Krásný Dvůr is a Baroque palace with English-style landscape park and a garden inspired by that of Versailles. The first records of Krasný Dvůr date back to the 14th century, since then numerous aristocratic families held possession of it until Count Hermann Czernin von und zu Chudenitz bought it in the middle of the 17th century. Count Franz Josef Czernin von und zu Chudenitz decided to start an extensive reconstruction on a Renaissance villa built on the site of a Gothic stronghold originally constructed by Jan Maštovský of Kolovraty at the end of the 16th century.
The reconstruction project was undertaken by well-known Czech architect František Maxmilián Kaňka and was distinctly influenced by the French architecture; construction went on between 1720 and 1724. Some alterations of Chateau buildings were made at the end of the 18th century; in 1783 the chapel was erected, in 1791–92 two-pair staircases were built in the court and in the northern garden and ground arcades were walled at the same time.
Eighteen rooms and lobby galleries are open to the public. Excellent and very valuable paintings of Czech and European artists are installed here (some of the most well-known being Petr Brandl, Karel Škréta, Ludvík Kohl, Josef Bergler, Filip Kristian Benthum, Kristian Brand, Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun and a number of others), and a number of graphic arts, porcelain, china, glass, earthenware, clocks, original Adam fireplaces, furniture and other samples of historical craftsmen's skills are to be seen. Some thematic collections are also remarkable (e.g. an extensive Baroque pictorial anthology of dog-portrayals by artist Petr Václav.
The park in Krásný Dvůr, the area of which amounts to 1.0 km2, was founded in 1783–1793 by Johann Rudolf Czernin von und zu Chudenitz. He was influenced partly by his botanic inclinations and then also by his journey around Western Europe, which he undertook in 1779. In those days a new park trend had begun expanding into Europe from England. Natural scenery was to be brought into the very neighbourhood of buildings according to this trend. The principle of the landscape park is based directly on the condition of a natural landscape, not an artificially man-made one. The Chateau Park on Krásný Dvůr is true evidence of this school of thought. In accordance with taste of those days it was brightened with a number of Romantic buildings enriching vacant fields or closing various vistas of park scenes.
From the dendrological point of view you can find more than one hundred species of trees in the park, and entirely domestic or domesticated species only. A number of ancient oaks, beeches, limes, horse chestnuts, plane trees, maples and alders grow there. The most important of them is the so-called Goethe's oak (today already only a torso), the age of which is estimated at 1,000 years, which ranks it among the oldest trees in the Czech Republic. Deeper in the park we find Pan's-Temple, the Obelisk, the Vantage Pavilion, Goethe's Pavilion, a memorial plaque with the engraved names of important people who have visited the park, a hermitage, a grotto with a sarcophagus and other interesting objects. The so-called French garden, situated behind the eastern part of the Chateau, is also of note. Its parterre is solved with a pond and grassy areas, which are embellished with large yew-trees and smaller box-trees.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.