The tsar’s residence in the Alexandrovskaya village (also known as the Alexandrovsky Kremlin) is an old Russian fortress which served as the actual capital of the oprichnina (the period of Russian history between 1565 and 1572 during which Tsar Ivan the Terrible instituted a domestic policy of secret police, massrepressions, public executions, and confiscation of land from Russian aristocrats) in the Moscow state from 1564 until 1581. Alexandrovskaya village dates back to the middle of the 14th century. Grand Duke Vasily III had a country palace built there and used to bring his family and the entire court to it. The palace did not survive.
The Pokrovsky cathedral was sanctified in 1513 and later it was blessed anew as the Trinity Cathedral. Its appearance has changed somewhat since the 16th century; some of the architectural details such as windows, e.g., belong to a later period. Originally, red brick and white stone were used in the outer decoration of the cathedral but brick parts were later painted over. Some of the interior fresco paintings date back to the 14th century as do the white stone carvings in the interior portals.
Ivan the Terrible moved to the Alexandrovskaya fortress in 1565. The residence was immediately fortified with a bulwark, wooden walls, and a moat. The village became the actual capital of the country. The oprichnina was founded there and the march on the Novgorod Republic started from the village.
As Novgorod was looted Ivan brought the famous gates of its St. Sophia Cathedral (1336) to the village and had them installed at the southern entrance of the Assumption (Trinity) cathedral. The gates combine religious and fantastic subjects; there is, for instance, the image of a centaur. The gates were made with the use of the old technique in which the door was first carved and then rubbed with a mixture of liquid gold and mercury.
The western entrance was embellished with the old (1344-1358) doors that Ivan had removed from the Transfiguration (Spaso-Preobrazhensky) church in Tver. An etched picture of the Holy Trinity is still preserved on one of the doors.
The Assumption nunnery was opened on its territory in the second half of the 17th century. During Soviet times the fortress and the former nunnery were used as a museum. At present, the territory of the Kremlin is shared by a museum and the revived nunnery.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.