Niasvizh Town Hall – a memorial of architecture of the 16th century – is the most ancient among the town hall buildings preserved in the territory of Belarus. Its construction began, in the judgment of quite a number of researches, under the design of the Italian architect Giovanni Maria Bernardoni after the town had acquired the Magdeburg Right. Stefan Batory, King of Rzecz Pospolita and Great Prince of Lithuania signed the Privilege on Magdeburg Right for Niasvizh in Grodna on April 23, 1586. It permitted the town to enjoy full rights ofself-government, tax remissions, jurisdictional immunity, profitable conditions for the craftsmen and tradespeople.
At the same time, Niasvizh received its emblem. The existence of that attribute testified to a rather high economic and cultural level achieved by the town. The emblem was present at the municipal seal which emphasizedindependence of Niasvizh from princely or royal authority.
The second Privilege of June 18, the same year, was granted to the town by the owner of Niasvizh Mikołaj Krzysztof 'the Orphan' Radziwiłł. In accordance with the latter Privilege, the municipal authority had to construct a 'stone town hall'. Ten years after Magdeburg Right had been conferred, the Town Hall was erected in 1596. The first graphic representation of Niasvizh Town Hall came to us in Tomasz Makowski’s engraving (about 1604). The ancient etching depicted the town clock, bells, and observing platform on the tower.
The town council building erected on the citizens’ money was the main place for every township member to solve his urgent problems for several centuries.
The edifice is simple in shape but massive in volume. The mall consisting of numerous cell-likeshops was constructed in the same style. There were 52 stone-walled shops in the 17th century. Thedriveways between them and the Town Hall building were closed with solid gates. In the so-called 'Magdeburg period' (the end of the 16th century-1836), the Town Hall basement housed a prison; the ground floor contained the mall, municipal weigh station, watch room, arms storefor the citizens in case of jeopardy, special premises for storage of fire extinguishing equipment. The first floor was given to the municipal councilinstitutions. Those were the Council Hall, Courtroom, Conference Hall, Archive, Skarbnica (depository), and Vojt’s and Starostas’ offices. The municipal archive with administration books and Privileges granted to the town by the Kings and Radziwiłłs was kept there as well.
During the Northern war, the Town Hall wason fire, it was restored in 1752. The great fire of 1836 caused an irreparable damage to the edifice, the first-floor rooms suffered very badly. The tower reduced from six to four levels. It was since that time till the end of the 19th century, that the Town Hall stayed at loose ends. The repair work was carried on at a different rate almost till the decline of the Russian Empire. From the end of the 19th century to 1939, the Town Hall and Municipal Council, Powiat Starosta’s office, police and town administration were located there. After the Great Patriotic War, the Town Hall housed the district Palace of Culture, later the Palace of pioneers and schoolchildren, children's library.
From 1997 to 2004, the repair work was carried out at the Town Hall, memorial of architecture of the 16th-18th centuries. It resulted in an initial appearance of the facades, renewal of the tower upper floors. The tower regained a municipal clock (like the one in the 16th century) and observing platform. The interiors of the first floor were reconstructed for the museum exposition 'Municipal self-government of Niasvizh in the 18th- the first half of 19th centuries'. There is a restaurant on the ground-floor.References:
The famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.
The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.
In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.
During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.
Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.
The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.
During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.