The first mention of the Ludza Castle dates from 1433 when the Livonian Order built a large and strong fortress to replace an earlier wooden fortress built by the ancient Latgalians. The Ludza stone castle had three stories, six towers, three gates and two foreparts. It was built as an outpost for the Livonian order, mainly to strengthen the eastern border of Livonia and guard trade routes from Russia.
In 1481 the Russians invaded Livonia, occupied and devastated the castle. Only the 1525 through improved relations with the Grand Duchy of Moscow, the Livonian Order rebuilt the castle only to see it destroyed again in 1654 by Russian troops under orders from the Russian tsar Aleksey. At the start of the Livonian War in 1558, German troops attacked Krasnij Gorodok and destroyed a number of parishes in Pskov. In the same year Maskavijas troops of Gregory Temkina occupied the castle, but suffering defeat, he was forced to abandon his conquest.
In 1577 Livonia was once again invaded by Russian troops under the guidance of Ivan IV Vasilyevich and the castle was sacked. The following year the Order had Ludza castle with some others in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania mortgaged, and in 1561 asked the castle to be included in the Inflantia. In 1582 the castle returned to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
During the Polish-Swedish War in 1625 the Swedish army occupied the castle, but the Polish-Lithuania Commonwealth soon got it back. In the Russian-Polish War in 1654 the Russian Voivoda Lev Saltikovs surrounded Ludza and the castle surrendered. According to a decision of the Polish Sejm in 1667, only the Daugavpils castle was maintained and other defenses, including Ludza castle, was neglected. After that the castle was abandoned and left in ruins.
Nowadays the impressive fragments of the castle walls, including a three-floor high fragment, still remain. The ruins are the main tourist attraction in the Ludza District, and is considered a symbol of the town.References:
Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.
Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.
It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.
Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.
Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.
The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.
The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.
With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.
Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.