Vlkolinec is a remarkably intact unitary settlement of a characteristic central European type with log-built architecture, which is often found in mountainous areas. The layout of the town has remained virtually unchanged and the architectural style has been fully retained. There are 45 unaltered buildings in the ensemble, retaining many early constructional features. It is the best preserved and most comprehensive set of traditional vernacular buildings in the Slovak Republic. It has preserved its ancient appearance with remarkable fidelity: although it is now in its 19th-century guise, Vlkolinec is essentially the same as it has been for a much longer period.
There was an early Slav settlement on the site from the Burgwall (walled settlement) period (10th-12th centuries AD). The first documentary record dates from 1376, and in a document of 1469 reference is made to five named streets. In 1675 there were only four homesteads and five residences of servants of the nearby Likava manor, of which Vlkolinec always seems to have been a fief. A decree of 1630 suggests that the name derives from the important charge laid upon the villagers to maintain the wolf-pits in good order. The present settlement consists almost entirely of buildings from the 19th century.
The characteristic houses of Vlkolinec are situated on the street frontages of narrow holdings, with stables, smaller outbuildings, and barns ranged behind them. The main street, which is on a comparatively steep slope, forks in the centre of the village. Parts of the northern end of the village were destroyed by fire in the Second World War and have not been rebuilt. A canalized stream flows through the village. The houses are of the traditional central Slovak timber-built (Blockbau) type. This consists of log walls on stone footings, the walls being coated with clay and whitewashed or painted blue. Over 50% of them have three rooms; some are smaller and others double. The roofs are pitched and semi-hipped, and were originally covered with wooden shingles. They are entered from elongated yards shared with several other houses.
There are 47 traditional farmhouses of this type and a shop and schoolhouse from the end of the 19th century. The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary dates from 1875, but the belfry was built in 1770.
One especially interesting feature of the settlement is the fact that the parcels of land that surround it retain the elongated strip shape characteristic of medieval land allotment over most of feudal Europe. Outside these lie the areas of common land and forest which are also essential elements of the feudal landscape (although these have been substantially altered in later centuries through forestry and pasturage).
Vlkolínec has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993.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.