Simontornya Castle tower was built in the 13th century by Simon (Son of Salamon) among the swamps of the Sió river. The name Simontornya means Simon's Tower. Nearly all owners of the castle made some alterations throughout the centuries. The Lackfi's built a new gothic wing in the 14th century, altered the old Tower, and added an arcaded loggia to the back-front. After the extinction of the House of Garai in 1482, the castle again belonged to Queen Beatrix, wife of Matthias Corvinus.
Mózes Buzlay, marshall of King Ulászló II improved the castle into a renaissance palace with the help of Italian masters and craftsmen from Buda. After Buzlays' death the castle was taken over by the Turks in 1545. This event marked the beginning of a new era with an emphasis on military requirements. During the nearly 150 years of occupation minor alterations and refinements were constantly being made.
Simontornya, the center of a sandjak was recaptured by Louis William, Margrave of Baden-Baden in 1686. In just two years (1702-1704) major alterations turned the castle into a fortress. During the revolution against the Habsburgs, led by Prince Francis II Rákóczi, Simontornya became the stronghold of the Kuruc rebels in southwest Hungary. The fortress was captured by the Austrian army in 1709 housing troops until 1717. The castle fortress was later donated to the House of Limburg-Stirum, but, after building a new a castle, they turned the old one into a barn. It has been used as a barn by all new owners until 1960, when archeological excavations started.References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.