The Château de Serrant is a Renaissance château built on the foundations of a medieval fortress. From the 14th century the castle was held by the Brie family. Charles de Brie was inspired to start modernisation early in the 16th century, but lack of funds meant the project was halted with only the North Tower completed.
Ownership of the castle then changed hands several times before Guillaume de Bautru, a State Councillor, purchased the property in 1636. de Bautru restarted the construction that had been halted over a century earlier. By using Charles de Brie's original plans and the same russet schist and white tuffeau stone, de Bautru ensured that there was a continuity of design. The central halls, two wings and the South Tower were added, with Jules Hardouin Mansart completing the work of de Bautru by building the chapel.
In 1749, the estate was sold by the last surviving descendant of the de Bautru family and was bought by Antoine Walsh, a shipowner whose family were exiled Jacobites. As well as redecorating the interior of the castle, the Walsh family built an English style park, pavilions, and a monumental gate complete with the family crest. The château eventually passed out of the hands of the Walsh family in 1830 when Valentine Walsh de Serrant married the Duc de La Trémoïlle. La Trémoïlle assigned Luciene Magne the task of restoring the castle and several features, including parapets and cornices, were added. The La Trémoïlle family still own the château, but in the 20th century it has been modernised with cellars and the introduction of electricity.
The castle is notable for the library, stocked with 12,000 books; the vaulted halls, originally home to the kitchens; and Napoleon's bedroom, which was never used by the Emperor as he stayed at the castle for only two hours.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.