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:
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.