The Presidential Palace (Prezidentūra) is the official office and eventual official residence of the President of Lithuania. The palace dates back to the 14th century and during its history it has undergone various reconstructions, supervised by prominent architects, including Laurynas Gucevičius and Vasily Stasov. In 1997 the palace became the official seat of the President of Lithuania.
The Palace traces its history back to the 14th century, when Jogaila, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, issued an edict donating land in the city to the Vilnius Diocese, for this reason the palace is sometimes referred to as the Bishops' Palace. Construction of the Palace took place in the late 14th century under the auspices of the first Bishop of Vilnius Andrzej Jastrzębiec, and over succeeding generations, the building was gradually enlarged and renovated. During the Renaissance, the Palace was once again renovated, and parks and gardens surrounding the building were expanded.
As the 18th century unfolded, a number of dramatic events in the Palace's history took place: the last Bishop of Vilnius lived in the Palace, Lithuania was annexed by the Russian Empire, and the building itself was badly damaged by two major fires in 1737 and 1748. The Palace was reconstructed in 1750 under the supervision of the architect Laurynas Gucevičius. After its reconstruction, the Palace was used as a residence for emperors, kings and noblemen. During 1796, Tsar Paul I lived at the Palace. During the course of the 19th century, the Palace served as a residence for several Imperial Russian governors. It was also visited by the future King of France, Louis XVIII in 1804.
In 1812, both the Russian Tsar Alexander I and the French Emperor Napoleon used the Palace as their residence. During Napoleon's invasion of Russia, he organized military operations and Lithuanian army units from this Palace, including five regiments of infantry, four cavalry regiments, and the National Guard of Vilnius. After Napoleon's defeat in 1812, the Palace was used for ceremonial proposes. During 1824-1834, the Palace was reconstructed by the prominent St. Petersburg architect Vasily Stasov in the Empire style, under supervision of Karol Podczaszyński. Stasov's reconstruction of the Palace has remained to this day.
After Lithuania regained its independence in 1918, the Palace housed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ELTA news agency until it ended up in Poland in 1920. It was restored in the 1930s by Stefan Narębski. After the Second World War, the Palace served as the Military Officers' Centre; later it housed various Lithuanian artists. The Palace was gradually adapted for use as a presidential office, and since 1997 it has served as the official office of the President of Lithuania. Currently, adaptations are underway to expand the palace's functions to also serve as the president's official residence. A flag displaying the coat of arms of the President is hoisted when the President is present in the Palace or in the city.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.