The fortress of Real Fuerte de la Concepción (Royal Fortress of the Conception) is a star fortress built in the Vaubanesque style. In 1640, following the death of Philip II, the conflict known as the Portuguese Restoration War began. The Spanish King began to make plans to recover the throne of Portugal and part of these plans was the strengthening of fortifications along the border along with the construction of new fortress along the border of the two countries. The Fortress of the Concepcion was one of the new fortresses constructed by order of the Duke of Osuna, commander of the Spanish Army and was located in this area to serve as a military station for the Spanish army to recover Portugal.
The construction of the fortress began in 1663. The first phase of construction was completed in 1664 taking just 40 days. This first phase sore the construction built around a large central courtyard with Pentagon bastions built in each corner with reinforced earthworks around the perimeter with addition of bundle of brushwood fascine’s and filled Baskets of woven wicker timbers woven around steaks in circles to form Redoubts. The fort was garrisoned by 1500 infantrymen and 200 cavalrymen.
Spanish troops were defeated by the Portuguese in the Battle of Castelo Rodrigo. The King of Spain took control from Osuna and ordered the demolition of the first Fort Concepción under a year after the start of the building. It was not a total demolition, as it was still sporadically used as base for the troops.
In 1735, the military engineer Pedro Moreau took on the construction of a new fort of the Concepción. The fort was completed in 1758.
However, in the War of Independence, the fort was to play a prominent role. Napoleon's decision to take control of Portugal and put his brother José on the Spanish throne would transform the fort into a major stage. The British landed in Portugal. At its command was Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington. The enormous territory surrounding Fort Concepción was to become a battlefield throughout the Spanish War of Independence. In the summer of 1810, the French besieged Ciudad Rodrigo and the brigadier Herrasti surrendered the square to the French Marshall Rey. On 21 July 1810, the British blew up Fort Concepción during their withdrawal. The four revellines which protected its walls were destroyed, as were two of its strongholds. A large part of its walls crumbled. The small fort of San José and the circular barracks of Caballerizas were also blown up by British gunners. The ravages of gunpowder can still be observed 200 years later.
After the war, the fort fell by the wayside. With its walls half in ruins, locals used the building as a quarry until the middle of the 20th century: many residents of the area went there to find stones to build their houses. The naves of the fort were also used by nearby shepherds and cattle farmers to house cattle and also for growing mushrooms.
In 2006, the current owners bought the ruins of Fort Concepción. They immediately began to began to rehabilitate the site, enhance its value and transform it into a hotel. This great transformation came to fruition in 2012 when the Real Fuerte de la Concepción reopened, this time as a luxury hotel: the only military Vaubam-style fortress in Europe to be renovated into a luxury hotel. And once and for all, it welcomes everyone – whether Spanish, Portuguese, French or English – with open arms to enjoy an environment of total peace.References:
The Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc is a Baroque monument built in 1716–1754 in honour of God. The main purpose was a spectacular celebration of Catholic Church and faith, partly caused by feeling of gratitude for ending a plague, which struck Moravia between 1713 and 1715. The column was also understood to be an expression of local patriotism, since all artists and master craftsmen working on this monument were Olomouc citizens, and almost all depicted saints were connected with the city of Olomouc in some way. The column is the biggest Baroque sculptural group in the Czech Republic. In 2000 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.
The column is dominated by gilded copper sculptures of the Holy Trinity accompanied by the Archangel Gabriel on the top and the Assumption of the Virgin beneath it.
The base of the column, in three levels, is surrounded by 18 more stone sculptures of saints and 14 reliefs in elaborate cartouches. At the uppermost stage are saints connected with Jesus’ earth life – his mother’s parents St. Anne and St. Joachim, his foster-father St. Joseph, and St. John the Baptist, who was preparing his coming – who are accompanied by St. Lawrence and St. Jerome, saints to whom the chapel in the Olomouc town hall was dedicated. Three reliefs represent the Three theological virtues Faith, Hope, and Love.
Below them, the second stage is dedicated to Moravian saints St. Cyril and St. Methodius, who came to Great Moravia to spread Christianity in 863, St. Blaise, in whose name one of the main Olomouc churches is consecrated, and patrons of neighbouring Bohemia St. Adalbert of Prague and St. John of Nepomuk, whose following was very strong there as well.
In the lowest stage one can see the figures of an Austrian patron St. Maurice and a Bohemian patron St. Wenceslas, in whose names two important Olomouc churches were consecrated, another Austrian patron St. Florian, who was also viewed as a protector against various disasters, especially fire, St. John of Capistrano, who used to preach in Olomouc, St. Anthony of Padua, a member of the Franciscan Order, which owned an important monastery in Olomouc, and St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a patron of students. His sculpture showed that Olomouc was very proud of its university. Reliefs of all twelve apostles are placed among these sculptures.
The column also houses a small chapel inside with reliefs depicting Cain's offering from his crop, Abel's offering of firstlings of his flock, Noah's first burnt offering after the Flood, Abraham's offering of Isaac and of a lamb, and Jesus' death. The cities of Jerusalem and Olomouc can be seen in the background of the last mentioned relief.