The castle of Črni Kal was noted in the 11th century. Apart from being a resting place for traders and travellers, it was also the place of the conflict between the Habsburgs and the Venetians for the dominance of Koper.
The ruins of a castle overlooking Črni Kal, called Town or Old Town by domicile inhabitants, stand on a cliff some 30 meters high that once could be reached only by a four-meter-long drawbridge. Situated on the road through the Rižana Valley towards Klanec, between the Adriatic Coast and the interior, on the border between the Venetian and Habsburg interests, Črni Kal was mentioned as early as the 11th century.
Following the war fought against the Turks, the entire defensive complex, including Črni Kal, was taken over by the Koper municipality. It was a resting-place for tradesmen and travellers, but also a place where conflicts for the supremacy of Koper, the Habsburgs took place, as well as attacks by the Uskoks. As the fortress of Črni Kal was not strategically as important to the Venetians as Socerb, they handled the defeat from Habsburg General Krsto Frankopan with ease as well as its conquest following the attack on the area surrounding Venetian Koper, when it was pillaged by the Emperor followers. Črni Kal, controlling the entire valley, during the Uskok War and together with Socerb, represented the major point from where the Habsburg soldiers invaded their enemy. As the period from the early 15th until the first half of the 17th century was noted for its frequent pillagings, the unapproachable camp was established beneath the fort for the locals to store their possessions.
Today, the cliff at Črni Kal is a popular climbing site. It offers rock-climbing fans a variety of routes with different climbing grades and lengths all year round. A local attraction is the 'leaning tower', a belfry of St. Valentine's Church from the 17th century which inclines as a result of the caving in of the ground.References:
Castle Rushen is located in the Isle of Man"s historic capital, Castletown. The castle is amongst the best examples of medieval castles in the British Isles, and is still in use as a court house, museum and educational centre.
The exact date of castle is unknown, although construction is thought to have taken place during the reigns of the late 12th century and early 13th century rulers of the Isle of Man – the Kings of Mann and the Isles. The original Castle Rushen consisted of a central square stone tower, or keep. The site was also fortified to guard the entrance to the Silver Burn. From its early beginnings, the castle was continually developed by successive rulers of Mann between the 13th and 16th century. The limestone walls dominated much of the surrounding landscape, serving as a point of dominance for the various rulers of the Isle of Man. By 1313, the original keep had been reinforced with towers to the west and south. In the 14th century, an east tower, gatehouses, and curtain wall were added.
After several more changes of hands the English and their supporters eventually prevailed. The English king Edward I Longshanks claimed that the island had belonged to the Kings of England for generations and he was merely reasserting their rightful claim to the Isle of Man.
The 18th century saw the castle in steady decay. By the end of the century it was converted into a prison. Even though the castle was in continuous use as a prison, the decline continued until the turn of the 20th century, when it was restored under the oversight of the Lieutenant Governor, George Somerset, 3rd Baron Raglan. Following the restoration work, and the completion of the purpose-built Victoria Road Prison in 1891, the castle was transferred from the British Crown to the Isle of Man Government in 1929.
Today it is run as a museum by Manx National Heritage, depicting the history of the Kings and Lords of Mann. Most rooms are open to the public during the opening season (March to October), and all open rooms have signs telling their stories. The exhibitions include a working medieval kitchen where authentic period food is prepared on special occasions and re-enactments of various aspects of medieval life are held on a regular basis, with particular emphasis on educating the local children about their history. Archaeological finds made during excavations in the 1980s are displayed and used as learning tools for visitors.