The Chiaramonte Castle of Siculiana, situated in thehomonymous town, is a rich and splendid architectural monument. It was built on the top of a headland, probably seat of the ancient cena. The castle dominated, with its towers, the village and the valley that lies gently on the Mediterranean sea.
The origin of the fortress is Arab. The ancient arab castle was rebuilt in 1314, by order of Federico Chiaramonte. In 1311 Costanza, Federico Chiaramonte’s only daughter, celebrated in the castle her second mariage. Her husband was the noble from Genoa Brancaleone Doria, who became Governor of Sardinia in 1335. Many mariages and noble agreements were celebrated in the castle, due to its splendor and to the belief that any celebration that took place on the “Rock of Siculiana”, was blessed.
In the late years of the 14th century, in the centre of Piazza d’Armi, a deep cistern was bored to gather and conserve rain water for daily use. A precious resource in case of siege, which you can still admire today. The Church of St. Lorenzo, in the south wing of the castle, is the most ancient of Siculiana, built during the 17th century.
During the ages, the castle became a prison. The last Baron of Siculiana was Antonio Perez. In the early years of the 20th century, the Baron agnello ordered the destruction of the “Forth Noble”, the most important artistic and historical part of the castle, to build a luxurious residence for himself.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.