Sieraków Castle was built at the end of the 14th century on the initiative of the Nałęcz family. Maćko Borkowic, the Poznań voivode or his daughter Wichna, most probably began the process, and her grandson Wincenty continued it. In the middle of the 15th century Sieraków received Łukasz Górka coat of arms Łodzia, who rebuilt the castle. In 1571 it was taken over by the starost Jakub Rokossowski, and in 1591 Sieraków bought the castellan Jan of Bnin Opaliński, who raised the castle houses and converted them into a baroque residence. In 1763 castle and estate were bought by the baron Piotr Mikołaj Neugarten von Gartenberg, using the Polish name Sadogórski, and probably during his time demolition of the northern wing was carried, leaving only the southern wing. In 1829 in relation with the construction of a new road, the remains of the castle were demolished. Only the south wing survived. In 1991 it was decided to restore the remains of the castle and to put in it the tombs of the Opalinsk family. Construction work lasted two years. In the lack of the sources of the castle’s appearance, it was decided to reconstruct the southern range only.
The castle was east of the town and was separated from it by a moat. It stood on a regular, artificial mound. Its defenses was increased by the river, surrounding from the south. The earliest phase is connected with the emergence of brick curtain walls with the gate from the east. From the south, a residential range, initially timber or half-timber framed, was located. In the 15th century a brick north range with a width of 8 meters was erected with characteristic corner buttreses. At the same time, or slightly later, a new southern building of similar dimensions was constructed. Another redevelopment introduced new partition walls and a shorter west range connector.
Today, in the rebuilt south range of the castle, there is a museum which expositions present the history of the Sieraków Region from the earliest to the present. Particular attention should be paid to the tombs of the Opalińsk family, discovered in 1991 in the crypt of the church of St. Bernard.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.