The iconic glory-piece at the centre of Kraków’s market square, there is proof that a structure of some sort has existed on the site of the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) since the mid-13th century. Originally resembling two rows of stone trading stalls with a thoroughfare running between them, a roof was erected over them around 1300 before King Kazimierz the Great approved the construction of a purpose-built trading hall in the mid-14th century. As a result, Kraków’s importance as an east-west trading post increased; though the name ‘Sukiennice’ refers specifically to the trade of textiles and fabrics, Kraków’s Cloth Hall saw an array of commodities bought and sold in its merchant stalls including wax, spices, leather and silk, as well as lead and salt from the nearby Wieliczka mines.After a fire destroyed the building in the mid-16th century, the Sukiennice underwent a Renaissance facelift overseen by Jan Maria Padovano (1493-1574) featuring brilliantly deformed gargoyles by the Italian-Polish sculptor Santi Gucci on the façade. At this time the Cloth Hall was probably the most magnificent building in all of Kraków. By the mid-1870s, however, Poland had been partitioned for nearly a century and the Cloth Hall was in a rather decrepit state. Between 1875-79, while the city was part of Austro-Hungarian-controlled Galicia, many of the outbuildings were torn down and the neo-Gothic colonnades and outside arcades were added by Tomasz Pryliński, a student of Jan Matejko. The interior was converted into a series of wooden stalls and on October 7th, 1879 the Kraków City Council voted to give half of the upper floor of the Cloth Hall over to the creation of the first Polish National Museum. It quickly became the focal point for a huge celebration of Polish patriotism attracting Poles from all three partitions as well as those from self-imposed exiles abroad.