crown, only to be donated by Catherine the Great of Russia to her own favourite, Prince Potemkin, in 1776. The architect Ivan Starov was charged with extensive renovations of the palace in the newly-fashionable Neoclassical style, which was effected in 1778 and 1779. Simultaneously a regular park was laid out by an English garden architect, William Hould.
Upon Potemkin's demise, the palace was restored to the crown and adapted to accommodate Her Imperial Majesty's Cabinet. The last major structural additions were made in the reign of Alexander I, with Quarenghi's construction of the Imperial Cabinet along Nevsky Avenue. The latter structure was formulated in a rigorous Neoclassical style and many people feel that it doesn't complement Rastrelli's original work. Three year later, Alexander I bestowed the palace on his sister, Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna of Russia – she was later the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin by marriage. Several architects worked on the edifice since then, and its interiors were continuously refurbished.
The future Alexander III of Russia saw new life breathed into the palace, ensuring its refacing in a variety of historic styles. It was there that the last Russian tsar, Nicholas II, spent his childhood years. It was also the setting for numerous family festivities, including the wedding of Nicholas's niece Irina Romanova to Prince Felix Yusupov in 1914. It is often said that the family of the last tsar preferred the cozy apartments of Anichkov Palace to the vastness of their official residence, the Winter Palace. His mother, Maria Feodorovna, continued to have right of residence in the palace until the February Revolution, although she had moved to Kiev away from St. Petersburg. After the revolution the Ministry of Provisions moved there instead.
Following the October Revolution, the Anichkov Palace was nationalized and designated the St. Petersburg City Museum. Since 1934, when it was converted into the Young Pioneer Palace, the palace has housed over hundred after-school clubs for more than 10,000 children. While a small museum inside is open to the public at selected times, the edifice is normally not accessible to tourists.References:
Czocha Castle is located on the Lake Leśnia, what is now the Polish part of Upper Lusatia. Czocha castle was built on gneiss rock, and its oldest part is the keep, to which housing structures were later added.
Czocha Castle began as a stronghold, on the Czech-Lusatian border. Its construction was ordered by Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, in the middle of the 13th century (1241–1247). In 1253 castle was handed over to Konrad von Wallhausen, Bishop of Meissen. In 1319 the complex became part of the dukedom of Henry I of Jawor, and after his death, it was taken over by another Silesian prince, Bolko II the Small, and his wife Agnieszka. Origin of the stone castle dates back to 1329.
In the mid-14th century, Czocha Castle was annexed by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. Then, between 1389 and 1453, it belonged to the noble families of von Dohn and von Kluks. Reinforced, the complex was besieged by the Hussites in the early 15th century, who captured it in 1427, and remained in the castle for unknown time (see Hussite Wars). In 1453, the castle was purchased by the family of von Nostitz, who owned it for 250 years, making several changes through remodelling projects in 1525 and 1611. Czocha's walls were strengthened and reinforced, which thwarted a Swedish siege of the complex during the Thirty Years War. In 1703, the castle was purchased by Jan Hartwig von Uechtritz, influential courtier of Augustus II the Strong. On August 17, 1793, the whole complex burned in a fire.
In 1909, Czocha was bought by a cigar manufacturer from Dresden, Ernst Gutschow, who ordered major remodelling, carried out by Berlin architect Bodo Ebhardt, based on a 1703 painting of the castle. Gutschow, who was close to the Russian Imperial Court and hosted several White emigres in Czocha, lived in the castle until March 1945. Upon leaving, he packed up the most valuable possessions and moved them out.
After World War II, the castle was ransacked several times, both by soldiers of the Red Army, and Polish thieves, who came to the so-called Recovered Territories from central and eastern part of the country. Pieces of furniture and other goods were stolen, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the castle was home to refugees from Greece. In 1952, Czocha was taken over by the Polish Army. Used as a military vacation resort, it was erased from official maps. The castle has been open to the public since September 1996 as a hotel and conference centre. The complex was featured in several movies and television series. Recently, the castle has been used as the setting of the College of Wizardry, a live action role-playing game (LARP) that takes place in their own universe and can be compared to Harry Potter.