The Basilica of Santa Maria a Pugliano is the main church in Ercolano and the oldest church in the area around Mount Vesuvius.
The church contains two pagan marble sarcophagi from the 2nd and 4th centuries AD, later adapted into Christian altars, probably in the 11th century. There are records of an oratory dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the 11th century on a hill called Pugliano. During the following centuries the church's popularity increased more and more and pilgrims flooded here from everywhere.
In the early years after the Council of Trent the church obtained formal acknowledgement of its eminence: in 1574 was first mentioned as basilica. In that century main works were made to enlarge and embellish the church. During the eruption of 1631 the churc was miraculously spared by the lava. Some years later a new street (via Pugliano) was built on the solidified lava to easily reach the church from the town centre.
The church is worth a visit for its remarkable history and art treasures: the massive 36-meter high belfry from the end of the 16th century is one of the oldest of the area. Inside the church, there are sarcophagi from the 2nd and 4th centuries AD, that prove the existence of inhabitants in the area of Herculaneum in the aftermath of the eruption in AD 79; the exquisite wooden statues of Madonna di Pugliano and Black Crucifix, both of the 14th century; the font of 1425, one of the oldest outside the cathedral of Naples; the high altar, of the 16th century; the wooden bust of St. Januarius of the 17th century, the magnificent wooden pulpit of 1685, coeval to the wooden choir and behind the altar. Most of the paintings were made by local artists in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Madonna di Pugliano is worshipped since ever, but before the statue of the 14th century the painted Byzantine-like Madonna di Ampellone was venerated. The main patronal festival is on 15 August, Assumption Day. A special worship is dedicated to St. Januarius, that is co-patron of Ercolano; the statue of the saint has always been carried in procession during the eruptions of Mt. Vesuvius toward the lava front. A bust of St. Januarius facing Mt. Vesuvius was frequently erected in villas and buildings to protect them by the fury of Mt. Vesuvius.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.