Around 600 BC, the city-states of Cyprus were split between those that leant towards the east and the Phoenicians, and those that were more Greek supporting. During the great wars between the Greeks and the Persians, the city-states of Cyprus were politically divided. The Phoenicians supported the Persians, and this resulted in battles between the island's kingdoms.
Battles on land and sea were waged, and in 500 BC a pro-Persian city, Marion, not only besieged Soli, but kept an eye on it by establishing a settlement on a nearby hill. This settlement was Vouni.
In 449 BC, however, the Persians were defeated by the Greeks, and the pro-Persian inhabitants of Vouni were replaced by Solians. In 391 BC, Evagoras seized the kingdom of Salamis, and attempted to extend his control to the entire island. Soli and some other cities had to ask for help from the Persians to fight against Evagoras. With the help of the Persians, Soli regained its political power.
In 380 BC, the palace which had been a continuous threat to Soli, was mysteriously destroyed by fire, and the inhabitants evacuated. Hence the history of Vouni lasts only 120 years.
In the beginning, the palace was little more than a military settlement, but after 449 BC, when Greek rule was established, the ruler of Marion was replaced by a pro-Greek prince, and Vouni became a royal palace. Excavations have shown that there were four different construction periods. The first construction was in 500BC when the core of the palace was built. It consisted of state apartments, large store rooms and bathrooms. During the Persian period, between 500 and 450BC, some minor changes were made. During the Greek rule between 450-390 BC, there were major alterations, and a second storey with mud brick walls was added. Further minor alterations were made between 390 and 380 BC.
The palace complex you see today is made up of three terraces. The highest point has the Athena shrine. Very little remains of this.
The middle terrace has the palace and religious buildings. The palace is believed to have had 137 rooms. There is a fountain in the middle of the courtyard, which is surrounded on three sides by rooms. The water needs of the palace were fulfilled by storing rain water in numerous cisterns which dot the site.
The large standing stone stele standing by the cistern in the courtyard was designed to hold a windlass, and is believed to have been brought here from elsewhere. This stone has become the symbol of Vouni. There are also food storage rooms where amphorae were found. Most of the rooms on the eastern side are used for storage, but baths were also found on this side. These baths are some of the earliest examples of fully equipped Roman baths.
The lower terrace faces the sea, and contains houses with stone bases and mud brick upper storeys which housed most of the residents. The excavations in the 1920s unearthed a baked clay cup, blackened by the fire which destroyed the palace. In addition, gold and silver bracelets, silver bowls, and hundreds of coins bearing the stamps of Marion, Kiton, Lapithos and Paphos were discovered.
From the palace, you can see the small island of Petra Tou Limnidi. This is one of the oldest places in Cyprus to be inhabited, and was excavated at the same time as Vouni. Archaeologists found items going back to the Neolithic age, consisting of bone needles, stone utensils, farming tools , and sculptures.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.