Točník Castle was built during the reign of Wenceslaus IV at the end of the 14th century above the already existing castle Žebrák as his private residence. The two castles, Točník and Žebrák, make up a pictoresque 'couple,' standing almost right next to each other.
The area where the castle stands was inhabited by people two thousand years ago, but it was not until the 14th century when the Bohemian and German king Wenceslaus IV decided to build his residence there. The castle Točník was built after the large fire in the castle Žebrák, which showed how unsafe it was for the king and how its position was not strategic.
The castle was built on a three-part ground plan. Behind the defensive wall is a massive moat with a bridge, which was originally protected by a gate tower. The most important building, situated in the residential section on the L-shaped ground plan, is the Royal Palace with its side wing. The second floor of the palace was taken up with a ceremonial hall, while other floors were residential.
During the Hussite wars, when Václav's brother Sigismund was in power, the castle was besieged by the Hussite army for three days, until it gave up and burnt down the towns Točník and Hořovice instead. The castle was then mortgaged and handed over from one person to another, but it never found an owner that would keep it for a longer time and so it was gradually reduced to ruins.
Jan of Watemberg initiated the first stage of the Renaissance alterations, which were continued by the Lobkowicz family. In 1594, the castle came once again to the royal property and was administrated by the Bohemian (Czech) Royal Chamber. The Thirty Years' War contributed greatly to the castle's deterioration. In 1923, the castle was sold to the Czech Association of Tourists for 2000 Czechoslovak crowns and now it belongs to the state. Since the 1930s the gradual restoration works continue until to this day.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.