Cremona Cathedral bell tower is the famous Torrazzo, symbol of the city and tallest pre-modern tower in Italy. Also adjoining is the baptistery, another important medieval monument.
Originally built in Romanesque style, the cathedral has been restored and extended several times, with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements. Construction began in 1107, but the works were damaged and halted after an earthquake in 1117. Construction resumed in 1129, and the building was probably finished in 1160-1170. The main altar, dedicated to the city's patron saints Archelaus and Himerius, was consecrated in 1196.
The current façade was probably built in the 13th and the early 14th century. In the same period the arms of the transept were also added: the northern in 1288 and the southern in 1348.
The main façade, together with the adjoining baptistery, is one of the most important monuments of Romanesque art in Europe. It has a portico with a narthex in the middle, to which a Renaissance loggia with three niches was added in 1491. This is surmounted by a large rose window, flanked by two orders of loggette ('small loggias').
The portal is probably from the early 12th century. On its side are the figures of the Four Major Prophets, each bearing a roll with the text of their prophecies. The narthex was made by masters from Campione in the following century: it incorporates an older frieze portraying the Labours of the Months (late 12th century, inspired by that in the Baptistery of Parma). The four statues on the upper loggia, portraying the Madonna with Child and two bishops, are of the Tuscan school (1310). The columns of the narthex stand on two lions in Verona marble. The left one is holding a dragon, symbol of Evil, in his paws, while the right one is holding a bear, which in turn is biting a bird's neck.
The oldest are the frescoes of the Stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph in the southern and northern transept vaults (late 14th-early 15th century). Also from the Renaissance are the arch of the Stories of the Martyrs Marius and Marta, Audifax and Habakkuk, martyrs in Persia (best known as Arch of the Persian Martyrs, 1482), and the relief of Saint Himerius (1481-1484), both works by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo. Also notable is the urn of Saints Marcellinus and Peter, sculpted mostly by Benedetto Briosco (1506-1513), in the crypt.
The wooden choir, with inlay work by Platina (1482-1490), and the contemporary large altar cross in silver and gold, by Ambrogio Pozzi and Agostino Sacchi (1478), in the right aisle of the northern transept, are also notable.
The most important figurative complex of the cathedral is the fresco decoration on the side walls of the nave (early 16th century), portraying the Life of Mary and Christ. Different painters collaborated to its execution: the first was Boccaccio Boccaccino (with Annunciation to Joachim and Jesus with the Doctors), who, in 1506, had already painted a Redemeer with Cremona's Patron Saints in the apse vault. He was succeeded by Giovan Francesco Bembo (Epiphany and Presentation at the Temple) and Altobello Melone (Flight to Egypt, Massacre of the Innocents and the first four panels of the Passion of Christ), who both adopted a less classicist style. Next came Girolamo Romanino, author of the scenes from Jesus before Pilatus to Ecce Homo, who painted some of his masterworks here.References:
The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.
The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.
Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.
Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.
The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.
During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.
In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.