Baranów Sandomierski Castle is one of the most important Mannerist structures in the country. The castle is commonly known as the 'little Wawel'. Originally a residency of the Lubomirski family, it now serves as a historical museum, hotel and conference centre.
The castle was built around the years 1591–1606 in the style of Poland's Mannerism with richly decorated attics, side towers and arcade courtyard for Andrzej and Rafał Leszczyński (1526–1592) of the Wieniawa coat of arms. It is believed to be the work of a famous Italian architect, Santi Gucci, the court artist of king Stephen Báthory. In about 1620 the castle was surrounded by bastion fortifications and in 1625 its chambers were adorned with early Baroque decorations executed by the eminent stucco decorator Giovanni Battista Falconi.
By the end of the 17th century, the castle came into the possession of the Lubomirski family through marriage. Prince Józef Karol Lubomirski wedded its owner, Princess Teofila Ludwika Zasławska in 1683, and rebuilt her principal residence by way of commissioning the royal Dutch-Polish architect Tylman van Gameren (Tylman Gamerski) from the court of Jan III Sobieski, who converted the castle, added the western wing gallery and embellished the interiors with profuse late-baroque stucco decorations. The gallery housed their collection of art. Notably, almost two centuries later, all works of art were destroyed in massive fires, first in 1848 (with the entire library) under Krasicki family and finally in 1898 under Dolańskis.
Castle in Baranów Sandomierski passed successively into the possession of families: Wiśniowiecki, Sanguszko, Lubomirski, Małachowski, Potocki and Krasicki. In 1867 it was acquired by Feliks Dolański. The structure was restored by subsequent owner Stanisław Dolański after a fire in 1898. Under the direction of Kraków architect Tadeusz Stryjeński some changes were carried out in the layout. During this reconstruction one of the chambers on the ground floor was adopted as chapel and decorated in art nouveau style. Stained-glass windows by Józef Mehoffer and an altar with a painting of Jacek Malczewski Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception were major features of the interior. The castle remained in the possession of the Dolański family till the outbreak of World War II. Due to war damages the castle was renovated by the State in the years 1959–1969.References:
The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.
According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.
In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.
The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.
The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.
In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.
The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.