Hartheim Castle was built by Jakob von Aspen in 1600, and it is a prominent Renaissance castle in the country. The building became notorious as one of the Nazi Euthanasia killing centers, where the killing program Action T4 took place.
Until the middle of the 14th century the site consisted mainly of just one tower, subsequently a residence was added and it was surrounded by a small wall with ramparts and ditches. After changing hands several times the castle ended up in the possession of the Aspen family, who probably built the castle into its present shape. At the beginning of the 1690s they had a completely new castle built conforming to perceptions of the ideal Renaissance style with a regular four-winged building with four polygonal corner towers and a higher central tower.
In 1799 George Adam, Prince of Starhemberg, purchased the castle. But by 1862 the castle was in a rather poor condition. In 1898 Camillo Henry, Prince of Starhemberg, made a present of the castle building, the outbuildings and some land to the Upper Austrian State Welfare Society.
Following Hitler's euthanasia decree in 1939, Hartheim was selected as one of six euthanasia centres in the Reich. Between May 1940 and December 1944, approximately 18,000 people physically and mentally disabled were killed at Schloss Hartheim by gassing and lethal injection as part of the T-4 Euthanasia Program. These included about twelve thousand prisoners from the Dachau and Mauthausen concentration camps who were sent here to be gassed, as were hundreds of women sent from Ravensbrück concentration camp in 1944, predominantly sufferers of TB and those deemed mentally infirm. The castle was regularly visited by the psychiatrists Karl Brandt, Professor of Psychiatry at Würzburg University, and Werner Heyde. In December 1944 Schloss Hartheim was closed as an extermination centre and restored as a sanatorium after being cleared of evidence of the crimes committed therein.
After World War II, the building was converted into apartments. Beginning in 1969, the gas chamber was opened to visitors. Hartheim Castle is now a Memorial Site dedicated to the thousands of physically and mentally handicapped persons who were murdered here by the Nazis.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.