The Castle of the Visconti in Pandino is a Gothic-style castle located in the center of the town of Pandino. In 1355, Bernabò Visconti, Lord of Milan commissioned a castle at the site in part to have access to the then wooded surrounding hunting preserves. The castle is a quadrangle with corner towers and an internal courtyard with a hemming ground-floor portico with stout brick columns with peaked arches, and a second floor with denser simple columns. The exterior have single windows on the ground floor and mullioned peaked windows on the piano nobile. On the east wing, the ground floor had a second set of internal arches leading to a former banquet hall.
Overall, the castle has a rustic appearance. The interior retains some of the frescoed decoration, including painted architecture, and friezes that often included the symbols of the Visconti and of the family of Bernabò's wife, Regina Della Scala. Across from the entrance is the frescoed 16th-century Oratorio di Santa Marta.
The castle passed on to be property of the Sforza when Gian Galeazzo overthrew Bernabò Visconti. In the 15th century further defensive structures, including a barbican or gatehouse, and the taller east tower, were added to the castle. The castle was once surrounded by a moat. None of these measures was to prevent the castle from falling into the hands of the Venetians a number of times.
After the Sforza, the castle change hands a few times until in 1552, it became property of the Marchese D’Adda, and remained in this family's hands till the 19th century, the last private owners were the family of the Marchese D’Adda. The castle became largely dilapidated and was occupied for agricultural storage and workers. In 1947, it was purchased and restored by the commune which utilizes part for school functions.References:
The St Sophia's Cathedral was built between 1045-1050 inside the Novgorod Kremlin (fortress). It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. The cathedral was built by Prince Vladimir, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, and until the 1130s this principal church of the city also served as the sepulchre of Novgorodian princes. For the Novgorodians, St Sophia became synonymous with their town, the symbol of civic power and independence.
The five-domed church looks simpler but no less impressive than its prototype, the thirteen-domed St Sophia of Kiev. The cathedral exterior is striking in its majesty and epic splendour evoking the memories of Novgorod's glorious past and invincible might. In the 11th century it looked more imposing than now. Its facade represented a gigantic mosaic of huge, coarsely trimmed irregular slabs of flagstone and shell rock. In some places (particularly on the apses), the wall was covered with mortar, smoothly polished, drawn up to imitate courses of brick or of whitestone slabs, and slightly coloured. As a result, the facade was not white, as it is today, but multicoloured. The play of stone, decorative painting and the building materials of various texture enhanced the impression of austere simplicity and introduced a picturesque effect.
The two-storied galleries extend along the building's southern, western and northern sides, with a stair-tower constructed at the north-eastern corner. The cathedral has three entrances - the southern, western and northern, of which the western was the main one intended for ceremonial processions. A gate standing at the entrance is known as the Sigtuna Gate (mid-12th century); according to legend, it was brought from the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. The second name of the gate derives from the town of Magdeburg, where it was made. The two leaves are decorated with biblical and evangelical scenes in cast bronze relief. In the lower left corner there are portraits of the craftsmen who created this superb specimen of medieval Western European bronze-work. An inscription in Latin gives their names, Riquin and Weissmut. The small central figure - judging from an inscription in Slavonic - is a representation of the Russian master craftsman Avraam, who assembled the gate.
There is yet another bronze gate in the cathedral, called the Korsun Gate. Made in the 11th century in Chersonesos, Byzantium, it leads from the southern gallery into the Nativity Side-Chapel. Legend has it that the gate was handed over to Novgorod as a gift of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (c. 978 - 1054).
The interior of the cathedral is as majestic as its exterior. It is divided by huge piers into five aisles, three of which end in altar apses. In the south-western corner, inside the tower, there is a wide spiral in relatively small, modest buildings of the 12th - 16th centuries.