The Grand Kremlin Palace was built from 1837 to 1849 on the site of the estate of the Grand Princes, which had been established in the 14th century on Borovitsky Hill. Designed by a team of architects under the management of Konstantin Thon, it was intended to emphasise the greatness of Russian autocracy. Konstantin Thon was also the architect of the Kremlin Armoury and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
The Grand Kremlin Palace was formerly the tsar's Moscow residence. Its construction involved the demolition of the previous Baroque palace on the site, designed by Rastrelli, and the Church of St. John the Baptist, constructed to a design by Aloisio the New in place of the first church ever built in Moscow.
Thon's palace is 125 metres long, 47 metres high, and has a total area of about 25,000 square metres. It includes the earlier Terem Palace, nine churches from the 14th, 16th, and 17th centuries, the Holy Vestibule, and over 700 rooms. The buildings of the Palace form a rectangle with an inner courtyard. The building appears to be three stories, but is actually two. The upper floor has two sets of windows. The west building of the Palace held state reception halls and the imperial family's private chambers.
Its five reception halls are named for orders of the Russian Empire. Georgievsky Hall is used today for state and diplomatic receptions and official ceremonies. International treaties are signed at the Vladimirsky Hall. Such as the instance on June 1, 1988, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev signed the INF Treaty ratification. It also leads to the Palace of Facets, the Tsarina's Golden Chamber, Terem Palace, the Winter Palace, and the Palace of Congresses. Aleksandrovsky Hall and Andreyevsky Hall were combined in Soviet times to be used for meetings and conferences of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR; they were lavishly restored in accordance with Thon's designs in the 1990s.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.