Once a royal fortress, Lauriston Castle can claim to be one of the oldest privately owned and inhabited castles in the region. By tradition, it was the stronghold of Giric, or Gregory the Great, one of the last of the Pictish kings (AD 878–889). The site of his church of Ecclesgreig is nearby and he gave his Latin name, Ciricius, to St. Cyrus.
Lauriston’s first charter is dated 1243 and it soon developed into a classic courtyard castle which was savagely fought over during Scotland's Wars of Independence and strengthened by King Edward III in 1336 as part of the chain of Plantagenet strongholds which he hoped would prevent a French landing in support of the Scots.
One of the corner towers on the edge of the cliff was incorporated into a typical laird’s house in the 1500s. In turn, this house was absorbed into a very large Georgian mansion of Palladian design, dated 1765–89.
For nearly 450 years Lauriston was held by the Stratons, whose arms of 1292 are among the earliest recorded in Scotland. In 1695, the Stratons were forced to sell Lauriston. Under the charter to the new owner, Court of Session Judge, Sir James Falconer of Phesdo, the estate became a burgh of barony, with a freeport at Miltonhaven. Over the following century, the policies were developed in fashionable Picturesque style, with waterfalls, walks and a two-acre walled garden.
Following its use as RAF barracks during World War II, part of the mansion was demolished.References:
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The photograph is of another Laurieston Castle in Edinburgh
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.