Pandurica is an ancient castle in Montenegro to the south of Nikšić town. It is situated in a hilly area of the same name on the bank of the river Zeta. It is a cultural monument of national significance.
The castle was originally built in 1367 by Stracimir Balšić, the Lord of Zeta principality. The area of Pandurica belonged then to Upper Zeta region of the principality, and in 1362 it was included in Balšić family possession. The Pandurica castle, which was named after the area, began to be used to control mountain trail and Zeta river ford.
In 1473 Upper Zeta was granted by ruler Ivan Crnojević to his duke called Bodgan, who was the founder and leader of Pješivci tribe. The southern rim of Nikšić valley along Zeta served as border between land of tribe's Nikcevici family and Ottoman Empire, which occupied land around Nikšić (then-called Onogošt). Trade route was established between the lands, and Pandurica castle was then used to control this route. Turks were attacking the castle regularly, but it was re-built each time. There are suggestions that the area near castle was actively re-constructed between 1500 and 1600. In the 16th century the Ostrog Monastery was founded in south-eastern mountains along the trail; so Pandurica castle begun to serve as a security cordon for the monastery.
In 1877 Niksic town was liberated from Turks by the forces of Prince Nikola Petrović-Njegoš (later the King). In 1878 Old Herzegovina was adjoined to Montenegro by demand of Russia. To connect new territories to mainland Montenegro and its capital Podgorica, it was decided to build a new road and construct a bridge over Zeta in about 1 km near Pandurica castle. The river was very wide there, so the bridge turned to be very lengthy. Prince Nikola asked Russian Emperor Alexander III for help: he agreed and assigned resources to build the road, that went near the castle, and to construct the massive 18-span monumental bridge, the Carev Most, now considered one of Montenegro's main landmarks.
As of 2014, the castle and adjacent territories still belonged to Nikcevici family of Pješivci tribe. Nowadays archaeological and restoration works are underway in the castle.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.