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 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.