Selmun Palace was built by the Monte di Redenzione degli Schiavi, a charity that was founded during the reign of Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt in 1607 to finance the redemption of Christians enslaved by Ottomans or Barbary corsairs. The land on which the palace was built was originally a coastal lookout post, and was donated to the Monte di Redenzione by Caterina Vitale in 1619. The palace used to be rented out to knights of the Order of Saint John as a place to relax and hunt wild rabbits, which were commonly found in the area. The rent money contributed to the redemption fund.
The palace itself was built the sometime in the 18th century, although the exact date of construction is not known. The earliest record of the structure is on a 1783 map, when it was referred to as Torre Nuova (new tower). The palace's architect is unknown, but it is sometimes attributed to Domenico Cachia.
Selmun Palace is an example of Baroque architecture. It has a square plan with four pseudo-bastions on each side, the design of which was inspired by the Verdala Palace and the Wignacourt towers. These bastions as well as fake embrasures were mainly built for aesthetic purposes, and the structure was never intended for military use. Despite this, it served as a deterrent for corsairs looking for a potential landing spot, since it looked like a military outpost when viewed from the sea. The main facade has three doors, with the main one being surrounded by a decorative portal. An ornate window on the upper floor and a bell-cot on the roof surmount the main door. A balcony surrounds the perimeter of the entire building.
A chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Ransom was located within the palace. In the 1980s, a new chapel with the same dedication was built outside the palace.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.