Prösels Castle (Castello di Presule) was first named in a document from 1279 and it is believed that the lords of Völs, feudatories of the Bishopric of Brixen, had built the castle here by 1200. Today the central palace with a Romanesque archway are surviving parts of this first fortress.
In Italian it is sometimes called Castel Colonna, reflecting the fact that around the time of Leonhard II the Völs (Fiè) family started to add the Colonna family name to their own.
The Gothic castle of today was built by Leonhard of Völs (born 1458). He was the administrator of the salt mines of Hall in Tirol, a highly profitable position, furthermore he was married three times to wealthy noblewomen, which enabled him to spend extravagantly on the expansion of his castle. In 1498 Leonhard, thanks to his friendship with the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and Archduke of Austria, became governor of the County of Tyrol. Leonhard showed his gratitude by including the emperor on one of the frescoes in the newly built arcade of his castle.
During the Peasants' War of 1525 the castle was briefly occupied by the revolting subservient farmers, who burnt all the documents in the vain hope of destroying all proof of their debts and tithes. The uprising was squashed and six leaders executed. Leonhard of Völs also instigated the burning of nine local woman for witchcraft.
The castle remained in the hands of the family until its last member, Felix, Freiherr von Völs, died childless in 1810. For the next 50 years the castle stood empty and nearly fell into ruins. Between 1860 and 1978 the castle changed hands no fewer than 14 times, suffering periods of decay followed by attempted restoration before finally being abandoned to its fate. However, in 1981 the Kuratorium Schloss Prösels (Prösels Castle Curatorship) was formed to restore the building; the work was completed the following year.
Guided visits are available during the summer months and during the Christmas holidays, various cultural events are held here including concerts, exhibitions and theatrical performances. Permanent displays include for example a collection of weapons and suits of armour.References:
The Cloth Hall in Kraków dates to the Renaissance and is one of the city's most recognizable icons. It is the central feature of the main market square in the Kraków Old Town (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978).
The hall was once a major centre of international trade. Traveling merchants met there to discuss business and to barter. During its golden age in the 15th century, the hall was the source of a variety of exotic imports from the east – spices, silk, leather and wax – while Kraków itself exported textiles, lead, and salt from the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
Kraków was Poland's capital city and was among the largest cities in Europe already from before the time of the Renaissance. However, its decline started with the move of the capital to Warsaw in the very end of the 16th century. The city's decline was hastened by wars and politics leading to the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century. By the time of the architectural restoration proposed for the cloth hall in 1870 under Austrian rule, much of the historic city center was decrepit. A change in political and economic fortunes for the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria ushered in a revival due to newly established Legislative Assembly or Sejm of the Land. The successful renovation of the Cloth Hall, based on design by Tomasz Pryliński and supervised by Mayor Mikołaj Zyblikiewicz, Sejm Marshal, was one of the most notable achievements of this period.
The hall has hosted many distinguished guests over the centuries and is still used to entertain monarchs and dignitaries, such as Charles, Prince of Wales and Emperor Akihito of Japan, who was welcomed here in 2002. In the past, balls were held here, most notably after Prince Józef Poniatowski had briefly liberated the city from the Austrians in 1809. Aside from its history and cultural value, the hall still is still used as a center of commerce.
On the upper floor of the hall is the Sukiennice Museum division of the National Museum, Kraków. It holds the largest permanent exhibit of the 19th-century Polish painting and sculpture, in four grand exhibition halls arranged by historical period and the theme extending into an entire artistic epoch. The museum was upgraded in 2010 with new technical equipment, storerooms, service spaces as well as improved thematic layout for the display.
The Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art was a major cultural venue from the moment it opened on October 7, 1879. It features late Baroque, Rococo, and Classicist 18th-century portraits and battle scenes by Polish and foreign pre-Romantics.