The two-storey Gomel palace of Field Marshal Pyotr Rumyantsev was built between 1777 and 1796 to a Neoclassical design attributed to Ivan Starov. The palace replaced the ruined castle of Gomel's previous owner, Michael Frederick Czartoryski. The central part is surmounted by a square belvedere with a wide flat dome. The six-columned Corinthian portico faces an extensive English park. The main portico is placed on a high platform and is supported by four Corinthian columns.
After Pyotr Rumyantsev's death in 1796, the grounds were slowly improved by his son Nicholas (1754-1826). His brother Sergei was the next owner. He was never interested in country housekeeping and promptly sold the palace to the crown (1834). Gomel was immediately purchased by another Field Marshal, Ivan Paskevich, who had both the palace and the park substantially renovated. He employed architect Adam Idźkowski to add a four-storey tower and a three-storey wing to the existing structure.
After the Russian Revolution the palace was nationalized to house a local museum. Paskevich's daughter-in-law Irina had to move from the palace into an ordinary flat. The buildings sustained heavy damage in the Russian Civil War and World War II. They were shared by the Gomel History Museum and the local pioneers' palace until the late 1990s. The current Neoclassical interiors result from a late 1990s restoration campaign.
The park contains a modern statue of Count Nikolay Rumyantsev. The original marble statues of Euripides, Venus, Athena, Ares, Bacchus, and the Nymph were lost. It was only in 2006 that the replacement statues were put in place. The Paskevich art collection also boasted several paintings by Ivan Kramskoi, Marcin Zaleski, and January Suchodolski, as well as a marble bust of Count Rumyantsev by Antonio Canova.
The bronze equestrian statue of Prince Joseph Poniatowski by Bertel Thorvaldsen, which Paskevich had brought from Warsaw as a trophy in 1842, was dismantled by the Poles during the Polish-Soviet War and transported back to Warsaw, only to be destroyed by the Germans in the 1940s. Its copy stands in front of the Presidential Palace, Warsaw.
Other buildings on the grounds are the Russian Revival chapel with the tombs of Ivan Paskevich and his family, a winter garden (which originated as Prince Paskevich's sugar-mill), several subsidiary outbuildings, and a set of cannons captured by Paskevich's soldiers in the course of the Russo-Turkish War (1828–1829).
By far the most conspicuous landmark in the park is the Neoclassical church of Sts. Peter and Paul. It was commissioned by Count Nikolay Rumyantsev from architect John Clark in 1809 but was not consecrated until 1824. The church is the seat of the local Orthodox bishopric.
An image of the residence is featured on the Belarusian 20,000-ruble bill.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.