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:
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.