Porta Sempione is a city gate of Milan. The gate is marked by a landmark triumphal arch called Arco della Pace ('Arch of Peace'), dating back to the 19th century, although its origins can be traced back to a gate of the Roman walls of Milan.
A gate that roughly corresponds to modern Porta Sempione was already part of Roman walls of Milan. At the time, the gate was meant to control an important road leading to what is now Castelseprio. Very little remains of the original Roman structure; some Roman tombstones that used to be placed by the outer side of the walls have been employed in the construction of later buildings such as the Basilica of Saint Simplician.
In the Middle Ages, part of the Roman walls in the Porta Sempione area were adapted as part of the new walls. The gate itself was moved north, in a place that is now occupied by the Sforza Castle. The Castle itself was completed in the 15th Century, under Duke Filippo Maria Visconti, and the gate itself became part of the Castle.
In 1807, under the Napoleonic rule, the Arch of Peace was built by architect Luigi Cagnola. This new gate marked the place where the new Strada del Sempione entered Milan. This road, which is still in use today, connects Milan to Paris through the Simplon Pass crossing the Alps. At the time, the gate was still called 'Porta Giovia'. When the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy fell and Milan was conquered by the Austrian Empire, the gate was not yet completed, and the construction was abandoned for a while.
The construction of the Arch was resumed, again by Cagnola, in 1826, for Emperor Francis II, who dedicated the monument to the 1815 Congress of Vienna. When Cagnola died in 1833, his project was taken over by Francesco Londonio and Francesco Peverelli, who brought it to completion in 1838.
The gate was the scene of several prominent events in the Milanese history of the 19th century. On 22 March 1848, the Austrian army led by marshal Josef Radetzky escaped from Milan through Porta Giovia after being defeated in the Five Days of Milan rebellion. On 8 June 1859, four days after the Battle of Magenta, Napoleon III and Victor Emmanuel II of Italy triumphally entered Milan through the gate.
Porta Sempione is neoclassical triumphal arch, 25 m high and 24 m wide, decorated with a number of bas-reliefs, statues, and corinthian columns. Many of such decorations, especially bas-reliefs, are dedicated to major events in the history of Italy and Europe, such as the Battle of Leipzig, the foundation of the Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia, the Congress of Vienna. Other decorations have classical mythology subjects such as Mars, Ceres, Minerva, Apollo, and Victoria-Nike. There are also a group of statues that are allegories of major rivers in North Italy such as the Po, the Adigeand the Ticino. At the sides of the Arch of Peace there are two minor rectangular buildings that used to be the customs office.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.