Pieskowa Skała castle, built by King Casimir III the Great, is one of the best-known examples of a defensive Polish Renaissance architecture. It was erected in the first half of the 14th century as part of the chain of fortified castles called Orle Gniazda (Eagles Nests).
The castle was renovated and donated in 1377 by king Louis I of Hungary to Piotr Szafraniec of Łuczyce, according to a more modern interpretation by the 15th century chronicler Jan Długosz, but the family gained the full ownership rights of the castle only in 1422 from King Władysław II Jagiełło in recognition of the faithful service at the Battle of Grunwald by Piotr Szafraniec, the chamberlain of Kraków.
The castle was rebuilt in 1542–1544 by Niccolò Castiglione with participation from Gabriel Słoński of Kraków. The sponsor of the castle's reconstruction in the mannerist style was the Calvinist, Stanisław Szafraniec, voivode of Sandomierz. At that time the original medieval tower was transformed into a scenic double loggia decorated in the sgraffito technique. Between 1557 and 1578, the trapezoid shape courtyard was surrounded at the level of two upper storeys by arcades, embellished with 21 mascarons. The arcade risalit above the gate is a 17th-century addition.
The last owner of the castle of Szafraniec family was Jędrzej, Stanisław's son, who died childless in 1608. After his death the estate was purchased by Maciej Łubnicki and later by the Zebrzydowski family. In 1640 Michał Zebrzydowski built the bastion fortifications with baroque gate and a chapel. The castle changed hands many times over the centuries. In 1903 it was bought by the Pieskowa Skała Society led by Adolf Dygasiński and with time turned over to the Polish state and meticulously restored.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.