The medieval Collegiate Church of Our Lady of Mantes is a large and historically important Catholic church constructed between c.1155 and 1350. Its grandeur, its quirky design and its strong associations with the Capetian dynasty make the church particularly interesting to architectural historians.
Construction of the present church began some time between 1155 and 1170, funded by income from the Commune and by the generous support of the Crown. Building work started with the raising and reinforcing of the ground along the north of the site, where the land slopes steeply down to the river. The design was on a grand scale but with a relatively simple plan, initially featuring neither transepts nor radiating chapels (though the latter were added later). The nave was completed up to the gallery vault level by around 1190. The high vaults were in place by around 1200 with the roof completed by 1240. The western facade was completed up to the base of the towers some time before 1225. The western towers are mainly 13th century work, except for the upper parts of the north tower, which was only completed in the late 15th century. Both towers had become dangerously unstable by the mid 19th century and were substantially rebuilt to a simpler design by the local architect Alphonse Durand. Its proximity to a strategic river crossing meant that the church was at the centre of heavy aerial bombardment following the allied invasion of France in 1944. In spite of this the church survived WWII relatively unscathed, even though most of the surrounding town was flattened.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.