Due to its excellent strategic location, Socerb Castle was already an important stronghold in Illyrian times, while in the Middle Ages, it became a mighty and well-fortified castle controlling the Trieste hinterlands and the commercial routes between Carniola and the coast. The castle has an exceptionally rich and turbulent history that can be traced from the Early Middle Ages to 1780 when it was struck by lightning, rendering it uninhabitable. Its important strategic position made it a cause of fights between the Venetians, Trieste and the Habsburg Monarchy. It was owned by the Venetians from 1463 to 1511 when it was an important stronghold serving as defence against the Turks and Imperial Austria in the Austro-Venetian wars from the early 16th century.
In the early 17th century, during the Uskok War (1615-1617), the Castle was owned by Benvenuto Petazzi, a nobleman from Trieste. The Counts of Petazzi kept their sway over Socerb until 1688, when they returned it to the Archducal Chamber in Graz and moved to Žavlje. In the first half of the 18th century, the Socerb Seigniory came under the Marquises de Priè and was bought in 1768 by the Counts Montecuccoli from Modena who kept it even after releasing the peasants in 1848.
The results of a fire caused by lightning in 1780 caused the castle to slowly start deteriorating in the 19th century. The castle ruins and the nearby cave were described by Count Giroloamo Agapito in 1823 and painted by August Tischbein in 1842. The dilapidated castle was bought in 1907 by Demetrio Economo, a Trieste Baron, who refurbished it in 1923-1924 concentrating mainly on restoring the surrounding walls whilst other remains were removed.
During the national liberation war, the castle’s excellent strategic position made it important for both the partisans, who used it as the seat of the VOS (Security-Intelligence Service), and the people’s court, as well as for German units who occupied it in autumn of 1944, making it a fortified stronghold. The castle was refurbished after the war and today serves as a popular excursion destination with its natural and cultural sights offering food and services to tourists.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.