The Žiče Charterhouse was a Carthusian monastery founded between 1155 and 1165 by Ottokar III of Styria, the Margrave of Styria. It was the first Carthusian monastery in the German sphere of influence of the time, and also the first outside France or Italy. The monastery also had one of the first pharmacies in what is now Slovenia.
The monastery was settled by Carthusian monks from the Grande Chartreuse in France, which also financed the construction. As with French charterhouses, two monasteries were built here: the upper one, where the cloister monks lived according to the strict rule of the Carthusians, and the lower one in the village of Špitalič for the lay monks, who spent less time in prayer and worked as craftsmen, supporting the upper monastery and contributing to its prosperity. The monastery church dedicated to Saint John the Baptist was consecrated on 24 October 1190 by Patriarch Berthold of Aquileia.
At the time of the Great Schism in the western Roman Catholic church in the 14th century, the Žiče Charterhouse became the seat of the Prior General of the Carthusian order for a while in 1391.
The monastery was attacked during an Ottoman raid in 1531. This marked the beginning of a decline in its influence and fortunes. In 1564 it passed into the hands of commendatory abbots and in 1591 to the Jesuits of Graz. It was recovered by the Carthusians in 1593, after which it prospered again. In 1782 Emperor Joseph II abolished the monastery, one of the earliest to be dissolved under the Josephine Reforms.
The charterhouse was allowed to fall into decay. The ruins were bought from the religious foundation in 1826 by Prince Weriand of Windisch-Graetz and remained the property of this family until the end of World War II. Now the owner is the Municipality of Slovenske Konjice.
Today the charterhouse is an important cultural monument with about 20,000 visitors per year. Reconstruction work under expert supervision is still in progress. Just outside the charterhouse is the GastuÅ¾ Inn, purporting to be the oldest inn on Slovenian territory (dating to 1467).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.