Kourion city endured from antiquity until the early Middle Ages. The city has passed through different phases from a Hellenistic, Roman, and Christian periods. For this reason the city has a very large Agora (market place) and you can find an early Christian Basilica as well within the city walls. Furthermore, large public baths which were equipped with cold, warm and hot spas were built. In the large amphitheatre which sits 2000 spectators mostly gladiator games were held, therefore in the city there is Palestra or a training place for gladiators. The whole city has beautiful floor mosaics and they are mostly found in the house of Achileas and the private bath of the founder of the city.

Three kilometers from the city is the sanctuary of Hylates (the Cypriot version of Apollo which has stunning Cypro-Corinthian columns. On the same location there exists place of worship for a woodland god dating back to 6000 BC. In between Kourion and the sanctuary of Apollo a stadium that is around 400 m long is found; this stadium could sit up to 7,000 spectators who would watch ancient Greek sports. This magnificent city is believed to have been destroyed in the 4th century when a series of 5 strong earthquakes hit the city in a period of 80 years, and this inevitably brought an end to the city as it was known.

The Roman Nymphaeum near Kourion is one of the biggest and the most impressive monuments in its kind in the Mediterranean. It was dedicated to the Nymphs, the protectors of water. It consisted of an enormous central edifice, constructed with big hewn limestone blocks. It was built in the 1st century A.D. and remodelled several times later.

The ruins of Kourion are located on one of the most fertile spots in the island, with extensive ruins and including well-preserved mosaics. Interesting places are the public baths, the necropolis, the Fountain House, House of Gladiators and House of Achilles. The most spectacular site at Kourion is the Greco-Roman theatre, or forum, that has been completely restored and is used today for open air musical and theatrical performances. It is one of the venues for the International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama.

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Lorca Castle

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.

Muslim Era

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.

After Reconquista

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.

Modern history

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.