The Royal Palace of Riofrío is one of the residences of Spain's royal family. Situated in the municipality of San Ildefonso, in the province of Segovia, central Spain, the building is set in a wooded deer-park.
Queen Elisabeth Farnese was widowed in 1746, her husband King Philip V being succeeded by Ferdinand VI, her step-son. As such, to ensure that Elisabeth would remain away from the court, King Ferdinand VI agreed to the construction of a palace at Riofrío for her own disposal. During the reign of her step-son, the queen resided at the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso.
The palace was designed in the Italian style, echoing Elisabeth's birth in the Duchy of Parma, northern Italy. It was designed with a central square and was given three stories high, designed by architect Virgilio Rabaglio, himself Swiss from Gandria near Lugano. Rabaglio was responsible for the exterior decoration Sexmini Pedro, making it one of the most influential Italian palaces of all time.
The dowager queen had wanted her son, then King Carlo VIII of Naples to succeed the Spanish throne. However, before the works were completed, King Ferdinand VI died childless in August 1759 and was thus succeeded by King Carlo VIII, who was recognised as King Carlos III of Spain. Elisabeth was created regent till her sons arrival in Spain and subsequently resided at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, dying there in 1766 having never lived at Riofrío. Elisabeth had succeeded in placing four of her children on thrones and intended to give the property to her youngest son, Infante Luis, Count of Chinchón, however he did not use it.
Having been abandoned, it was completed as a hunting lodge and was only used when royalty hunted in the nearby forests. Maria Josepha Amalia of Saxony resided there to avoid the courts disapproval of her childless marriage to King Ferdinand VII. The palace was also used by King Francis, consort of Queen Isabel II to avoid his wife and used later still by King Alfonso XII, who resided there while mourning his beloved wife Queen Maria de las Mercedes. Points of interest within the palace include the patio addition, grand staircase, chapel along with its collection of paintings, tapestries and furniture. It is surrounded by a vast forest of 625 hectares, home to deer among other animals. Today Riofrío is the home of a museum dedicated to the history of hunting.
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.