The Porto Cathedral one of the city's oldest monuments and one of the most important local Romanesque monuments.
Unlike what's often written, the current Cathedral of Porto was not built under the patronage of Bishop Hugo since the pre-Romanesque church is still mentioned in the De Expugnatione Lyxbonensias still extant in 1147. This means the present building was only started in the second half of the century and it would be constantly under works well until the 16th century (without counting later Baroque and 20th century interventions), but there is evidence that the city has been a bishopric seat since the Suevi domination in the 5th-6th centuries.
The cathedral is flanked by two square towers, each supported with two buttresses and crowned with a cupola. The façade lacks decoration and is rather architecturally heterogeneous. It shows a Baroque porch and a beautiful Romanesque rose window under a crenellated arch, giving the impression of a fortified church.
The Romanesque nave is rather narrow and is covered by barrel vaulting. It is flanked by two aisles with a lower vault. The stone roof of the central aisle is supported by flying buttresses, making the building one of the first in Portugal to use this architectonic feature.
This first Romanesque building has suffered many alterations but the general aspect of the façade has remained romanesque.
Around 1333 the Gothic funerary chapel of João Gordo was added. João was a Knight Hospitaller who worked for King Dinis I. His tomb is decorated with his recumbent figure and reliefs of the Apostles. Also from the Gothic period is the elegant cloister, built between the 14th and the 15th centuries during the reign of King John I, who married English Princess Philippa of Lancaster in Porto Cathedral in 1387.
The external appearance of the Cathedral was greatly altered during Baroque times. In 1772 a new main portal substituted the old Romanesque original and the tower cupolas were altered. In 1736 Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni added an elegant Baroque loggia to the lateral façade of the Cathedral. During the War of the Oranges whilst the battle at Amarantewas taking place a group of Spanish soldiers briefly took control of the Cathedral before being overcome by the locals of the town. A marble plaque with a Magnetite backing now hangs up behind the altar in order to remind everyone of those who lost their lives whilst regaining control of the chapel. The magnetite backing was chosen in order to remind those travelling near the cathedral by interfering with the direction in which their compass points,
The interior was also altered during the baroque era. In one of the chapels there is a magnificent silver altarpiece, built in the second half of the 17th century by Portuguese artists. Also in the 17th century the romanesque apse (which had an ambulatory) was torn down and a new one was built in baroque style, later decorated with new wall paintings by Nasoni and choir stalls. The altarpiece of the chapel, designed by Santos Pacheco and executed by Miguel Francisco da Silva between 1727 and 1729, is an important work of Portuguese Baroque.
The three red marble holy-water fonts, supported by a statue, date from the 17th century. The baptistery contains a bronze bas-relief by António Teixeira Lopes, depicting the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist.
The South transept arm gives access to the Gothic cloister, which is decorated with baroque azulejos by Valentim de Almeida (between 1729 and 1731). They depict the life of the Virgin Mary and Ovid's Metamorphoses. The remains of the Early-Romanesque ambulatory contain a few sarcophagi. The terrace is decorated with tile panels by António Vidal. The coffered ceiling of the chapter house was painted with allegories of moral values by Pachini in 1737.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.