Branik Castle, also known as Rihemberk Castle, is a 13th-century castle above the village of Branik. Fortified settlements have been present on the hill since prehistoric times; the site was once occupied by a Roman castrum. The date of the founding of the castle is unclear, but the noble house of Rihemberk is first recorded in 1230, originating from Riffenstein in Tyrol (now the castle of Reifenstein in Freienfeld, northern Italy). The family received substantial properties in fief from the Counts of Gorizia, including estates in the Vipava Valley, the Kras plateau, in the outskirts of the town of Gorizia and elsewhere. The Rihemberg male line died out in 1371.
In the 14th and 15th centuries the lordship contracted to the immediate surroundings of Rihemberk, a small part of the Vipava Valley, and the Kras Plateau. After the Counts of Gorizia died out in 1500, the castle passed to the Habsburgs. In 1528 both it and the surrounding lands were acquired by the noble house of Lanthieri, who added a residential palacio in 1649.
The Lanthieris retained the castle for a full 417 years, until World War II. On the night of 22–23 July 1944, partisans resistance fighters assaulted the castle, blew it up and set it on fire, so as to deny its use as an outpost to the German Army. All furnishings were destroyed. In 1945, the castle was nationalized. Since the 1980s, it has since been gradually restored, though all prewar structures have not yet been fully rebuilt.
The Romanesque foundations of the castle are still evident in some places. The castle complex is centered on a prominent 13th-century round keep, around which a substantial baroque residential tract was later developed, all surrounded with renaissance defensive walls and 16th century corner turrets. The older structures contain some Gothic elements, notably the castle chapel.
The building took its current shape in the 17th/18th centuries, when it was turned into a baroque residence. Significant remodeling was carried out in the 19th century as well, notably the romantic crenellations of the walls.
A walled garden - partially preserved - once occupied the south slope below the castle. The design of the entrance gate suggests the garden belongs to the baroque period of the castle.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.