During the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944, more than 85% of Warsaw's historic centre was destroyed by Nazi troops. After the war, a five-year reconstruction campaign by its citizens resulted in today's meticulous restoration of the Old Town, with its churches, palaces and market-place. It is an outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the 13th to the 20th century.
From these ruins, between 1945 and 1966, the will of the nation brought to life again a city of which 85% had been destroyed. The reconstruction of the historic centre so that it is identical with the original symbolizes the will to ensure the survival of one of the prime settings of Polish culture and illustrates, in an exemplary fashion, the restoration techniques of the second half of the 20th century. The reconstruction of religious edifices such as the Cathedral of St John, the churches of Our Lady, St James and the Holy Trinity, and the palace, was accompanied by the integral restitution of the urban whole, with its full land allotment and its reconstruction. The example of the market place of the Old City is justifiably famous.
Warsaw Old Town was established in the 13th century. The heart of the area is the Old Town Market Square: until the end of the 18th century the square was the most important place in Warsaw; regular fairs and festivities were held here. During the Second World War the square was turned into rubble, but after many years of reconstruction it was restored to its original beauty. Surrounding streets feature old architecture such as the City Walls and the Barbican. The Cathedral of St John, completed in the 15th century, was originally a parish church and only became a cathedral in 1798. During the war it was destroyed but it has been restored to its original Gothic style. The interior of the cathedral features many works of religious art, tombs and various sculptures and paintings.
Almost every building in the Old Town, a blend of different styles from Gothic to Baroque, is old and of a unique architectural style. Among the other attractive historic structures are the many churches, the Barbican, the City Walls, Fukier House, Pelican House, Pod Blacha Palace and Salvator House.
Warsaw's Old Town has been placed on the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites as 'an outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the 13th to the 20th century.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.