The Menkemaborg was originally brick-built castle house built in the 14th century. It was dramatically altered around 1700 but has since been barely changed. The Alberda family, the 18th-century occupants, commissioned artists to decorate the interior with impressive chimney-pieces carved with baroque ornaments, and paintings of mythological scenes. A four-poster bed, draped with yellow silk damask from China, has also been preserved.
The rooms, which comprise reception rooms, the gentlemen's room, a study, dining room, bedroom, kitchen and cellars, are fully furnished with furniture, silverware, china, brassware and portrait paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The gardens were reconstructed after the surviving garden design dating from around 1705, and are marked by a clear layout with symmetrical patterns of clipped box enclosing beds of 18th-century flowering and ornamental plants. A particularly pretty part is the walled pleasure garden in front of the pavilion, with its trellissed arches and arbours. The natural 'sundial garden' is special too. To the east of the mansion is the utility area with a kitchen garden where vegetables and potherbs are grown and an orchard with ancient strains of apple trees and a pear-tree pergola. At the heart of the maze you will eventually find an old plane tree. In summer, the flowering rose tunnel is not to be missed!
The complex of the mansion and gardens, surrounded by their tree-shaded moat, offers a vivid impression of how the Groningen aristocracy lived in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Menkemaborg was owned privately until 1902. The last heirs donated it in 1921 to the Groninger Museum, which restored it in 1927 and opened it to the public. In 1969 the 'Stichting Museum Menkemaborg' was founded that manages the museum and grounds. The largest part of the collection in the Menkemaborg belongs to the Groninger Museum. Most of these came from deconstructed 'borgs', because the province of Groningen once had 200 borgs, and only 16 survive.References:
The castle of La Iruela, small but astonishing, is located on the top of a steep crag in Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park. From the castle, impressive views of the surrounding area and of the town can be enjoyed.
The keep dates from the Christian era. It has a square base and small dimensions and is located at the highest part of the crag.
There are some other enclosures within the tower that create a small alcázar which is difficult to access.
In a lower area of the castle, protected with defensive remains of rammed earth and irregular masonry, is an old Muslim farmstead.
After a recent restoration, an open-air theater has been built on La Iruela castle enclosure. This theater is a tribute to the Greek and Classic Eras and holds various artistic and cultural shows throughout the year.
The first traces of human activity in La Iruela area are dated from the Copper Age. An intense occupation continued until the Bronze Age.
Originally, La Iruela (like Cazorla) was a modest farmstead. From the 11th century, a wall and a small fortress were built on the hill to protect the farmers.
Around 1231, don Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada, Archbishop of Toledo, conquered La Iruela and made it part of the Adelantamiento de Cazorla. Over the Muslim fortress, the current fortress was built.
Once the military use of the fortress ended, it was used as cemetery.