Monastery of San Pedro de Rocas, which is unique due to the fact that it is excavated in the natural rock, displays none of the delicate Gothic structures nor the harmonious proportions of the Renaissance style. It is a very ancient, rough, almost primitive construction, which witnessed the first hermit settlements in the area.
The historical value of San Pedro de Rocas (St. Peter of the Rocks) is more anthropological than aesthetic.The presence of the first inhabitants here can be traced back to the year 573. According to the inscriptions on its foundation tablet, which is kept at the Provincial Archaeological Museum, its founders were seven men who chose this beautiful spot as a retreat to lead a life of prayer.
Later, in the 9th century, the place was rediscovered by the Knight Gemodus during a hunting trip. He settled there and was appointed Abbot by his colleagues. Legend or not, the fact is that there is proof of the existence of Gemodus, as shown in the privilege granted to Rocas by Alfonso V in 1007.
In later centuries this monastery, which was never very wealthy nor had a great number of inhabitants, came under the jurisdiction of those of Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil and San Salvador de Celanova.
The monastery's church, which dates back to the 6th century, is one of the oldest known Christian temples. Its three naves were excavated in the rock. The ceiling of the central nave has an opening that allows light in from the outside. A pilaster serves as the altar. On the wall of the chapel to the left, a small area of 5 x 3.40 m, there is a hollow that supposedly contained the tomb of Gemodus. There, a fresco mural painting was discovered, dating from between 1175 and 1200, with images of the Apostles and a map of the world.
We can also see sculptured sepulchres with images of recumbent figures. On the floor of the church and the atrium there are numerous tombs excavated in the rock. The church was later expanded with the addition of a nave. The bell tower, designed by Gonzalo de Penalva in the 15th century, is located on the upper part of an enormous rock formation almost 20 m high, from which the place takes its name.An arch serves as access to a small area, used until recently as parish cemetery. It has a quadrangular layout and is enclosed by a wall. From here a path descends down the mountainside to the San Bieito Fountain, also excavated in the rock.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.