Zehra is one of the earliest Slovak settlements in the region. In the later feudal period it formed part of the castle domain, with a manor in the village. The village was first mentioned in local records in 1245, when Count Johann of Žehra was given permission to construct a church there by the church authorities of Spiš.
The Church of the Holy Spirit was completed in 1275. It is noted both for its picturesque appearance, perched on a mound above the village, and for its remarkable series of wall paintings. These have survived despite much damage to the building, including a fire in the 15th century which burnt down its original ceiling. The remaining building is a single nave structure, topped with onion-shaped domes of the 17th century.
The oldest wall paintings are a set of eight consecration crosses, marking the spots where the original building was christened with holy chrism, and thus dating back to the 13th century. Later in the 13th century, a second stage of painting is marked by the depiction of Golgotha on the tympanum of the church's south doorway. Frescoes in the sanctuary, dating from the 14th century, showing Byzantine influence, include representations of the Last Judgement, the Last Supper, the Deposition and Saints Cosmas and Damian, the patron saints of doctors. On the north wall are two notable 'framed' frescoes, one depicting the Pietà, the other showing a symbolic Tree of Life which dramatises the triumph of the Church over the Synagogue.
These paintings were preserved because after an outbreak of plague in the 17th century, the interior of the church was covered with lime plaster for disinfection. They were discovered again in the 1950s when the lime was removed using cottage cheese - effective for this purpose because it contains casein.
The church was declared a Czechoslovak National Monument in 1985, and in 1993 was listed as a World Heritage Site together with the nearby Spiš Castle, Spišská Kapitula and (since 2009) the nearby town of Levoča.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.