Merchiston Tower was probably built by Alexander Napier, the second Laird of Merchiston around 1454. It serves as the seat for Clan Napier. It is perhaps most notable for being the home of John Napier, the 8th Laird of Merchiston, inventor of logarithms who was born there in 1550.
Merchiston was probably built as a country house, but its strategic position and the turbulent political situation required it to be heavily fortified – with some walls as much as six feet thick – and it was frequently under siege. During restoration in the 1960s, a 26-pound cannonball was found embedded in the Tower, thought to date from the struggle in 1572 between Mary, Queen of Scots, and supporters of her son, James VI.
In 1930 the property became to the ownership of The Merchant Company, who used nearby playing fields for George Watson's College, which was soon itself to move nearby. Then in 1935 the tower passed to Edinburgh City Council. It remained unoccupied (except for war service) until 1956, when it was suggested as the centrepiece of a new technical college. Restoration work began in 1958, highlights of which were the discovery of the entrance drawbridge and the preservation of an original seventeenth-century plaster ceiling. It now stands at the centre of Napier University’s Merchiston campus.
The Tower is an interesting and elaborate example of the medieval tower house, being built on the familiar 'L' plan with a wing projecting to the north. It was originally vaulted at the second floor and the roof. Among several remarkable features is the unusual elaboration of the main entrance, which is at second floor level in the south front. The tall shallow recess in which the doorway is set undoubtedly housed a drawbridge which must have rested upon an outwork some 14 feet above ground level and 10 feet from the Tower.
Shortly after being let to Merchiston Castle School it was considerably altered with the addition of a castellated Gothic-style two-story extension and a basement, which has since been removed.
Napier University has taken out large sections of wall on the northern extension to accommodate a corridor which runs through the Castle to other campus buildings.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.