Around 600 BC, the city-states of Cyprus were split between those that leant towards the east and the Phoenicians, and those that were more Greek supporting. During the great wars between the Greeks and the Persians, the city-states of Cyprus were politically divided. The Phoenicians supported the Persians, and this resulted in battles between the island's kingdoms.
Battles on land and sea were waged, and in 500 BC a pro-Persian city, Marion, not only besieged Soli, but kept an eye on it by establishing a settlement on a nearby hill. This settlement was Vouni.
In 449 BC, however, the Persians were defeated by the Greeks, and the pro-Persian inhabitants of Vouni were replaced by Solians. In 391 BC, Evagoras seized the kingdom of Salamis, and attempted to extend his control to the entire island. Soli and some other cities had to ask for help from the Persians to fight against Evagoras. With the help of the Persians, Soli regained its political power.
In 380 BC, the palace which had been a continuous threat to Soli, was mysteriously destroyed by fire, and the inhabitants evacuated. Hence the history of Vouni lasts only 120 years.
In the beginning, the palace was little more than a military settlement, but after 449 BC, when Greek rule was established, the ruler of Marion was replaced by a pro-Greek prince, and Vouni became a royal palace. Excavations have shown that there were four different construction periods. The first construction was in 500BC when the core of the palace was built. It consisted of state apartments, large store rooms and bathrooms. During the Persian period, between 500 and 450BC, some minor changes were made. During the Greek rule between 450-390 BC, there were major alterations, and a second storey with mud brick walls was added. Further minor alterations were made between 390 and 380 BC.
The palace complex you see today is made up of three terraces. The highest point has the Athena shrine. Very little remains of this.
The middle terrace has the palace and religious buildings. The palace is believed to have had 137 rooms. There is a fountain in the middle of the courtyard, which is surrounded on three sides by rooms. The water needs of the palace were fulfilled by storing rain water in numerous cisterns which dot the site.
The large standing stone stele standing by the cistern in the courtyard was designed to hold a windlass, and is believed to have been brought here from elsewhere. This stone has become the symbol of Vouni. There are also food storage rooms where amphorae were found. Most of the rooms on the eastern side are used for storage, but baths were also found on this side. These baths are some of the earliest examples of fully equipped Roman baths.
The lower terrace faces the sea, and contains houses with stone bases and mud brick upper storeys which housed most of the residents. The excavations in the 1920s unearthed a baked clay cup, blackened by the fire which destroyed the palace. In addition, gold and silver bracelets, silver bowls, and hundreds of coins bearing the stamps of Marion, Kiton, Lapithos and Paphos were discovered.
From the palace, you can see the small island of Petra Tou Limnidi. This is one of the oldest places in Cyprus to be inhabited, and was excavated at the same time as Vouni. Archaeologists found items going back to the Neolithic age, consisting of bone needles, stone utensils, farming tools , and sculptures.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.