Zvolen Castle is a medieval well-preserved castle located on a hill near the center of Zvolen. The original seat of the region was above the confluence of Slatina and Hron rivers on a steep cliff in a castle from the 12th century, known today as Pustý hrad (meaning 'Deserted castle'). Its difficult access had consequence in relocation of the seat to the new-built Zvolen castle, which was ordered by Louis I the Great as a hunting residence of Hungarian kings. The future queen regnant Mary of Hungary and emperor Sigismund celebrated their wedding there in 1385.
Gothic architecture of the castle built between 1360 and 1382 was inspired by Italian castles of the fourteenth century. Italian masons also contributed to a Renaissance reconstruction in 1548. The last major reconstruction occurred in 1784, when the chapel was rebuilt into the Baroque style.
Zvolen castle was built by Louis I of Hungary, which built it like a gothic hunting castle. In his form was finished in 1382, when it was a witness of an engagement of his daughter Mary and Sigismund. John Jiskra of Brandýs, who became one of the most powerful commander in Hungary and this castle was one of his manors from 1440 to 1462. The castle was also often visited by king Matthias Corvinus with his wife Beatrice, who used this castle as a manor from 1490.
About 1500 was built up external fortification with four round bastions and entrance gate. In half of 16th century was built up another floor with embrasures and corner oriel towers. About 1590 was built up artillery bastion also.
The castle was rebuilt many times, but it retains its Renaissance look. The castle was nominated as a National culture monument for his historic, art and architecture values and it was reconstructed in the 1960s. The Slovak National Gallery has a seat in this castle now, where it presents its expositions.
Zvolen Castle hosts a regional branch of the Slovak National Gallery with an exposition of old European masters, including works by P. P. Rubens, Paolo Veronese, and William Hogarth. There is also a popular tea room located in the castle.
Every year The Zvolen Castle Plays are introduced to huge amount of visitors. Here you can see actors and theatres from Slovakia, but also from another countries. The castle also offered a rental of his King hall, Column hall and Knightly hall, which is useful for organizing concerts, receptions, wedding ceremonies, etc. Now you can also see a computer model of this castle, which was made as an academic project.References:
Bergenhus fortress is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. It contains buildings dating as far back as the 1240s, as well as later constructions built as recently as World War II. The extent of the enclosed area of today dates from the early 19th century. In medieval times, the area of the present-day Bergenhus Fortress was known as Holmen (The islet), and contained the royal residence in Bergen, as well as a cathedral and several churches, the bishop's residence, and a Dominican monastery. Excavations have revealed foundations of buildings believed to date back to before 1100, which might have been erected by King Olav Kyrre. In the 13th century, until 1299, Bergen was the capital of Norway and Holmen was thus the main seat of Norway's rulers. It was first enclosed by stone walls in the 1240s.
Of the medieval buildings, a medieval hall and a defensive tower remain. The royal hall, today known as Haakon's Hall, built around 1260, is the largest medieval secular building in Norway. The defensive tower, known in the Middle Ages as the keep by the sea, was built around 1270 by King Magnus VI Lagabøte, and contained a royal apartment on the top floor. In the 1560s it was incorporated by the commander of the castle, Erik Rosenkrantz, into a larger structure, which is today known as the Rosenkrantz Tower.
In the Middle Ages, several churches, including the Christ Church, Bergen's cathedral, were situated on the premises. These however were torn down in the period 1526 to 1531, as the area of Holmen was converted into a purely military fortification under Danish rule. From around this time, the name Bergenhus came into use. Building work on the Christ Church probably started around 1100. It contained the shrine of saint Sunniva, the patron saint of Bergen and western Norway. In the 12th and 13th centuries it was the site of several royal coronations and weddings. It was also the burial site of at least six kings, as well as other members of the royal family. The site of its altar is today marked by a memorial stone.
In the 19th century, the fortress lost its function as a defensive fortification, but it was retained by the military as an administrative base. After restoration in the 1890s, and again after destruction sustained during World War II, Bergenhus is today again used as a feast hall for public events. During World War II, the German navy used several of its buildings for their headquarters, and they also constructed a large concrete bunker within the fortress walls. The buildings, including the Haakon's Hall, were severely damaged when a Dutch ship in the service of the German navy, carrying approximately 120 tons of dynamite, exploded on 20 April 1944 in the harbour just outside the fortress walls, but the buildings were later restored.
Bergenhus is currently under the command of the Royal Norwegian Navy, which has about 150 military personnel stationed there. The fortifications Sverresborg fortress and Fredriksberg fortress also lie in the centre of Bergen. Haakon's Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower are open for visits by the public. Koengen, the central part of Bergenhus Fortress is also known as a concert venue.