The history of the Royal Castle goes back to the fourteenth century when the Great Tower was erected (see the map of the Castle – now called the Justice Court Tower). During the reign of Zygmunt III Vasa the Castle was transformed into a five-winged edifice. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries during the reign of Sigismund III Vasa, the Castle underwent large-scale expansion and was transformed into a five-winged edifice with an inner courtyard. It was a royal residence, the place where parliamentary deliberations were held and the administrative and cultural centre of the country. Destroyed in the middle of the seventeenth century during the Swedish Wars, it gradually regained its former magnificence during the reign of the Saxon-Wettin dynasty. In the second half of the eigheteenth century, artists in the employ of Stanislaus Augustus (Jan Christian Kamsetzer, Marcello Bacciarelli, Domenico Merlini) reconstructed the interiors of the chambers, comprising the Great Apartment and the King's Apartment. During the period of the partitions (in the nineteenth century) the major part of the collections of the last Polish king ended up in Russia. After Poland regained its independence, some of the works of art were reinstated to their rightful place in the Castle. In September 1939 the Castle was bombed by the Germans; however museologists, under the leadership of Professor Stanisław Lorentz, managed to salvage some elements of the interiors and also some of the works of art. In September 1944 the Castle was blown up by the Germany army. In the years 1945-1970, the Communist authorities delayed making a decision on whether to rebuild the Castle. The decision to do so was taken in 1971. Funds for the rebuilding of the Castle which took until 1980 were provided thanks to the dedication of the community. In 1984 the reconstructed interiors were opened to the general public. Since 1995 work has been undertaken on the conservation of the Kubicki Arcades and the reconstruction of the gardens. Once these works are completed, and the Tin-Roofed Palace refurbished, the rebuilding of the Royal Castle complex will have been finalized. Nowadays state ceremonies are held at the Castle. It is also an important educational centre and works of art from the largest European collections are exhibited there.