The Château de Lagarde is a ruined castle situated near the village of Lagarde. The first documented mention of Lagarde is from the 10th century. The first castle was a square tower with, in the corner, a circular covering tower, built in the 11th century. In the 12th century, four square towers were added as well as a rectangular gatehouse, the whole castle being linked by walls with arrowslits and crenellations.
Following the Albigensian Crusade, the castle was handed to the Lévis-Mirepoix family. In the 14th century, the structure underwent important alterations. Buildings were erected behind each façade, the roofs were raised, a drawbridge was built and the entry gate and building openings were modified. In the 16th century, a large hanging spiral staircase was built (1526) with a flamboyant Gothic vault. Also in this period, the castle was doubled in size with the addition of walls and vaults, a new moat was created with four circular bastions in the corners and the drawbridge entrance was also bastioned. 17th century modifications included the addition of monumental statues on the bastions and the staircase tower, the creation of an esplanade surrounded by fortifications in the south east, the replacement of the drawbridge by a stone bridge with a monumental gateway, and an access ramp leading from the village.
During the French Revolution, the castle was partially destroyed, but it remains today as a bold silhouette looking down over the valley. The ruins comprise several towers and curtain walls.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.