Belœil château has been the residence of the Prince de Ligne since the 14th century. The château lies in the middle of a magnificent Baroque garden designed in 1664. The château and gardens can be visited during spring and summer.
Belœil became possession of the Ligne family in 1394. At the beginning of the 15th century the local castle was chosen as the principal residence of the family. The old castle was a fortified rectangular building with a moat surrounding it and had four round towers, one at each angle. This basic structure is still preserved, although the facades and interiors were greatly altered during the following centuries.
From 1664 onward the park, with its straight alleys, geometrical ponds and imposing perspectives was created. The typical bosquets - garden chambers enclosed by high hedges - were preserved in spite of the changing fashion in the 18th and 19th centuries when English landscape gardens were preferred. A small landscape garden with a 'ruin' was installed in the direct vicinity of the château by Charles Joseph, Prince de Ligne.
The fortified castle was adapted into a luxurious country house following the French example. The interiors were appointed with fine furniture and the art collections of the family. During the New Year's celebrations of 1900, disaster struck the castle when it burned down completely. Most of the furnishings, including the library of 20,000 rare volumes and the art collection, were saved. The castle was rebuilt in the following years by the French architect Ernest Sanson, while the interiors were redecorated using pieces from the Ligne collection.References:
Czocha Castle is located on the Lake Leśnia, what is now the Polish part of Upper Lusatia. Czocha castle was built on gneiss rock, and its oldest part is the keep, to which housing structures were later added.
Czocha Castle began as a stronghold, on the Czech-Lusatian border. Its construction was ordered by Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, in the middle of the 13th century (1241–1247). In 1253 castle was handed over to Konrad von Wallhausen, Bishop of Meissen. In 1319 the complex became part of the dukedom of Henry I of Jawor, and after his death, it was taken over by another Silesian prince, Bolko II the Small, and his wife Agnieszka. Origin of the stone castle dates back to 1329.
In the mid-14th century, Czocha Castle was annexed by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. Then, between 1389 and 1453, it belonged to the noble families of von Dohn and von Kluks. Reinforced, the complex was besieged by the Hussites in the early 15th century, who captured it in 1427, and remained in the castle for unknown time (see Hussite Wars). In 1453, the castle was purchased by the family of von Nostitz, who owned it for 250 years, making several changes through remodelling projects in 1525 and 1611. Czocha's walls were strengthened and reinforced, which thwarted a Swedish siege of the complex during the Thirty Years War. In 1703, the castle was purchased by Jan Hartwig von Uechtritz, influential courtier of Augustus II the Strong. On August 17, 1793, the whole complex burned in a fire.
In 1909, Czocha was bought by a cigar manufacturer from Dresden, Ernst Gutschow, who ordered major remodelling, carried out by Berlin architect Bodo Ebhardt, based on a 1703 painting of the castle. Gutschow, who was close to the Russian Imperial Court and hosted several White emigres in Czocha, lived in the castle until March 1945. Upon leaving, he packed up the most valuable possessions and moved them out.
After World War II, the castle was ransacked several times, both by soldiers of the Red Army, and Polish thieves, who came to the so-called Recovered Territories from central and eastern part of the country. Pieces of furniture and other goods were stolen, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the castle was home to refugees from Greece. In 1952, Czocha was taken over by the Polish Army. Used as a military vacation resort, it was erased from official maps. The castle has been open to the public since September 1996 as a hotel and conference centre. The complex was featured in several movies and television series. Recently, the castle has been used as the setting of the College of Wizardry, a live action role-playing game (LARP) that takes place in their own universe and can be compared to Harry Potter.