The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam. The museum has on display 8,000 objects of art and history, from their total collection of 1 million objects from the years 1200–2000. The collection contains more than 2,000 paintings from the Dutch Golden Age by notable painters such as Jacob Isaakszoon van Ruisdael, Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer, Jan Steen, Rembrandt, and Rembrandt's pupils. Probably the most well known pieces of art are The Milkmaid (c. 1658) painted by Johannes Vermeer and The Night Watch (1642) by Rembrandt.
The Rijksmuseum was founded in The Hague in 1800 and moved to Amsterdam in 1808, where it was first located in the Royal Palace and later in the Trippenhuis. The current main building was designed by Pierre Cuypers and first opened its doors in 1885. On 13 April 2013, after a ten-year renovation which cost € 375 million, the main building was reopened by Queen Beatrix. In 2013, it was the most visited museum in the Netherlands with a record number of 2.2 million visitors.
The museum has taken the unusual step of making some 125,000 high-resolution images available for download via its Rijks Studio software, with plans to add another 40,000 images per year until the entire collection of one million works is available, according to Taco Dibbits, director of collections.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.