Lida Castle was one of several citadels erected by Grand Duke Gediminas of Lithuania in the early 14th century to defend his lands against the expansion of the Teutonic Knights. Other links in this chain of defense included Hrodna, Navahrudak, Kreva, Medininkai, and Trakai. The modern town of Lida, Belarus grew up around this castle.
The site selected for the castle is naturally defended by the Kamenka and Lida rivers to east and west. Construction of boulder walls was carried out in 1323-1325. Later they were faced with red brick. The castle had two angle towers and a church, which was moved outside the walls in 1533. The upper storeys of both towers were lived in.
Despite its strong fortifications, Lida was taken by the Teutonic Knights on several occasions in 1384 and 1392. Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas gave it to his ally, Khan Tokhtamysh, who settled 'in a yurt near the castle'. In 1406, the family of Yury of Smolensk was locked up in Lida as hostages; his attempt to take the castle and liberate them was not successful. In 1433, Lida was a point of contention between Švitrigaila and his cousin Sigismund Kęstutaitis.
The following decades were somewhat less stormy. Lida was ravaged by the Crimean Tatars in 1506 and it was stormed by the Russians during the Russo-Polish War in 1659. The Swedes, taking it twice during the Great Northern War, had both towers blown up. In 1794, the castle grounds were the site of a battle between Kościuszko's followers and the Russians.
After the city fire of 1891, the south-western tower and parts of the western wall of the castle were torn down to provide stone for repairing fire-damaged houses. A team of archaeologists from St. Petersburg intervened to halt vandalism. There was only a slight restoration of the walls in the 1920s.
During much of the 20th century, an itinerant zoo or circus occupied the castle compound. Every December a Christmas tree was placed within the walls. It was not until 1982 that a restoration campaign was launched. The red brick was used to denote the newly reconstructed sections (up to 12 meters in height). Significant restoration was held in 2010.
Each year, the Lida Castle hosts a medieval-style tournament. A museum is being created within its towers.References:
The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.
The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.
Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.
Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.
The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.
During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.
In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.