Situated in the Prahova Valley, the Sinaia Monastery gave its name to the nearby town of Sinaia. Prince (Spătarul) Mihail Cantacuzino founded the monastery upon his return from a pilgrimage to Mount Sinai. The first buildings were completed between 1690 and 1695. It was designed to serve as a monastery as well as a fortified stronghold on the route from Brasov to Bucharest.
In the midst of the Russo–Turkish War, 1735–1739, before deserting the monastery, monks hid the valuables by burying them inside a bell. During a battle, the Turks defeated troops stationed within the walls of the monastery. The Ottomans burned the area and broke through the wall in two places.
Until 1850, Sinaia consisted of little more than the monastery and a group of huts. In 1864, however, the monastic estate was assigned to the Board of Civil Hospitals (Eforia Spitalelor Civile), which opened a hospital and several baths, and helped develop mineral springsin Sinaia.
The monastery consists of two courtyards surrounded by low buildings. In the centre of each courtyard there is a small church built in the Byzantine style. One of them—'Biserica Veche' (The Old Church)—dates from 1695, while the more recent 'Biserica Mare' (The Great Church) was built in 1846.
The monks possess a library that is a repository for valuable jewels belonging to the Cantacuzino family, as well as the earliest Romanian translation of the Bible, dated 1668.
In 1895 the museum of the monastery was opened, the first exhibition of religious objects in Romania. It holds collections of icons and crosses from the 17th century, the very first Bible in Romanian (Bucharest, 1688), and many other precious objects.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.