The Royal Gniezno Cathedral served as the coronation place for several Polish monarchs and as the seat of Polish church officials continuously for nearly 1000 years. Throughout its long and tragic history, the building stayed mostly intact making it one of the oldest and most precious sacral monuments in Poland.
The cathedral played an outstanding role in the history of Poland, serving as the stronghold capital of the first Piasts, and as the starting point for Bishop Adalbert’s Christianising mission to Prussia in 997. It was here that the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III came in pilgrimage in the year 1000 to visit St Adalbert’s grave, and here that in 1025 the coronation of Boleslaus I the Brave took place (and later that of his successors - Mieszko II and Boleslaus II the Bold). In 1018 part of the stronghold settlement and cathedral were destroyed by fire, and a new church was built to replace the pre-Romanesque one at the decree of Boleslaus I. This three-aisled cathedral basilica featured two towers, though little of it survives. It was damaged in 1038 during a raid on Poland by Bretislaus, Duke of Bohemia, and in 1331, when attacked by the Teutonic Knights.
Relict remains of these earlier buildings are concealed within the walls of the present Gothic cathedral, which was built around the mid-14th century thanks to Archbishop Jarosław Bogoria Skotnicki. The first stage of this project saw the construction of a chancel with an ambulatory and a series of radiating chapels around it. In later years (up to 1512) the nave and towers were built. Further restructuring obscured the cathedral’s Gothic form, which was ultimately restored in the 1950s. Chapels which were built or partially remodelled in the 17th and 18th centuries to make burial chapels for bishops and canons, are sealed off by wrought-iron screens (14th-18th century) set in Baroque portals made of dark and pale marble.
The most famous works of art in the cathedral are the Gniezno Doors and the coffin containing the relics of St Adalbert. The Gniezno Doors, fitted in the Gothic portal of the south entrance, represent one of the finest examples of Romanesque metalwork in Europe. The pair of doors, cast in bronze in c. 1170, are of uneven size and, interestingly, one of them was cast in one piece whilst the other is made up of 24 sections soldered together. The surface of each door is divided into nine low relief panels depicting scenes from the life and death of St Adalbert.References:
Czocha Castle is located on the Lake Leśnia, what is now the Polish part of Upper Lusatia. Czocha castle was built on gneiss rock, and its oldest part is the keep, to which housing structures were later added.
Czocha Castle began as a stronghold, on the Czech-Lusatian border. Its construction was ordered by Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, in the middle of the 13th century (1241–1247). In 1253 castle was handed over to Konrad von Wallhausen, Bishop of Meissen. In 1319 the complex became part of the dukedom of Henry I of Jawor, and after his death, it was taken over by another Silesian prince, Bolko II the Small, and his wife Agnieszka. Origin of the stone castle dates back to 1329.
In the mid-14th century, Czocha Castle was annexed by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. Then, between 1389 and 1453, it belonged to the noble families of von Dohn and von Kluks. Reinforced, the complex was besieged by the Hussites in the early 15th century, who captured it in 1427, and remained in the castle for unknown time (see Hussite Wars). In 1453, the castle was purchased by the family of von Nostitz, who owned it for 250 years, making several changes through remodelling projects in 1525 and 1611. Czocha's walls were strengthened and reinforced, which thwarted a Swedish siege of the complex during the Thirty Years War. In 1703, the castle was purchased by Jan Hartwig von Uechtritz, influential courtier of Augustus II the Strong. On August 17, 1793, the whole complex burned in a fire.
In 1909, Czocha was bought by a cigar manufacturer from Dresden, Ernst Gutschow, who ordered major remodelling, carried out by Berlin architect Bodo Ebhardt, based on a 1703 painting of the castle. Gutschow, who was close to the Russian Imperial Court and hosted several White emigres in Czocha, lived in the castle until March 1945. Upon leaving, he packed up the most valuable possessions and moved them out.
After World War II, the castle was ransacked several times, both by soldiers of the Red Army, and Polish thieves, who came to the so-called Recovered Territories from central and eastern part of the country. Pieces of furniture and other goods were stolen, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the castle was home to refugees from Greece. In 1952, Czocha was taken over by the Polish Army. Used as a military vacation resort, it was erased from official maps. The castle has been open to the public since September 1996 as a hotel and conference centre. The complex was featured in several movies and television series. Recently, the castle has been used as the setting of the College of Wizardry, a live action role-playing game (LARP) that takes place in their own universe and can be compared to Harry Potter.