Ham-sur-Heure Castle was first mentioned in the 13th century when it passed, through marriage, to the Condé family. In the 15th century the castle was owned by the d'Enghien family. In 1487, when the last family member died without heirs, the castle went to the De Merode family.
In 1540 the castle was visited by Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. Around this time the castle was probably enlarged and strengthened.
In 1667, under Ferdinand de Merode, the castle was badly damaged and the keep was destroyed when it was sieged, without success, by French armies. Between 1669 and 1671 a protective rubble wall was built. But in 1689 the castle was again besieged by French armies. This time, even though there was strong resistance from a Spanish garrison based in the castle, Albert Maximilian, son of Ferdinand, was forced to surrender. The castle was partly destroyed.At the beginning of the 18th century the old castle was transformed into a luxurious residence by Joseph de Merode. Between 1776 and 1779 the castle was again rebuilt by Balthazar-Philippe, who would be the last Count de Merode-Deynse. The rebuilding was never completed and Balthazar left the castle and moved to Vienna because of the French Revolution. The next 70 years the castle was uninhabited and stood virtually abandoned.
At the end of the 19th century the ruined castle was rebuilt by Louise de Rochechouart Mortemart and her daughter, Renée Victurienne de Merode, the wife of Charles-Jean d'Oultremont. This rebuilding, which lasted more than 20 years, drastically transformed the building and gave it its present appearance.During WW I Ham-sur-Heure Castle was visited by several distinguished guests including the son of the German Emperor, Wilhelm II. From December 1918 to January 1919, Edward VIII, the Prince of Wales, also stayed at the castle, while visiting the General Headquarters of the Australian Army Corps which were based at the castle.
In 1956 the castle was bought by the municipality. At present Ham-sur-Heure Castle is used as the town hall.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.