The castle of Miranda de Ebro is located on Picota hill and offers great views of the city and the mountains that surround it. The origins of the castle date from 1358, when Tello of Castille asked the bishopric of Calahorra for the land to construct a castle at the top of the hill of La Picota, a place that was at that time occupied by the church of Santa Maria. Nevertheless, the construction did not begin until 1449, when Pedro Sarmiento occupied the church. Construction was delayed until 1485 and were directed by the expert stonecutter Juan Guas.
The fact that Miranda has been always a border region has caused the castle to witness the consequences of war on numerous occasions, and was continuously redeveloped. The most recent conflict it saw was during the War of Independence of Spain and the Carlist Wars, that left the castle in ruins. Perhaps the most important event of the fortress's history occurred during the War of Spanish Independence, when Jose Bonaparte signed the decree of use of the French currency in Spain at the castle.
In 1903, the city council, which was at the time the owner of the castle, decided to dismantle it. The stone from the castle was used for the construction of the bullring (today disappeared), the ruins of the castle were covered with earth and used as the foundations for the construction of a water tank.
Today only the north wall is visible, between the King's Battery and the Queen's Battery. Also preserved, though hidden by vegetation, is the East-West wall and a circular tower in the southwestern edge, which was probably crenellated. The entrance to the fortification was through a barbican: a small defensive system that consisted of a series of entrance halls before the front door. It also had a pit on the west side that looks towards the rest of the hill of the Picota.
The castle was constructed of ashlar masonry stone, or at least the external walls, while the rest was completed with rubble.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.