The Musée des Augustins is a fine arts museum in Toulouse which conserves a collection of sculpture and paintings from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century. The paintings are from throughout France, the sculptures representing Occitan culture of the region with a particularly rich assemblage of Romanesque sculpture.
The building in which the museum is sited was built in 1309 in the Gothic style and prior to the French Revolution housed Toulouse's Augustinian convent. The convent was secularized in 1793 and first opened to the public as a museum in 1795, making it one of the oldest museums in France after the Louvre.
The French schools of the 15th to 18th centuries are represented in the painting collection by Philippe de Champaigne, Louise Moillon, Valentin de Boulogne, Sébastien Bourdon etc, as well as painters from Toulouse and its region, such as Nicolas Tournier. Many French 19th- and 20th-century painting are also represented, with works by Toulouse-Lautrec, Ingres, Delacroix and Manet. The painting collection also includes works by Spanish, Dutch and Italian artists. The Italian holdings span from the 14th to the 18th century with works by Neri di Bicci, Lorenzo Monaco, Pietro Perugino, Jacopo Zucchi, Guido Reni, Guercino, Bernardo Strozzi, Baciccio, Carlo Maratta, Crespi, Francesco Solimena, Guardi. Flemish and Dutch painting is represented with paintings by Cornelis van Haarlem, Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens, Jan van Goyen, Aelbert Cuyp, Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Cornelis van Poelenburgh while for Spain the museum notably displays one painting by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.
The museum's sculpture collection is in large part due to the rescue activities of antiquaries and museum curators such as Alexandre du Mège who managed to extricate sculpture from the frequent destruction of religious buildings that marked the 19th century. It is particularly strong in 12th-century Romanesque sculpture from the city's three main religious buildings - the priory of Notre-Dame de la Daurade, the basilica of Saint-Sernin and the cathedral of Saint-Étienne. It also includes many 14th and 15th century locally-produced sculptures and eight 16th century terracotta figures from the chapelle de Rieux, built around 1340 in the couvent des Cordeliers, as well as gargoyles from the same convent. It also houses 19th century sculpture, with plaster works by Alexandre Falguière and his pupil Antonin Mercié, as well as works by Rodin and a bronze by Camille Claudel.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.