The archaeological open-air museum Biskupin is a life-size model of an Iron Age fortified settlement in Poland. When first discovered it was thought to be early evidence of Slavic settlement but archaeologists later confirmed it belonged to the Biskupin group of the Lusatian culture. The settlement belongs to the Hallstatt C and D periods (early Iron Age, 800-650 BC and 650-475 BC).
In 1933 Polish archaeologists discovered remains of a Bronze Age fort or settlement in Wielkopolska (Greater Poland), the discovery became famous overnight. The site soon became part of Polish national consciousness, the symbol of achievements of the Slavonic forebears in prehistoric times. It was called the 'Polish Pompeii' or 'Polish Herculaneum'. The existence of a prehistoric fortress, 70 km from the German border, was used to show that the prehistoric 'Poles' had held their own against foreign invaders and plunderers as early as the Iron Age. Biskupin came to feature in paintings and popular novels.
When the Germans occupied Poland in the autumn of 1939, Biskupin was renamed 'Urstädt'. In 1940, excavations were resumed by the SS-Ahnenerbe until 1942. When Germans were forced to retreat they flooded the site hoping to destroy it, but—ironically—it led to very good preservation of the ancient timbers. Excavations were resumed by Polish archaeologists after the war and continued until 1974.
There are two settlement periods at Biskupin, which was located in the middle of a lake but is now situated on a peninsula, that follow each other without hiatus. Both settlements were laid out on a rectangular grid with eleven streets that are three meters wide. The older settlement from early Iron Age was established on a slightly wet island of over 2 hectares and consisted of ca. 100 oak and pine log-houses that are of similar layout and measure ca. 8 x 10 m each. They consisted of two chambers and an open entrance-area.These houses were designed to accommodate 10–12 persons. An open hearth was located in the centre of the biggest room. There are no larger houses that could indicate social stratification. Because of the damp, boggy ground the streets were covered with wooden planks.
The settlement was surrounded by a tall wooden wall, or palisade, set on a rampart made up of both wood and earth. The rampart was constructed of oak trunks that form boxes filled with earth. The rampart is more than 450 m long and accompanied by a wooden breakwater in the lake. 6000–8000 m³ of wood have been used in the construction of the rampart.
In 1936 the first life-size model (open-air museum) was built on the peninsula, but it was intentionally destroyed by retreating Germans near the end of World War II. After the war it was rebuilt, and the ramparts and one full street with houses on both sides were also added.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.