The Castle of the Masovian Dukes in Płock is a Gothic castle built under the reign of Casimir III the Great, becoming a stronghold of the Dukes of Masovia until the fifteenth century. The castle is located on a steep Vistulan hillside, most likely since the eleventh century, a wooden fortress - defended by walls and dikes, where in the middle there was a small stone built stronghold. On the turning point of the eleventh and twelfth century, when one of the largest Masovian strongholds where already located on the hillside - a chapel and wall-defended living quarters were built in 1194.
At the end of the thirteenth century, the raising of the castle had begun, when the stronghold was fortified, and took on its current form under the reign of Casimir III the Great. The expansion of the castle was done on the hillside of the former stronghold, which was reconstructed with bricks and expanded, the stronghold was also raised with two towers. The castle was built in square-shaped complex. In the south-west of the complex, the Szlachecka Tower was raised - with a squared base and lower half; and an octagonal upper half. In the northern part of the castle, by a Romanesque building, there is a clock tower. The castle's courtyard is closed off by the north-western, eastern and southern wing. The castle is fortificated by a double encirclement of defensive walls - securing the stronghold and Płock, being just outside the castle's walls.
The castle was a residence of the Masovian Dukes up until the fifteenth century. Due to a partial removal of the hillside, in 1532, the castle suffered damage, which was rebuilt. In 1538, the Masovian dukes had resided in the newly built palace, outside the castle walls, allowing the castle complex to be given to the Benedictines. During the times of the wars against the Swedes, the castle was severely damaged, first in 1657, and then in 1705. After the castle's reconstruction, the castle complex became a Baroque architectural style Benedictine Abbey, which existed until 1781. When after the Partitions of Poland, Prussia took over the castle, the authorities ordered some of the defensive walls to be deconstructed. From 1865, the castle hosted spiritual seminars.
After World War II, the castle was renovated, and since 1973, the castle houses a museum.References:
The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.
The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.
Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.
Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.
The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.
During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.
In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.