Originally, La Tour de Villa castle was comprised almost entirely of the central tower. The restoration works did not re-build the western part and the northern part, leaving instead a beautiful court yard with views over the plain. Today, the complex is made up of two well-distinct parts: one part is the 12th century tower and the other inhabited part is a semi-circular structure which dates back to the 15th century.
The tower, which has a square base, stands in the centre of the buildings situated on a rock which emerges from the ground. Long chocks are placed at the base of the walls, especially in the corners. Two doors both situated on the north side open externally: the original door has a height of 7.40m with a solid frame, the other, which is accessed via a double staircase, was opened during the restoration works of the 19th century. On the inside, the tower is divided into three floors with a wooden granary accessed by a spiral staircase. The roof of the tower is a lead platform, with battlements and a magnificent viewpoint.
The living area, which has double windows of exquisite workmanship, is spread over three floors. The following rooms are of particular interest: the reception room with its monumental hall, the Chapel, in which the paintings were due to the Artari, the hall of arms, where all the crests of the main noble families of the Aosta Valley are displayed, surmounted by the crest of the House of Savoy.
This castle was built by the Lords of La Tour de Villa. The ancestor of this lineage was Guido, cited in a pact sanctioning his alliance with the Count of Savoy for the storming of the fort of Bard in 1242. The last male descendant of the lineage was Grat Philibert de La Tour who died in 1693. The family crest is a golden lion, with red claws and tongue, rearing up on a black shield, accompanied by the motto Praecibus et Operibus (with prayers and work). The castle then was passed by inheritance to the Aymoniers and Carrels and was used for the charity fund of the Saint Laurent parish in Aosta.
Falling into ruin, the castle was sold in 1864 to a certain Vincent Carlin, who sold it, in turn, in 1885, to the Bishop of Aosta of the era, Auguste Duc, who restored it and made it his summer residence. In 1921, it was passed to the Gerbore barons of Saint-Nicolas and since 1945, has belonged to a family of Milan.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.