Kasteel Wittem, now a national listed monument, was probably built in the 11th century. The oldest records in which the castle is mentioned date from 1125. The next century the castle was owned by the knights of Julémont. They started to call themselves Lords of Wittem. A title that was assumed by later owners. During their ownership in 1286, Reinoud, Count of Gelre, tried in vain to take the castle by surprise. In the early 15th century the castle was considerably enlarged until it consisted of a powerful stronghold with 7 towers and two moats spanned by bridges. Every bridge was equipped with a gate building.
The following successive owners of the castle were the knights of the Van Scavendriesch family and the Van Cosselaer family. In 1466 the castle was sold to Diederik van Pallant. In 1520 Emperor Charles V elevated Wittem to a Barony, probably as a reward for his sojourn at the castle on his journey to Aix-la-Chapelle for his coronation.
At the beginning of the 80-Years War Wittem Castle was confiscated by the Spanish under the Duke of Alva. His troops were expelled, in 1568, by the mercenary troops of William the Silent, Prince of Orange. Next William left to Maastricht to also free that city from the Spanish. When he didn't succeed he returned to Wittem Castle only to find it again taken by Spanish troops. Yet again he drove them out. In 1569 the Spanish returned again after which they destroyed the castle.
The castle was restored and enlarged in 1611, with compensation money for the war damages, by the Van Pallant family. In 1639 ownership of the castle transferred to the Counts of Waldeck Pyrmont. In 1678 they again had to restore the damage done to the castle, this time by French troops garrisoned in Maastricht.
In 1714 Count Ferdinand von Plettenberg became the last noble owner of the castle. When he came to the castle it already was in a dilapidated state. In 1794, after the French Revolution, the ruinous castle was taken from the count and sold to Simon Merckenbach. His family restored the castle to its present state and made it habitable again. In 1958 the castle was sold and is since being used as a hotel-restaurant.
The present building forms just a small part of the medieval castle. It consists of a round corner tower with two wings. In the farm buildings belonging to the castle are also parts of remaining medieval walls.References:
The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.
According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.
In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.
The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.
The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.
In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.
The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.