For over seven centuries, Špilberk Castle has dominated the skyline of Brno. From a major royal castle and the seat of the Moravian margraves, it gradually turned into a huge baroque fortress, the heaviest prison in the Austro-Hungarian empire, and then a barracks. Today, Špilberk houses the Brno City Museum.
The castle was established in the mid-13th century by Czech King Přemysl Otakar II as a seat for rulers of Moravia. The oldest written records of the existence of the castle date from 1277-1279. Špilberk became a seat of the Moravian margraves in the mid-14th century. After the end of the 15th century, the importance of Špilberk fell into rapid eclipse, to be replaced with general decline and steady dilapidation.
In 1620, after losing The Battle of White Mountain, the leading Moravian members of the anti-Habsburg insurrection were imprisoned in Špilberk for several years. The town of Brno bought the castle in 1560 and made it into a municipal fortress. The bastion fortifications of Špilberk helped Brno to defend itself against Swedish raids during the Thirty Years' War, and then successful defence led to further fortification and the strengthening of the military function of the fortress.
At the same time Špilberk was used as a prison. Protestants were the first prisoners forced to serve time here, followed later by participants in the revolutions of 1848–49, although hardened criminals, thieves and petty criminals were also kept here. Later, apart from several significant French revolutionaries captured during the coalition wars with France.
The last large group of political prisoners at Špilberk consisted of nearly 200 Polish revolutionaries, mostly participants in the Kraków Uprising of 1846. After that, the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph dissolved the Špilberk prison in 1855, and after departure of the last prisoners three years later, its premises were converted into barracks which remained as such for the next hundred years.
Špilberk entered public consciousness as a centre of tribulation and oppression on two more occasions; firstly, during the First World War when, together with military prisoners, civilian objectors to the Austro-Hungarian regime were imprisoned here, and secondly in the first year of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Several thousand Czech patriots suffered in Špilberk at that time, some of whom were put to death. For the majority of them however, Špilberk was only a station on their way to other German prisons and Nazi concentration camps. In 1939–41, the German army and Gestapo carried out an extensive reconstruction at Špilberk in order to turn it into model barracks in the spirit of the so beloved romantic historicism of the German Third Reich ideology.
The Czechoslovak army left Špilberk in 1959, putting to a definite end its military era. The following year, Špilberk became the seat of the Brno City Museum.References:
Manarola is a small town, a frazione of the comune of Riomaggiore. It is the second-smallest of the famous Cinque Terre towns frequented by tourists, with a population of 353.
Manarola may be the oldest of the towns in the Cinque Terre, with the cornerstone of the church, San Lorenzo, dating from 1338. The local dialect is Manarolese, which is marginally different from the dialects in the nearby area. The name 'Manarola' is probably a dialectical evolution of the Latin, 'magna rota'. In the Manarolese dialect this was changed to 'magna roea' which means 'large wheel', in reference to the mill wheel in the town.
Manarola's primary industries have traditionally been fishing and wine-making. The local wine, called Sciacchetrà, is especially renowned; references from Roman writings mention the high quality of the wine produced in the region.