The Jasna Góra Monastery is the most famous Polish shrine to the Virgin Mary and the country's greatest place of pilgrimage – for many its spiritual capital. The image of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, also known as Our Lady of Częstochowa, to which miraculous powers are attributed, is Jasna Góra's most precious treasure. The site is one of Poland's official national Historic Monuments.
Founded in 1382 by Pauline monks who came from Hungary at the invitation of Władysław, Duke of Opole. The monastery has been a pilgrimage destination for hundreds of years, and it contains the most important icon of the Virgin Mary in this part of Europe. The icon, depicting the Mother of God with the Christ Child, is known as the Black Madonna of Częstochowa or Our Lady of Częstochowa, which is widely venerated and credited with many miracles. Among these, it is credited with miraculously saving the Jasna Góra monastery during a siege that took place at the time of The Deluge, a 17th-century Swedish invasion. The event stimulated the Polish resistance. The Poles could not immediately change the course of the war but after an alliance with the Crimean Khanate they repulsed the Swedes. Shortly thereafter, in the cathedral of Lviv, on April 1, 1656, Jan Kazimierz, the King of Poland, solemnly pronounced his vow to consecrate the country to the protection of the Mother of God and proclaimed Her the Patron and Queen of the lands in his kingdom.
Since the Middle Ages, every year thousands of Poles go in pilgrim groups to visit Jasna Góra. There are typically numerous pilgrims and tourists at Jasna Góra Monastery, and the volume of excited voices can be high. However, upon entering the Monastery, it is expected etiquette for visitors to be silent or as quiet as possible out of respect. Often, there is a long line of people who wait to approach the shrine of Our Lady. Upon arriving at the location of the shrine where one would pass in front of the icon of Our Lady, it is expected and a sign of respect for pilgrims to drop to their knees, and traverse the anterior of the shrine on their knees.References:
The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.
The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.
Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.
Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.
The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.
During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.
In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.