The Italian Court is a palace in Kutná Hora. Originally, it was the seat of the Central Mint of Prague, named after the Italian experts who were at the forefront of the minting reform. After its reconstruction at the end of the 14th century, the Italian Court became a part-time royal residence.
For many centuries, the Italian Court was the centre of the state economic power: it contained the royal mint and was the residence of the king during his visits to Kutná Hora silver mines. The history of building reaches back to the late 13th century, when it served the function of a town castle: a safe storehouse of the silver ore and an important part of the town fortifications. It was separated from the town itself by moats, which survive in the lower section as cellars; the water in the moat also protected the castle from fires.
Following the reform of the mints by King Wenceslas II, all of the previously functioning coinage-works were situated in the Italian Court and coins of a unified value “the Prague groschen” began to be struck. During the 14th century the castle was completely rebuilt; although the greatest flourishing of the building activity came at the end of the century, under the reign of Wenceslas IV. The reconstruction was done by the workshop of Petr Parléř, which was then completing the church of St. James and starting his work on St Barbara's Church.
The royal mint and the office of the supreme master minter came to an end in the 18th century after the great fire of 1770; the town hall was relocated into the Italian Court.
Currently, the building serves as a museum of coin minting; the most interesting interiors, such as the royal chapel and hall of audience are open to the public.
Inside the authentic cellars here is the museum “Unveiling of the mysterious face of Kutná Hora.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.
The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.
The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.
Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.
At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.
In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.