Kłodzko Fortress is a unique fortification complex of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship in southwestern Poland. The fortress once was one of the biggest strongholds in Prussian Silesia, however, in the whole German Empire, it was regarded as a minor one. Now, together with an extensive network of tunnels, it is one of the biggest attractions of the town of Kłodzko, with its underground labyrinth and a repository of different objects, from old fire engines to local glassware.
A stronghold on Kłodzko's Castle Hill was mentioned for the first time in the Chronicle of Bohemians. Most probably, it was a complex of wooden buildings, protected with a palisade. Kłodzko itself is located along the strategic route between Wrocław and Prague, and its role as a trading point must have been significant since the early Middle Ages. In 1114, the stronghold was captured and destroyed by Czech troops under prince Soběslav, who at the same time reconquered the whole area.
In 1129, Soběslav rebuilt the town and placed a castellan there. Some time around 1300, a spacious castle was built on the hill, which became seat of the Kłodzko County. Gradually, the castle grew, a church and a chapel were added and in 1557, Lorenz Krischke, architect at the court of Prince Ernest of Bavaria, built the Lower Castle. In the 16th century, there were five wells in the castle with the oldest one from 1393.
In 1622, during the Thirty Years' War, after the long siege, the fortress was captured by the Austrian Army. The city was besieged in June of that year, but for a long time resisted the attackers. Finally, the Austrians brought in two large cannons to fire upon the walls of Kłodzko and the city surrendered on October 25. In subsequent years the Austrians modernized the fortress and replaced ancient fortifications with up-to-date bastions.
In 1742, during the War of the Austrian Succession the city together with its stronghold was conquered by Prussia under Frederick II. The city itself surrendered on January 14, but the fortress, with 2000 soldiers, held out until April 25, when starvation made further resistance impossible. Out of the initial Austrian garrison of 2000, only 200 survived, 'pale as shadows'. The Prussians expanded the fortress, making it a defensive one. Major works continued during the Silesian Wars, until 1770, however, the fortress was not fully completed 200 years after the Austrians began to modernize it.
In the 19th century, the stronghold, which in 1807 was captured by the French Army supported by Bavarian troops became a prison. Interestingly enough, in early 19th century, due to economic depression, prisoners’ earnings in Glatz were so low that the administration would send a prisoner every Saturday to beg for help in the city. Among prisoners there, was a British Army captain Bertrand Stewart, who in 1911 was accused of espionage and released in 1913. During World War II, the stronghold was not only a prisoner-of-war camp, but a sub-camp of the Gross-Rosen concentration camp.
In 1945, the stronghold together with the city became part of Poland. The Kłodzko Fortress, its current name, looks like it did 200 years ago with little changes, and it is one of the main tourist attractions of the city. From its top, there is a magnificent view of the Kłodzko Valley. It is also possible to visit the cellars, with an impressive labyrinth of the underground corridors, excavated in the 19th century by prisoners of war.
The stronghold’s complex covers the area of 17 hectares. Its lower walls are 11 meters thick, and the upper walls are around four meters. According to some sources, it is the largest and the best preserved fortress of its kind in Poland.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.