The Convent of Nativity of Saint John the Baptist is a former Russian Orthodox nunnery in Pskov. It is notable for the katholikon, one of Russia's oldest churches, dating from the first half of the 12th century. The church is located at the city center, on the left bank of the Velikaya River, in the Zavelichye quarter. It currently belongs to Krypetsky Monastery. It is the second oldest building in Pskov after the katholikon of the Mirozhsky Monastery and was designated an architectural monument of federal significance.
The construction date of the katholikon is traditionally estimated as the beginning of the 1140s. The studies of local Pskov architect, Sergey Mikhaylov, performed between 1970 and 1980, suggested the dates between 1124 and 1127. The Ivanovsky monastery was first mentioned in 1243. It was founded by Princess Efrosinya, the wife of Prince Yaroslav Vladimirovich of Pskov, who became a nun in the monastery. In 1243, she died and was buried in the cathedral. Later, a number of Pskov princesses also became nuns, and they were buried in the cathedral as well.
In 1615, during the Swedish siege of Pskov, the monastery was occupied by the Swedish army, and the katholikon was severely damaged. The monastery was closed in 1925. The building was subsequently used as a garage, a storage room, and a museum. In 1944, during World War II, there was a fire in the cathedral. In 1949-1959 it was restored. In 1991, the Cathedral of Nativity of Saint John the Baptist was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church, and in 2007, it was transferred to the Krypetsky Monastery.
Unlike many other churches in Pskov, the Ivanovsky katholikon is made of limestone, with some additions of plinthite. It has three apses and three domes, and its architecture is close to that of the katholikons in Antoniev Monastery and Yuriev Monastery in Novgorod. Originally, the interior was covered by frescoes, but almost all of the frescoes were lost. There is a belfry, built in the 16th century and adjoining the southwestern corner of the church.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.