The East Bohemian town of Litomyšl emerged in the 13th century on the site of an older fortified settlement on the Trstenice path - an important trading route linking Bohemia and Moravia.
The dominant feature of Litomysl is the monumental Renaissance castle dating from the years 1568 - 1581. The buildings of the castle precincts are not only exceptional for their architectural refinement, but have also inscribed themselves in history as the birthplace of the Czech national composer, Bedrich Smetana. On the elongated square, which is one of the largest in the Czech Republic, stands a town hall of Gothic origin and a series of Renaissance and baroque houses, many with arcades and vaulted groundfloor rooms. One of the most important of these is the House At the Knights with its remarkable facade. In the past the town was also a significant religious centre; it was in Litomysl in 1344 that the second bishopric to be established in Bohemia was founded.
The cultural traditions of the town go much beyond regional and national frontiers. The exquisite interiors of the castle, especially the baroque castle theatre, the amphitheatre in the castle park and Smetanas house, all offer varied programmes of concerts and theatrical performances and thus emrich the life of the town throughout the year. The chateau complex was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.