Noltland Castle dates mainly to the later 16th century, although it was never fully completed. In 1560 Adam Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney, granted the lands of Noltland to his brother-in-law Gilbert Balfour, who built the castle. Balfour was Master of the Royal Household to Mary, Queen of Scots, and was involved in the plot to kill her husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. After Mary's deposition and exile, he continued to support the queen. Noltland was seized by Robert Stewart, 1st Earl of Orkney, an opponent of Mary's supporters, but he was forced to hand it back to Balfour in the early 1570s. Balfour died in Sweden in 1567, and in 1598 the castle was again seized by the Earl of Orkney (now Patrick Stewart, son of Robert). By 1606 the castle had been restored to the Balfours once more, when it was sold to Sir John Arnot, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, who later became Sheriff of Orkney.
During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in 1650, Royalist officers occupied the castle after their defeat at the Battle of Carbisdale. Local Covenanters captured and burned the castle. By 1881 it was described as a ruin, and was given into state care by the Balfour family in 1911. it is now maintained by Historic Scotland.
The castle is built in the Z-plan form, comprising a rectangular main block with towers at opposite corners. A courtyard was added to the south in the 17th century. The castle is notable for its defensive architecture, unusual for the period, including a large number of shot holes. The large staircase has been compared to the stair at Fyvie Castle in Aberdeenshire.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.