Steinfeld Abbey is a former Premonstratensian monastery, now a Salvatorian convent. The origins of the site go back to about 920. The first monastic settlement at Steinfeld took place in about 1070, and the Premonstratensians settled here in 1130. It became an important monastery in the German Empire, and established a number of daughter houses across Europe, including Strahov Abbey in Prague. It was raised to the status of an abbey in 1184.
In 1802, Steinfeld Abbey was secularised. The basilica was put to use as a parish church, while the conventual buildings were used for a number of secular purposes until 1923, when the Salvatorians acquired them.
The basilica, formerly the abbey church, was built between 1142 and 1150 by the Premonstratensians as one of the earliest vaulted churches in Germany. The present structure includes features from a number of periods and styles, from the original Romanesque style through Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque up to modern stainless steel elements.
The church received the status of a papal basilica minor in 1960. It comprises altogether eight bays and six chapels, including Saint Stephen's Chapel and Saint Ursula's Chapel.
The basilica contains the tomb of Hermann Joseph of Steinfeld, a popular Premonstratensian saint, situated in the middle of the church and covered with a slab and a recumbent figure of alabaster, carved in 1732. This has become a pilgrimage destination. By custom apples are left here, in reference to a legend that Hermann once offered an apple to the Christ Child in the arms of the Madonna in the church of St. Maria im Kapitol at Cologne - who took it.
The basilica also contains the well-known König-Orgel ('King Organ'), one of the most significant church organs of the Rhineland Baroque period. It was built around 1600, with additions in 1680, 1727 and 1934. It was taken out of service in 1977. In 1981, the organ was thoroughly restored by the firm Josef Weimbs Orgelbau from Hellenthal. It is composed of 1,956 pipes and 35 registers; the original pipework is still largely intact.
The original Romanesque cloister was replaced between 1492 and 1517 by a Gothic one. After the dissolution in 1802 the stained glass windows, made between 1526 and 1557 by Gerhard Remisch, were sold by a local dealer to a compatriot in Norwich in England. Some panels found their way to village churches in East Anglia, but the majority reached Lord Brownlow's collection at Ashridge Park, from where they were purchased by the Victoria and Albert Museum. Two panels are now in Steinfeld again.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.