Kirchheim Renaissance castle is the best preserved example of Württemberg duchy strongholds. On his return from exile, duke Ulrich of Württemberg ordered seven fortresses to be constructed across the country, in order to better protect its territory from other countries. As part of these measures, the fortifications of Kirchheim unter Teck were expanded and in 1538, the castle was established as a corner rampart of the city wall. This simple functional building with two timber floors with a massive base was completed in 1556 under Ulrich's son and successor, Duke Christoph. The building has an irregular diamond shape, with four wings. It was surrounded by a deep moat, which has now been drained. On one side, it still connects to the city walls.
At first, the modest palace of the rulers was used for defensive purposes and occasionally as a hunting lodge. When the plague raged in the capital city of Stuttgart in 1594, Frederick I moved his court here. Over time, its importance as a regional fortress decreased and it was gradually transformed into a residential palace.
During a two century period starting in 1628, Kirchheim castle served as the residence of the widows of some of the dukes. Residences used by the widows of other dukes included the castles in Nürtingen and Göppingen.
After the death of Duchess Henriette, the castle Kirchheimer was used for various purposes. In 1870 and 1871 it served as a hospital for the wounded of the Franco-German War. From 1876 till 1908 the Catholic parish held its services in the chapel. From 1911 till 1948, it contained the city's vocational school for girls, a kindergarten and reidential units. In 1947 the state of Baden-Württemberg assigned the castle to the State Economics School (est. 1923) for teaching and boarding purposes. The Pedagogic Institute and School, the successor to the Economics School, moved into the castle in 1971 and has used the castle ever since.
Kirchheim Castle is one of the state's monuments and is maintained by the organization State Palaces and Gardens of Baden-Württemberg. The grand living spaces on the south side of the second floor are set up as a palace museum and are open to the public. They are dedicated to the last two residents, Franziska and Henriette. Most of Franziska's furniture has been preserved, and this allowed the state of the castle during Franziska's days to be restored when the castle was reconditioned in 1985 and 1997.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.