Hohentwiel fortress, whose ruins lie on top of extinct volcano Hohentwiel, was constructed in 914 using stone taken from the mountain itself by Burchard III, Duke of Swabia. Originally, the Monastery of St. Georg was contained within the fortress, but in 1005 it was moved to Stein am Rhein (now in Switzerland), and the Swabian dukes lost control of Hohentwiel. In the later Middle Ages the noble families von Singen-Twiel (12th–13th centuries), von Klingen (to 1300) and von Klingenberg (to 1521) resided here. In 1521, it was passed on to Duke Ulrich von Württemberg, who developed Hohentwiel into one of the strongest fortresses of his duchy. During this time, it began to be used as a prison and in 1526, Hans Müller von Bulgenbach, a peasant commander, was imprisoned there prior to his execution.
The fortress resisted five Imperial sieges in the Thirty Years' War, under the command of Konrad Widerholt between 1634 and 1648. The effect was that Württemberg remainded protestant, while most of the surrounding areas returned to catholicism in the Counterreformation. The castle served as a Württemberg prison in the 18th century and was destroyed in 1800 after being peacefully handed over by the French.
Today the former fortress Hohentwiel is one of the biggest castle ruins of Germany. Hohentwiel’s imposing ramparts and casemates, its fallen towers and defiant ruins, still evoke the military might of this once-invincible fortress. The surrounding volcanic crags are a now a nature reserve, offering a unique habitat to many rare species of flora and fauna. Today, more than 80,000 visitors a year come to admire this special place. The modern city of Singen nestles at the foot of the mountain.References:
The Cloth Hall in Kraków dates to the Renaissance and is one of the city's most recognizable icons. It is the central feature of the main market square in the Kraków Old Town (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978).
The hall was once a major centre of international trade. Traveling merchants met there to discuss business and to barter. During its golden age in the 15th century, the hall was the source of a variety of exotic imports from the east – spices, silk, leather and wax – while Kraków itself exported textiles, lead, and salt from the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
Kraków was Poland's capital city and was among the largest cities in Europe already from before the time of the Renaissance. However, its decline started with the move of the capital to Warsaw in the very end of the 16th century. The city's decline was hastened by wars and politics leading to the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century. By the time of the architectural restoration proposed for the cloth hall in 1870 under Austrian rule, much of the historic city center was decrepit. A change in political and economic fortunes for the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria ushered in a revival due to newly established Legislative Assembly or Sejm of the Land. The successful renovation of the Cloth Hall, based on design by Tomasz Pryliński and supervised by Mayor Mikołaj Zyblikiewicz, Sejm Marshal, was one of the most notable achievements of this period.
The hall has hosted many distinguished guests over the centuries and is still used to entertain monarchs and dignitaries, such as Charles, Prince of Wales and Emperor Akihito of Japan, who was welcomed here in 2002. In the past, balls were held here, most notably after Prince Józef Poniatowski had briefly liberated the city from the Austrians in 1809. Aside from its history and cultural value, the hall still is still used as a center of commerce.
On the upper floor of the hall is the Sukiennice Museum division of the National Museum, Kraków. It holds the largest permanent exhibit of the 19th-century Polish painting and sculpture, in four grand exhibition halls arranged by historical period and the theme extending into an entire artistic epoch. The museum was upgraded in 2010 with new technical equipment, storerooms, service spaces as well as improved thematic layout for the display.
The Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art was a major cultural venue from the moment it opened on October 7, 1879. It features late Baroque, Rococo, and Classicist 18th-century portraits and battle scenes by Polish and foreign pre-Romantics.