According to tradition, the church was dedicated to St. Mark, patron of Venice, after the help given by that city in the war against Frederick Barbarossa in the 12th century. However, the first mention of the church dates from 1254 when the Augustinians built a Gothic style edifice with a nave and two aisles re-using pre-existing constructions.
The structure was heavily modified in the Baroque style during the 17th century, when it became the largest church in the city after the Duomo di Milano.
In early 1770, the young Mozart resided in the monastery of San Marco for three months and, on May 22, 1874, the first anniversary of the death of the Milanese poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni was commemorated in the church by the first performance of Verdi's Requiem, written in his honour.
The façade dates from an 1871 restoration by Carlo Maciachini, who kept the marble portal with tympanum, a gallery of small arches, the rose window and three statues of saints attributed to Giovanni di Balduccio or the Master of Viboldone. In the lunette is a mosaic representing the Madonna between Saints, a copy of the original by Angelo Inganni.
The campanile dates from the 14th century. It was restored and completed in 1885. The interior, in the Baroque style, has a nave and two aisles.
In the first chapel on the right are frescoes by Gian Paolo Lomazzo. In the right transept is a fresco by the Fiammenghini with Alexander IV Instituting the Order of the Augustinians, under which a 14th-century Crucifixion was discovered in 1956. The author of the latter has been identified by Anovelo da Imbonate. The right arms of the transept houses also several sarcophagi from the mid-14th century, including the tomb of Lanfranco Settalo, counsellor of Archbishop Giovanni Visconti, by Giovanni di Balduccio.
Near the rear exit is a 16th-century tombstone portraying the Angel of the Resurrection, another fresco by the Fiammenghini (under which is a 14th-century fresco). On the side walls of the presbytery are the Dispute of St. Ambrose and St. Augustine by Camillo Procaccini and the Baptism of St. Augustine by Giovanni Battista Crespi.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.