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:
Olargues is a good example of a French medieval town and rated as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It was occupied by the Romans, the Vandals and the Visigoths. At the end of the 11th century the Jaur valley came under the authority of the Château of the Viscount of Minerve. The following centuries saw a succession of wars and epidemics, and it was not until the 18th century that Olargues became re-established. This was due to the prosperity of local agriculture and artisanal industry.
The Pont du Diable, 'Devil's Bridge', is said to date back to 1202 and is reputed to be the scene of transactions between the people of Olargues and the devil. The old village is clustered around the belltower, which was formerly the main tower of the castle (Romanesque construction). The old shops have marble frontages and overhanging upper storeys. A museum of popular traditions and art is to be found in the stairs of the Commanderie.