The castle of Miranda de Ebro is located on Picota hill and offers great views of the city and the mountains that surround it. The origins of the castle date from 1358, when Tello of Castille asked the bishopric of Calahorra for the land to construct a castle at the top of the hill of La Picota, a place that was at that time occupied by the church of Santa Maria. Nevertheless, the construction did not begin until 1449, when Pedro Sarmiento occupied the church. Construction was delayed until 1485 and were directed by the expert stonecutter Juan Guas.
The fact that Miranda has been always a border region has caused the castle to witness the consequences of war on numerous occasions, and was continuously redeveloped. The most recent conflict it saw was during the War of Independence of Spain and the Carlist Wars, that left the castle in ruins. Perhaps the most important event of the fortress's history occurred during the War of Spanish Independence, when Jose Bonaparte signed the decree of use of the French currency in Spain at the castle.
In 1903, the city council, which was at the time the owner of the castle, decided to dismantle it. The stone from the castle was used for the construction of the bullring (today disappeared), the ruins of the castle were covered with earth and used as the foundations for the construction of a water tank.
Today only the north wall is visible, between the King's Battery and the Queen's Battery. Also preserved, though hidden by vegetation, is the East-West wall and a circular tower in the southwestern edge, which was probably crenellated. The entrance to the fortification was through a barbican: a small defensive system that consisted of a series of entrance halls before the front door. It also had a pit on the west side that looks towards the rest of the hill of the Picota.
The castle was constructed of ashlar masonry stone, or at least the external walls, while the rest was completed with rubble.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.