Château de Bellocq dates from the end of the 13th century and consists of an irregular quadrilateral reinforced by seven towers, linked to the fortified house built in 1281. It was remodelled during the 14th century. The castle was burned down by Louis XIII in 1620 to prevent it being used by Protestants.
At the end of the 13th century, Bellocq was at the frontier with English controlled Guyenne. Gaston VII Moncade de Béarn built the castle on the Gave de Pau, the main river access to Béarn, to fortify his territory. Construction took place between 1250 and 1280. From the beginning, the castle was intended to house a large garrison. The simple plan of an irregular quadrilateral without a keep had four round towers, a semicircular tower and two square towers, one of which formed the main entrance. The curtain walls were pierced with cruciform arrow slits.
A year after completion of the castle, Gaston VII built a bastide close by and this, as well as the fortified church of Bellocq, became integral parts of the complex.
In 1370, Gaston Fébus reinforced the castle and built new strong points in order to preserve his territory's independence from the powerful kingdoms of France, England and Navarre.
In 1542, Henri II d'Albret (Henry II of Navarre) repaired the castle, in case of a Spanish invasion. From this date, the kings of Navarre sometimes left their castle at Pau for the country of Bellocq. Jeanne d'Albret stayed there regularly in the 16th century while she took the waters at Salies-de-Béarn.
In 1568, the French king Charles IX sent the baron of Terride to subjugate and govern the Béarn, then largely Protestant. Terride's troops occupied the region and re-established the Catholic hierarchy. The following year, Jeanne d'Albret asked count Gabriel de Montgomery to form an army of resistance - the castle at Bellocq passed into Catholic hands. It resisted a short siege by Montgomery. In 1620, the Béarn Protestants once again gaining power, Louis XIII had the castle burned down to prevent it being of use to them in the future.
From 1620, the castle played no further role in the history of the region and fell into disrepair.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.