The Citadel (Fellegvár) and the Lower Castle The Visegrád double castle system is one of the castles built by Béla IV recognizing the consequences of the Mongol invasion. The fortress preserved its significance until the Turkish invasions.
The Citadel had a multifunctional role: it was protecting the valley of the Danube, it was controlling the main commerical route between Buda and Esztergom, and also served as a custom’s house. The fortress consisted of two parts.
The construction of the Lower Castle started under the reign of Béla IV around 1247. It was unique, as the fortress was not located next to the road differing from the common traditions, but the road was crossing the territory of the castle. The most interesting part of the Lower Castle is the so called Solomon Tower. The Tower was named after a false story, stating that Solomon was guarded in this Tower after loosing in the battle for the throne against King Saint Laszlo and Geza.
This unique Hungarian building was constructed based on a southern-German design. Under the reign of Louis the Great King of Hungary, the famous bell-founder Konrád Gaal was operating in the fortress. Today the Tower is hosting a five-storey museum, introducing the history of Visegrád to its visitors.
In 1246 Béla IV started the construction of the Citadel on an area with outstanding geographical characteristics, by the using the money from the family jewels of his wife, Mária Lascaris to build a refugee for the Dominican Order nuns living on the ’Rabbits Island’ (today’s Margaret Island). At that time the plan of the fortress was triangle-shaped, with two towers.
The Old Tower was erected at a location most at risk, and the Gate Tower protected the southern entrance. The significance of the fortress considerably improved during the Anjou era. Once Charles Robert obtained the fortress from Máté Csák, he moved the royal court here in 1323.
The Visegrád Citadel hosted the famous Royal Summit of Kings, and the first Anjou King died in the castle in 1370. The Saint Crown of Hungary was guarded here. When Louis the Great became the King of Poland in 1370, the Polish crown was also stored in the castle. The palace wings and a new external wall was erected during the Anjou reign. Sigismund of Luxemburg extended the fortification with a third set of walls and carried out several lavish constructions.
Following the Turkish reign, after the liberation of Buda in 1686 the Habsburgs conquered the fortress after a 5-day siege. Due to the dissolution of the border castle system the fortification became unwanted and was left to ruin.References:
The Kalozha church of Saints Boris and Gleb is the oldest extant structure in Hrodna. It is the only surviving monument of ancient Black Ruthenian architecture, distinguished from other Orthodox churches by prolific use of polychrome faceted stones of blue, green or red tint which could be arranged to form crosses or other figures on the wall.
The church is a cross-domed building supported by six circular pillars. The outside is articulated with projecting pilasters, which have rounded corners, as does the building itself. The ante-nave contains the choir loft, accessed by a narrow gradatory in the western wall. Two other stairs were discovered in the walls of the side apses; their purpose is not clear. The floor is lined with ceramic tiles forming decorative patterns. The interior was lined with innumerable built-in pitchers, which usually serve in Eastern Orthodox churches as resonators but in this case were scored to produce decorative effects. For this reason, the central nave has never been painted.
The church was built before 1183 and survived intact, depicted in the 1840s by Michał Kulesza, until 1853, when the south wall collapsed, due to its perilous location on the high bank of the Neman. During restoration works, some fragments of 12th-century frescoes were discovered in the apses. Remains of four other churches in the same style, decorated with pitchers and coloured stones instead of frescoes, were discovered in Hrodna and Vaŭkavysk. They all date back to the turn of the 13th century, as do remains of the first stone palace in the Old Hrodna Castle.
In 2004, the church was included in the Tentative List of UNESCO"s World Heritage Sites.