One of the most significant monuments of profane architecture on the Croatian coast is the Rector's Palace, former administrative centre of the Dubrovnik Republic. Its style is basically Gothic, with the Renaissance and Baroque reconstructions. In the 15th century the Palace was destroyed twice in gunpowder explosions. Restored by Onofrio della Cava in the late Gothic style after the first explosion in 1435, the Palace got its present-day size with the central atrium and front portico. The capitals were carved in Renaissance style by Pietro di Martino of Milan, whose capital with Aesculapius has been preserved on the right half-column of the portico.
The second gunpowder explosion in 1463 destroyed the western facade of the Palace, and the two famous architects Juraj Dalmatinac and Michelozzo of Florence were engaged in the reconstruction for a short period.Although the design of Michelozzo was unfortunately rejected, his influence in the restoration of the facade and portico, mainly in Renaissance style, can not be denied. After the earthquake of 1667 the atrium was partially reconstructed with an impressive Baroque staircase.
During his one-month mandate the Rector of Dubrovnik lived in the Palace, which also housed the Minor and Major Council hall, the Rectors residence, the courtroom, administration office, prisons, an arsenal and gunpowder store-house. From the Rectors Palace one could enter the Great Council Palace.
Today the Rectors Palace houses the Cultural-historic Department of the Dubrovnik Museum with exhibition halls arranged to display the original setting with antique furniture and objects for daily use, as well as paintings by local and Italian masters.
The Museum also guards a collection of old coins used in the Dubrovnik Republic, a collection of arms and utensils of Domus Christi Pharmacy from the 15th century. Apart from being exceptionally beautiful, the Rectors Palace Atrium has excellent acoustics, and is often used as a concert venue.References:
Varberg Fortress was built in 1287-1300 by count Jacob Nielsen as protection against his Danish king, who had declared him an outlaw after the murder of King Eric V of Denmark. Jacob had close connections with king Eric II of Norway and as a result got substantial Norwegian assistance with the construction. The fortress, as well as half the county, became Norwegian in 1305.
King Eric's grand daughter, Ingeborg Håkansdotter, inherited the area from her father, King Haakon V of Norway. She and her husband, Eric, Duke of Södermanland, established a semi-independent state out of their Norwegian, Swedish and Danish counties until the death of Erik. They spent considerable time at the fortress. Their son, King Magnus IV of Sweden (Magnus VII of Norway), spent much time at the fortress as well.
The fortress was augmented during the late 16th and early 17th century on order by King Christian IV of Denmark. However, after the Treaty of Brömsebro in 1645 the fortress became Swedish. It was used as a military installation until 1830 and as a prison from the end of the 17th Century until 1931.
It is currently used as a museum and bed and breakfast as well as private accommodation. The moat of the fortress is said to be inhabited by a small lake monster. In August 2006, a couple of witnesses claimed to have seen the monster emerge from the dark water and devour a duck. The creature is described as brown, hairless and with a 40 cm long tail.