There are several imperial palaces in Laxenburg, outside of Vienna. The castles became a Habsburg possession in 1333 and formerly served as a summer retreat for the imperial Habsburg dynasty. Blauer Hof Palace was the birthplace of some members of the royal family, including Crown Prince Rudolf. Another castle nearby is named Franzensburg castle.

There are two imperial palaces in Laxenburg, outside of Vienna. The castles became a Habsburg possession in 1333 and formerly served as a summer retreat for the imperial Habsburg dynasty. Blauer Hof Palace was the birthplace of some members of the royal family, including Crown Prince Rudolf.

Blauer Hof was first referred to as a Freihof under Melchior Arguello in 1544. From 1705 Imperial Vice-Chancellor Friedrich Karl Schönborn was the owner, who had the existing structure generously expanded by his favourite architect, Lukas von Hildebrandt, between 1710 and 1720. As of 1756, a large extension was built by the court architect Nicoló Pacassi. Circa 1770 the Belvedere was added. Pacassi modified the building, moving the entrance from the eastern to the northern side.

The interior decoration, insofar as it has been preserved, mainly dates from 1853/54.

The castle theatre was built following designs by Nicoló Pacassi in 1753. On the park entrance side there is a high portico with a curved gable. The wall surfaces are structured by sunken fields and superimposed panels. As regards the interior decoration, only the late baroque painting in the illusionist architecture still remains. The upper zone with volutes, floral garlands and putti was added in the 19th century.

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Founded: 1333 & 1745
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Austria

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Lorca Castle

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.

Muslim Era

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.

After Reconquista

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.

Modern history

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.