Villa Monastero, located on the shore of Lake Como, includes a botanical garden, a museum, and a convention center. Villa Monastero is an eclectic villa built in the Nordic style. The site was originally a Cistercian convent, founded at the end of the 12th century in Varenna, which now lies beneath the modern building. The convent grew in importance and wealth, purchasing many properties, especially around Lierna, but eventually declined to only six mothers, and was closed by papal bull in 1567.
The whole estate was purchased by Paolo Mornico in 1569, using his fortune amassed through iron mining in Valsassinia. In the 17th century the Mornico family incrementally rebuilt and decorated it in the eclectic style.
Walter Kees of Leipzig bought the villa in the 1890s, and between 1897 and 1909 carried out modifications which give its current style. Some of the architects involved include Emilio Alemagna, Achille Majnoni, and Enrico Citterio, the construction itself was overseen by G. Bertarini of Varenna. The final phase of construction expanded the garden, with the cooperation of Enrico Achler of Menaggio.
In 1936 the Milanese De Marchi family, originally from Switzerland, donated the villa to the public and it became a museum. In 1940 the gardens were opened to the public, and in 1953 the conference center was created.
A museum house was set up within Villa Monastero, and opened to the public in 2003. The monumental part of the house was already completed by 1996, with 14 rooms featuring original decorations and furniture from its various owners. The museum house also contains a collection of optical, electronic, and mechanical instruments originally belonging to Giovanni Polvani.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.