Bítov Castle is located on a steep promotory towering above the meandering River Želetavka. Built in the 11th century, Bítov is one of the oldest and largest Moravian castles.
A Přemyslid fortified settlement originally stood on the site and included the Chapel of Our Lady. The fort was rebuilt in the first half of the 13th century as an impregnable Gothic castle guarding the southern boundaries of the Přemyslid lands. In the 14th century a new inner ward was built along with Late Gothic fortifications. The Lords of Bítov became the new owners of the castle and based themselves here for four centuries. They carried out further improvements to the defensive capabilities of the castle.
Bítov finally underwent Baroque remodelling, and gained its present form at the beginning of the 19th century, when it passed into the hands of the Counts of Daun. The descendants of Marshal Daun, the famous military leader, rebuilt the castle in the spirit of the Romantic style. Between 1811 and 1845 the richly-decorated state rooms were created, on the basis of proposals of Anton Schuler. The culmination of the re-Gothicising work was the remodelling of the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin by Viennense architect Anton Rucker, who left the original Gothic furnishings. At the end of the 20th century, Bítov underwent extensive refurbishment.
The structural arrangement of the castle through remodelling, which was carried out several times later on, is an example of the Czech Early Gothic castle architecture. The arrangement is highly intricate and leads in one direction towards the front moat, to which both the wedge-shaped round towers pointed. The outer tower, above the moat, was later merged with the body of the castle, while the other tower stands alone at the rear of the inner court.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.