Amiens Cathedral is one of the largest classic 13th century Gothic churches. It is notable for the coherence of its plan, the beauty of its three-tier interior elevation, and the particularly fine display of sculptures on the principal facade and in the south transept.
Amiens Cathedral was originally built in 1152 in Romanesque style and destroyed by fire in 1218. Reconstruction was started around 1220 and the nave was completed around 1245. Reconstruction of the choir started began around 1238 and completed before 1269, and the most of this part of the building, including the transept, was completed in 1288. Thanks to technical progress, the experience gained from other building sites and the speed at which it was constructed, Notre-Dame of Amiens has a very rare uniform style. The height of the ceiling is about 42.3 m and the width of the nave is about 14.6 m. The cathedral, erected on the plans of Robert de Luzarches, consists of a nave with aisles and lateral chapels, a transept with aisles, and a choir (with deambulatory) ending in an apse surrounded by chapels. The south tower was constructed about 1366 and the north tower about 1401.
The French Revolution left the edifice, which has undergone only minor restorations, practically untouched. In 1849 onwards, Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (1814-79) arranged and repaired the gallery over the rose window of the west facade and the top of the north tower.
The facade, which is flanked by two square towers without spires, has three portals decorated with a profusion of statuary, the central portal having a remarkable 13th-century statue of Christ; they are surmounted by two galleries, the upper one containing 22 statues of the kings of Judah in its arcades, and by a rose window. A slender spire rises above the crossing. The southern portal is remarkable for a figure of the Virgin and other statuary. The light inside the cathedral is also exceptional owing to the extremely high vaults, the large number of openings, and the glazed triforium above the choir and transept.
Inside the cathedral shows the sign of the new way of mature Gothic design such as the triforium of the choir, which was glazed with stained glass. Originally the triforium of the nave as well as the choir was to be fitted by stained glass, but it was eventually walled for structural reasons, owing to the 3m increase in the height of the nave.
The coherence of its plan, the beauty of its three-tier interior elevation, and the application of an extremely scholarly sculptural programme on its principal facade and the wing of the southern transept are striking. From 1292 to 1375, the cathedral was enriched by a series of chapels built between the buttresses of the side aisles. The style of the seven radiating chapels facing the double ambulatory of the choir became a model for other cathedrals. At the end of the Middle Ages, with the spire constructed above the transept crossing, the choir screen and the splendid stalls of the canons in sculpted wood, the cathedral assumed its present-day appearance.
Besides its prodigious 12th-century sculptural decor, the cathedral houses two bronze tombs, which are extremely rare testimonies to 13th-century foundry techniques: that of Geoffroy d'Eu and especially that of Edward de Foutilloy, the bishop who in 1220 undertook the reconstruction of Notre-Dame d'Amiens. Among other 14th-century works, that of the pier of Cardinal de la Grange with the statues of Andrè Beaunevau are especially notable.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.