Aalholm Castle is the oldest castle on the Lolland island, first mentioned in the 1329. The castle was initially the seat of the king's vassal or lensmand, and thus the centre of local government. It is not known when the castle was founded, but for historical reasons, it was probably around 1200. During this period, a number of royal castles were built across the country to strengthen the king's power in the regions and guard against attack.
Aalholm was located on a very favorable site, standing on a little island in the inlet known as Nysted Nor. Completely surrounded by water, it was protected from the open sea although ships of all kinds could sail right up to the island, provided they had crews conversant with the channel to be followed. Not far to the north and west, there was fertile land where produce could be grown for the castle, with a surplus for the vassal and the king. The importance of the area at the time can also be appreciated from the fact that the Franciscan monastery in Nysted, built in 1286, was the only one on the islands, especially as the Franciscans always settled in thriving, populated areas where they could rely on the support of the inhabitants.
However, it is impossible to trace the early history of the castle as there are no written sources and any archaeological evidence is hidden beneath today's building. The castle has been built and rebuilt even since it was founded. The oldest part of the existing building is the north wing, thought to date from the 14th and 15th centuries. Thereafter, there is plenty of documentation on restoration and refurbishment, sometimes also revealing the poor state of the building. For example, in the 1550s, bricks from the Franciscan monastery were used to repair the castle while after the Swedish Wars of 1657-1660, the building had no windows and the towers no roofs. In the 18th century, parts of the south wing were demolished and the east wing was fully renovated. In 1889, a further section of the south wing was pulled down and two new lateral wings were added on the south side of the north wing. As a result, the once rectangualar structure now took on a shape resembling a pair of spectacles. Since then there have been no significant changes to the castle's exterior.
In the 1970s, parts of the castle were opened to the public as a museum, while the former owner established a vintage car museum on Stubberup Farm about one kilometer to the west of the castle. In connection with the sale of the castle and estate in 1995, all the furnishings were auctioned off while the new owner took over the automobile museum. The museum was closed in 2008 owing to the poor state of the buildings.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.