The origins of the Maredolce Castle are unknown. Some scholars tend to attribute the foundation of the castle to the emir Ja'far al-Kalbi (998-1019), believing that it was built over a pre-existing structure. Other scholars believe that the castle dates back to the Norman era, although others consider that just the lake of the Favara Park was realized in the age of the Hauteville dynasty. The first documents regarding the castle and its park are the 'Chronicon sive Annales' of Romuald Guarna and a poem of the muslim poet Abd ar-Rahman al-Itrabanishi (12th century).
In 1071, during the military campaign to conquer Palermo, the area of the castle was occupied by the Norman Count Roger I. After a few decades, it was used as one of the Solatii Regii erected along the royal parks of the city and, thus, became one of the royal residence of the first King of Sicily, Roger II. The structure was a part of a fortified complex located at the foot of Monte Grifone, probably closed within a surrounding wall including the palace, a ḥammām and an artificial lake.
In 1328 the King Frederick III gave the castle and the park to the Teutonic Order, whose headquarters was at the Basilica della Magione. During this period the structure was used as a hospital. In the 15th century the castle passed to the noble family Beccadelli di Bologna. In 17th century another change of ownership occurred and the castle was ceded to the Duke Francesco Agraz. Under the ownership of the Agraz family the building was left in a state of massive neglect and, thus, became known with the epithet of Castellaccio.
In 1992 the Sicilian Region has acquired the complex thanks to an expropriation. The restoration started in 2007, but even in 2016 some spaces near the castle are unlawfully occupied. The still precarious conditions of the structure have temporarily prevented the inclusion of the castle within the Unesco World Heritage Site called Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale.
By the will of Roger II, the building was surrounded by an artificial lake, at the centre of the Favara Park. The lake had at its heart an artificial island (2 hectares) and was obtained thanks to a dam interrupting the path of the source of Monte Grifone. In 16th century this source ran dry.
The building has a quadrangular drawing and is equipped with a large courtyard. Inside the castle is also present a 'palatin chapel', dedicated to the saints Philip and James.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.