The Church of Saint Lazarus is a late-9th century church in Larnaca. According to Orthodox tradition, sometime after the Resurrection of Christ, Lazarus was forced to flee Judea because of rumoured plots on his life and came to Cyprus. There he was appointed by Paul and Barnabas as the first Bishop of Kition (present-day Larnaca). He is said to have lived for thirty more years and on his death was buried there for the second and last time. The Church of Agios Lazaros was built over the reputed (second) tomb of Lazarus.
Tradition says that the place of Lazarus' tomb was lost during the period of Arab rule beginning in 649. In 890, a tomb was found in Larnaca bearing the inscription 'Lazarus the friend of Christ'. Emperor Leo VI of Byzantiumhad Lazarus' remains transferred to Constantinople in 898. The transfer was apostrophized by Arethas, Bishop of Caesarea, and is commemorated by the Orthodox Church each year on October 17. The transferred relics were later looted by the Fourth Crusade in the early 13th century and were brought to Marseille but subsequently lost.
In recompense to Larnaca for the translation, Emperor Leo had the Church of St. Lazarus erected over Lazarus' tomb in the late 9th to early 10th centuries. It is one of three Byzantine churches which have survived in Cyprus; the other two are the Church of the Apostle Barnabas near Salamis, and the church that was built in the walkway leading from the Epiphanios to the font.
The church is an elongated building measuring 31.5 x 14.5 m with a tripartite sanctuary, semicircular apses internally and three-sided externally and a five-sided apse in the center. The interior structure of the church is divided into three aisles with bulky double pillars and arched openings going through them. These pillars bear the weight of the domes thus forming the central aisle while the north and south aisles bear a semi-cylindrical roof, intersected by cross-vaults. The stonework of the church consists mainly of square limestone block about a meter in thickness. The church has an open porch, from which steps descend into the church.
Under Frankish and Venetian rule (the 13th to 16th centuries), the church became Roman Catholic. A stone covered portico (stoa) of Gothic style was added on its south side during this time.
The three imposing domes of this Orthodox Basilica Church and the original bell tower were destroyed, probably in the first years of Ottoman rule (1571 AD), when the church was turned into a mosque. In 1589, the Ottomans sold it back to the Orthodox, probably because of its Christian cemetery. For the next two hundred years it was used for both Orthodox and Catholic services. The porch bears traces of Greek, Latin, and French inscriptions. In 1857, after the Ottoman authorities again allowed Cypriot churches to have bell towers, the church's bell-tower was rebuilt in aLatinate style.
The woodcarving of the unique baroque iconostasis of the church was done between 1773 and 1782 by Chatzisavvas Taliadorou. The iconostasis was gold-plated between 1793 and 1797. Some of the icons were painted towards the end of the 18th century by Michael Proskynetes from Marathasa. Icon painter Hatzimichael completed the iconography of the iconostasis in 1797. Some of the wood-carved furniture (including a Rococo pulpit on one pillar for Catholic use) and icons on the walls are from the 17th century.
A fire in 1970 damaged much of the interior, including extensive damage to a section of the iconostasis together with the corresponding icons. The iconostasis has been partially restored and was re-plated with gold between 1972 and 1974. During the subsequent renovations of the church, on November 2, 1972, human remains were discovered in a marble sarcophagus under the altar, and were identified as part of the saint's relics (not all having been removed to Constantinople, apparently).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.