The Royal Palace of El Pardo is a historic building near Madrid, in the present-day district of Fuencarral-El Pardo. It is owned by the Spanish state and administered by the Patrimonio Nacional agency.
The palace began as a royal hunting lodge. It became an alternative residence of the kings of Spain until the reign of King Alfonso XII of Spain, who died in the palace in 1885.
King Henry III of Castile ordered the building of the pavilion in 1406, on Mount El Pardo, because of its abundant game. Later, in the time of Emperor Charles V (1547), it was transformed into a palace by the architect Luis de Vega. On 13 March 1604, a massive fire destroyed many of the paintings, including masterpieces by Titian. King Charles III of Spain renovated the building in the 18th century, appointing his architect Francesco Sabatini to undertake the job. It was newly transformed in the 20th century, doubling in size with the construction of an identical copy of the original structure to the east.
The interior decoration includes a ceiling frescoed by Gaspar Becerra, and paintings by Vincenzo Carducci and Cabrera.
In 1739 the palace hosted talks between the governments of Britain and Spain, who eventually agreed to the Convention of Pardo in a bid to avert a war. However, the Convention failed to prevent war breaking out shortly afterwards.
Generalissimo Francisco Franco lived in the palace after the Spanish Civil War. Since Franco's death, it has been used as a residence for visiting heads of state.
The Palace of Zarzuela forms part of the complex of residences at the site.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.