The Basilica Palladiana is a Renaissance building in the central Piazza dei Signori in Vicenza. The most notable feature of the edifice is the loggia, which shows one of the first examples of what have come to be known as the Palladian window, designed by a young Andrea Palladio, whose work in architecture was to have a significant effect on the field during the Renaissance and later periods.
The building was originally constructed in the 15th century and was known as the Palazzo della Ragione. The building, which was in the Gothic style, served as the seat of government and also housed a number of shops on the ground floor. The 82-metre tall tower Torre della Bissara precedes this structure, as it is known from as early as 1172; however, its height was increased on this occasion, and its pinnacle was finished in 1444. The 15th-century edifice had an upside-down cover, partly supported by large archivolts, inspired by the one built in 1306 for the eponymous building of Padua. The Gothic façade was in red and gialletto marble of Verona, and is still visible behind the Palladio addition.
A double order of columns was built by Tommaso Formenton in 1481-1494 to surround the palace. However, two years after its completion, the south-western corner collapsed. In the following decades, the Vicentine government called in architects to propose a reconstruction plan. However, in 1546 the Council of One Hundred chose a young local architect, Palladio, to reconstruct the building starting from April 1549. Palladio added a new outer shell of marble classical forms, a loggia and a portico that now obscure the original Gothic architecture. He also dubbed the building a basilica, after the ancient Roman civil structures of that name.
In 1614, thirty years after Palladio's death, the building was completed, with the finishing of the main façade on Piazza delle Erbe.
Since 1994 the Basilica has been protected as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site also including the other Palladian buildings of Vicenza. The building now often hosts exhibitions in its large hall used for civic events.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.