Kirchheim Renaissance castle is the best preserved example of Württemberg duchy strongholds. On his return from exile, duke Ulrich of Württemberg ordered seven fortresses to be constructed across the country, in order to better protect its territory from other countries. As part of these measures, the fortifications of Kirchheim unter Teck were expanded and in 1538, the castle was established as a corner rampart of the city wall. This simple functional building with two timber floors with a massive base was completed in 1556 under Ulrich's son and successor, Duke Christoph. The building has an irregular diamond shape, with four wings. It was surrounded by a deep moat, which has now been drained. On one side, it still connects to the city walls.
At first, the modest palace of the rulers was used for defensive purposes and occasionally as a hunting lodge. When the plague raged in the capital city of Stuttgart in 1594, Frederick I moved his court here. Over time, its importance as a regional fortress decreased and it was gradually transformed into a residential palace.
During a two century period starting in 1628, Kirchheim castle served as the residence of the widows of some of the dukes. Residences used by the widows of other dukes included the castles in Nürtingen and Göppingen.
After the death of Duchess Henriette, the castle Kirchheimer was used for various purposes. In 1870 and 1871 it served as a hospital for the wounded of the Franco-German War. From 1876 till 1908 the Catholic parish held its services in the chapel. From 1911 till 1948, it contained the city's vocational school for girls, a kindergarten and reidential units. In 1947 the state of Baden-Württemberg assigned the castle to the State Economics School (est. 1923) for teaching and boarding purposes. The Pedagogic Institute and School, the successor to the Economics School, moved into the castle in 1971 and has used the castle ever since.
Kirchheim Castle is one of the state's monuments and is maintained by the organization State Palaces and Gardens of Baden-Württemberg. The grand living spaces on the south side of the second floor are set up as a palace museum and are open to the public. They are dedicated to the last two residents, Franziska and Henriette. Most of Franziska's furniture has been preserved, and this allowed the state of the castle during Franziska's days to be restored when the castle was reconditioned in 1985 and 1997.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.