St. Florian's Cathedral with its 75-meter towers dominates eastern Warsaw's Praga district and highlight the cathedral’s role as a form of protest against the erstwhile Russian domination of Poland.
There has been a Catholic church presence in or around the site of the future church since 1583, but the impetus for creating a lasting and substantial church did not arrive until the late 19th century. The map of Europe was redrawn during the Congress of Vienna and the resulting territorial maneuvers placed the Duchy of Warsaw under the control of the Russian Empire, transforming it into the Congress Poland. Among other intrusions, over twenty Russian Orthodox churches were built in Poland. To protest against the perceived imposition of a foreign church, and in direct reaction to the monumental Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene built down the street, St Florian’s was built with two commanding 75-meter towers between 1897-1904. The church is named after St. Florian, the patron saint of professions associated with fire, such as firefighters, steelworkers, chimney sweeps, potters and bakers.
During and after the Siege of Warsaw, churches were used as a hiding place for Jews, the Warsaw Army and as a general refuge for civilians. St. Florian's was destroyed by the Germans as they withdrew from Poland in 1944 after the Warsaw Uprising. The church remained in ruins for several years, but by the 1950s a reconstruction effort slowly began with support from Praga residents. The rebuilt church was reopened in 1972.
St Florian's is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Warszawa-Praga and by order of the Holy See was raised to the rank of minor basilica in 1992. Over four hundred priests form the ministry in this diocese covering 1,274 square miles, divided into 160 parishes and serving approximately one million Polish Catholics.
St Florian's is built in a Gothic Revival style distinguished by two twenty-story towers facing Al. Solidarności, capped with bronze spires. Most of its exterior is made of red brick. Over the entrances are mosaic depictions of Jesus Christ and the emblem of the first bishop of Warsaw-Praga, Kazimierz Romaniuk, while the interior is decorated in red or white plaster and brick.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.