Originally, La Tour de Villa castle was comprised almost entirely of the central tower. The restoration works did not re-build the western part and the northern part, leaving instead a beautiful court yard with views over the plain. Today, the complex is made up of two well-distinct parts: one part is the 12th century tower and the other inhabited part is a semi-circular structure which dates back to the 15th century.
The tower, which has a square base, stands in the centre of the buildings situated on a rock which emerges from the ground. Long chocks are placed at the base of the walls, especially in the corners. Two doors both situated on the north side open externally: the original door has a height of 7.40m with a solid frame, the other, which is accessed via a double staircase, was opened during the restoration works of the 19th century. On the inside, the tower is divided into three floors with a wooden granary accessed by a spiral staircase. The roof of the tower is a lead platform, with battlements and a magnificent viewpoint.
The living area, which has double windows of exquisite workmanship, is spread over three floors. The following rooms are of particular interest: the reception room with its monumental hall, the Chapel, in which the paintings were due to the Artari, the hall of arms, where all the crests of the main noble families of the Aosta Valley are displayed, surmounted by the crest of the House of Savoy.
This castle was built by the Lords of La Tour de Villa. The ancestor of this lineage was Guido, cited in a pact sanctioning his alliance with the Count of Savoy for the storming of the fort of Bard in 1242. The last male descendant of the lineage was Grat Philibert de La Tour who died in 1693. The family crest is a golden lion, with red claws and tongue, rearing up on a black shield, accompanied by the motto Praecibus et Operibus (with prayers and work). The castle then was passed by inheritance to the Aymoniers and Carrels and was used for the charity fund of the Saint Laurent parish in Aosta.
Falling into ruin, the castle was sold in 1864 to a certain Vincent Carlin, who sold it, in turn, in 1885, to the Bishop of Aosta of the era, Auguste Duc, who restored it and made it his summer residence. In 1921, it was passed to the Gerbore barons of Saint-Nicolas and since 1945, has belonged to a family of Milan.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.