The dominating feature of the Benešov nad Ploučnicí town is actually two castles from the 13th century, the Lower and Upper castles. There is a permanent exhibition of Chinese art and day and night tours are available as well as social meetings.
The history of the castle started in the 13th century when a settlement of tradesmen and shopkeepers began under the castle Ostrý. The people were satisfied there, the settlement grew and one day in 1392 Jan from Michalovice named the settlement a town. The son of the owner, Hynek Berka from Dubá, was a hussite antagonist and in 1422 he called together a congress of the antihussite catholic nobility from Northern Bohemia. The Hussites didn´t hesitate to besiege Benešov many times over the next few years.
Since, the town was protected only by a simple wall, a moat and a mound, it was rapidly plundered and burnt out. Then in 1515 the Salhausen family from Míšeň bought the castle. That was the beginning of the rise of the town. The castle was rebuilt and sold many times. In 1945 it became a possession of the state and then in 1956 it was declared a castle of the 1st category. Unfortunately, the castle was destroyed by fire in 1969. It took a couple of years before it was reopened to the public.References:
The Church of Our Lady before Týn is a dominant feature of the Old Town of Prague and has been the main church of this part of the city since the 14th century. The church's towers are 80 m high and topped by four small spires.
In the 11th century, this area was occupied by a Romanesque church, which was built there for foreign merchants coming to the nearby Týn Courtyard. Later it was replaced by an early Gothic Church of Our Lady before Týn in 1256. Construction of the present church began in the 14th century in the late Gothic style under the influence of Matthias of Arras and later Peter Parler. By the beginning of the 15th century, construction was almost complete; only the towers, the gable and roof were missing. The church was controlled by Hussites for two centuries, including John of Rokycan, future archbishop of Prague, who became the church's vicar in 1427. The roof was completed in the 1450s, while the gable and northern tower were completed shortly thereafter during the reign of George of Poděbrady (1453–1471). His sculpture was placed on the gable, below a huge golden chalice, the symbol of the Hussites. The southern tower was not completed until 1511, under architect Matěj Rejsek.
After the lost Battle of White Mountain (1620) began the era of harsh recatholicisation (part of the Counter-Reformation). Consequently, the sculptures of 'heretic king' George of Poděbrady and the chalice were removed in 1626 and replaced by a sculpture of the Virgin Mary, with a giant halo made from by melting down the chalice. In 1679 the church was struck by lightning, and the subsequent fire heavily damaged the old vault, which was later replaced by a lower baroque vault.
Renovation works carried out in 1876–1895 were later reversed during extensive exterior renovation works in the years 1973–1995. Interior renovation is still in progress.
The northern portal is a wonderful example of Gothic sculpture from the Parler workshop, with a relief depicting the Crucifixion. The main entrance is located on the church's western face, through a narrow passage between the houses in front of the church.
The early baroque altarpiece has paintings by Karel Škréta from around 1649. The oldest pipe organ in Prague stands inside this church. The organ was built in 1673 by Heinrich Mundt and is one of the most representative 17th-century organs in Europe.