Bytča Castle was originally built as a water castle by Pongrác Szentmiklósi in the 13th century and rebuilt between 1571 and 1574 in Renaissance style by Ferenc Thurzó. The Italian architect Ján Kilian of Milan was invited to oversee the construction. George Thurzo continued his father’s activities and due to him the Wedding Palace was built in 1601, which was meant to serve for the weddings of his six daughters. From more decorative details it can be concluded that the palace is the work of Italian masters who lived in Bytča. The building is embellished by rich sgraffito figural and floral ornaments around the stone windows and portal. Inside the one-story, rectangular building is a particularly interesting foyer on the ground floor and a large Wedding hall on the first floor, which was for a longtime the largest of its kind in Slovakia.
There were two pharmacies, a school, a typing office, a library and an assembly room in the castle. In the eastern part of the castle there was the so-called big hall, intended for assemblies during the reign of George Thurzo. In the northern part there was a castle treasury, which was later turned into a chapel by the Esterházy family. After the Thurzo family had died out at the beginning of the 17th century, the castle was acquired by the Esterházy family, who converted it into a farm building. In 1862, the property was bought by the Popper family of merchants, who transformed the castle into flats and the Wedding Palace into a district court. Ján Ujváry, also called Ficko, Elizabeth Báthory’s helper was also imprisoned in Bytča castle. At the beginning of the 18th century, the legendary Slovak outlaw Juraj Jánošík served as a prison officer in the castle. He helped the imprisoned Tomáš Uhorčík escape and they created a forest robber group. This is why this national heroes’s legend might have started in Bytča. Today the castle houses the State District Archive, the Wedding Palace belongs to Považské Museum in Žilina. Today the Wedding Palace is after the reconstruction and is open.References:
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.
Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.
In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.
The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.
In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.
After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.
In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.
Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.
In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.
In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.