St. John's Church was built in the fourteenth century as a Franciscan abbey church. Franciscans erected a monastery with a basilica in 1225 on the site of the current church. The monastery grew rapidly and the church was soon too small. As a result, a vaulted Hall church with three aisles was built in its place in 1380. The money for this came mostly from the many funerary endowments resulting from the Black Death in Europe, which killed seven thousand in Bremen.
In 1528, during the Reformation, the monastery was closed and Bremen's first hospital and mental asylum was built on the site of the monastery in 1538, with the approval of the monks. Church and monastery served different purposes; the church was used as a hospital church and sometimes served Protestant congregations when their churches were being renovated or repaired. From 1684 religious services of the Hugenots and later of Belgian religious refugees were held in the church. Until the middle of the seventeenth century, the monastery continued to serve as Bremen's hospital.
From 1802 only the choir was used in religious services. The nave was meant to be converted into a warehouse, but, due to the Napoleonic invasion of Bremen, this never occurred. The catholic community which was officially recognised again in 1806 acquired the church at the impetus of the council and rededicated it as a Catholic church on 17 October 1823, after restoration work. Using the rubble from the destruction of the monastery for hygiene reasons in 1834, the level of the streets around the church was raised by two meters to avoid floods; within the church, the floor level was raised by three metres. As a result a large cellar was created, which was rented commercially in order to offset debt until 1992 when it became the crypt. Raising the floor level of the church meant that the ceiling height is three metres lower than it used to be. The reconstruction of 1822/3 can be most easily be discerned from the lower part of the choir windows which have been bricked up.
St John is the only surviving monastery church in the city. Only Catherine's Passage in the city centre testifies to the existence of the earlier Dominican monastery and its church of St Katherine. St Paul's monastery in front of the city gates was destroyed in 1546 by military action.
The church building is a particularly clear example of the Brick gothic style. All three naves were covered by a single especially large pitched roof. The west gable's extraordinary form and size derives from this design. It is divided into three stories, which each contain pointed arch windows arranged in pairs. The base line of these windows is a line of ornamental brickwork. At the apex of the gable is a cruciform window with a star of David. This has been in place since 1878, when the roof was repaired and the new gable installed, surmounted by a stone cross. The star of David was probably included as a result of horror vacui. No other symbolic significance at all is attested in church documents. One can, however, suggest that that the star of David is symbolic of the Old Testament and the cruciform shape is symbolic of the New Testament. The two belong together and form the foundation of the church.
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.