During the Middle Ages, an Old Prussian fort called Malcekuke was located near the current site of Pieniężno. The Teutonic Knights built an Ordensburg castle near Malcekuke in 1302. Both the castle and the town which developed nearby were destroyed during the war between the Teutonic Order and the Kingdom of Poland in 1414. During the Thirteen Years' War, Mehlsack surrendered to the Order, and the castle burned down during Poland's recapture of the town. From 1589-1599, Prince Andrew Cardinal Báthory of Transylvania, cousin of Sigismund Báthory, was the administrator for the castle. In 1550, the Prussian army laid siege to the city and partially burned it down.
The town was captured by Swedish troops in 1626 during the Polish-Swedish War of 1625-29, recovered by Hetman Stanisław Rewera Potocki, and then had its castle partially destroyed by Swedish troops in 1627. The castle was restored in 1640 with Baroque gables, and its function changed from being a fortress to being a château.
During the 19th and 20th centuries the castle lost some of its Gothic and Baroque features, and in 1870 its eastern and southern wings were demolished after extensive deterioration. The remainder of the castle was used as administrative offices for Prussianofficials. From 1920-31 the western wing was renovated so the castle could be used as a school and museum. In 1945, Mehlsack, including its castle, was 90% destroyed by fighting during World War II and was conquered by the Soviet Red Army from Nazi Germany.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.