The Cave of Hercules is a subterranean vaulted space dating back to Roman times located in the alley of San Ginés. The cave is under the Church of San Ginés.
The structure was likely constructed in the time of the Roman Empire, probably towards the second half of the 1st century, when it was used as a water reservoir. It is located in the east corner of the current courtyard and was built in two construction phases. It was covered with a barrel vault, realized in ashlar, and displayed the aspect of a great tank to the open sky, with an overflow at the edge. The first half of the wall, made in Roman concrete and covered with Opus signinum, is preserved, and overlooks San Ginés alley.
The structure was deeply altered with the construction of an arcade of three arches of ashlars in the southwest side. This divides the primitive one in two and currently separates it from the other half of the deposit, belonging to No. 2 of San Ginés street. It is unknown whether this change occurred in the first or second phase of construction. The second half of the northeast wall that faces the street was constructed in the second Roman phase. A facade was built in Opus quadratum of seven rows of ashlars of varying size, which is attached to the northeast lateral wall of the hydraulic structure of the first phase. The size was increased from the northwest to the southeast by creating a new line of orientation to the wall, which is the one that generates the trapezoidal plant that will have the nave. In this space, different rupture interfaces are observed along the entire surface.
In the Visigothic era, it is probable that there was a Visigothic church on the property. In the Al-Andalus period, constructions were developed, probably a mosque, in whose walls were embedded Visigothic reliefs. This mosque followed a structure similar to others of the city, being a small oratory with practically square plant, four interior columns and nine vaults or domes.
The first references to this property as the church of San Ginés come from 1148. At the end of this Late medieval epoch, or the beginning of the Early modern age, a series of changes were made, such as the creation of five individual chapels.
The building deteriorated during a prolonged period of the Early modern era. Abandoned and closed to the public during the 18th century, the church was demolished in 1841. The wall of the entrance, where several Visigothic reliefs are embedded, was partially preserved, as were the remains of the sacristy. The lot, including the vaults beneath, was put up for sale and was parceled out among several neighbors.
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.