Biberstein estate was first mentioned in 1280 which indicates a late 13th century construction date. The castle was built for the Counts of Habsburg-Laufenburg. In 1335 the Habsburgs sold the castle and town to Rudolf von Büttikon who established a Knights Hospitaller commandry in the castle. After 1368 the Habsburgs attempted to secretly repurchase Biberstein Castle from the Knights by using a minor noble as a straw purchaser. However, the Knights refused an exchange or purchase.
In 1415 the city-state of Bern occupied part of Aargau including Biberstein, though the Knights continued to own and rule over the town and castle. During the Swabian War of 1499 Bernese troops occupied Biberstein Castle to protect their northern border. In 1527 Bern adopted the new faith of the Protestant Reformation and began to suppress the monasteries in their lands. In the following year a Bernese vogt occupied the castle and administered the lands around Biberstein. The Knights protested, but in 1535 the commander of the Knights, Johann von Hattstein, was forced to sell the castle to Bern, which gave the city de jure ownership.
After 1535 the castle became the seat of one of the smallest vogtei in the Canton of Bern. In the period between 1535 and 1798 a total of 51 vogt ruled over the land. However, as one of the smallest and poorest vogtei, most office holders sought additional or other appointments as soon as possible. In 1587 the castle was gutted by a fire. A suspected witch, Elsa Schiblerin, was accused of causing the fire and burned at the stake. Over the next few years the castle was rebuilt by the city of Bern. The castle was rebuilt as a more comfortable home for the resident vogt. The Biberstein coat of arms was painted above the main gate in 1627 and in 1643 Hans Balthasar Fisch painted the Bernese coat of arms on the tower. A fire in 1784 threatened the castle, but a quick response limited the damage to the roof.
The 1798 French invasion and the Helvetic Republic swept away the old system of vogt and vogtei. With the creation of the Canton of Aargau in the 1803 Act of Mediation the three villages of the old vogtei; Biberstein, Küttigen and Erlinsbach, were combined into one municipality and the castle became the property of the new canton. The castle was renovated in 1889 and became a home for children. It became a home for mentally handicapped adults in 1987.
The castle sits on a tuff hill above the Aare river. Of the medieval castle, only portions of the outer wall and the foundations of the donjon remain. The remaining walls and castle structure generally date to the 16th century reconstruction or later renovation projects.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.