CastelBrando, former Castrum Costae, is a medieval castle situated on a dolomite limestone rock overlooking the villages of Cison di Valmarino and Valmareno. The name CastelBrando is due to the name Brandolini, the ancient family from Forlì, who were the Lords of the castle.
CastelBrando was originally built in the Roman age as a defensive fortress in order to protect the important lines of communication which connected Northern Italy to the countries on the other side of the Alps. The original castrum, dating from 46 AD is still visible today. The original Roman baths have also been excavated, as have the original pipes of the aqueduct which supplied water from three nearby natural springs. These springs still provide water for the castle today.
During the European Migration Period the fortress became an important defensive position against barbarian invasions. Over the centuries the castle has been subject to numerous enlargements and renovations. During the 13th century the castle was substantially enlarged while under the ownership of the Da Camino family. Their architectural additions included surrounding the castle with imposing Guelph-Ghibelline style battlements and building a central tower.
The Castle's ownership then passed over to the Republic of Venice. After the fall of Venetian Republic in 1797, it was passed down through the family of Giovanni Brandolino and became the property of the Brandolini Counts, an ancient family from Forlì. In the first half of the 16th century Antonio Maria Brandolini (1476–1522), commissioned skilled engineers to enlarge the central part of the castle in Sansovino style, adding Venetian Gothic double and triple mullioned windows. In 1700 the Brandolini family commissioned Ottavio Scotti, architect and Count of Treviso, to design and build an extension to the southern part of the castle. Part of these works included the building of a castle chapel, the Church of San Martino. The chapel was decorated internally with frescoes painted by Egidio Dall'Oglio (18th century).
During World War I, the castle was invaded by Imperial Austrian forces and used as a military hospital. After 10 years of restoration work, financed by Count Girolamo IV Brandolini (1870–1935), the castle was re-opened as a place of residence in 1929. CastelBrando has now been extensively restored and now houses a 4-star hotel, museum and a theatre. Visitors can get up to the castle by funicular railway from the village.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.