This imposing brick castle Château de Morlanne, forming a polygonal enceinte, is a powerful 14th century structure with gateways, a courtyard, moats and a high keep. Inside is a manor house dating from the end of the 16th century.
The castle, standing on a motte at the southern end of the village, was built about 1370 by the architect Sicard de Lordat for Arnaud-Guilhem, the brother of Gaston Fébus (Gaston III of Foix-Béarn), in order to supervise English Gascony. There had been an earlier building on the same site of which there is no description. In the second half of the 15th century, Odet d' Aydie (1425–1498), right-hand man of Charles VII and later of Louis XI, become lord of Morlanne and transformed the austere castle with more chimneys and windows. Further alterations between the 16th century and the 19th century transformed the building over time into pleasurable residence.
In 1866, the castle became the property of Albert de Domec, a member of one of the oldest families in Morlanne which had owned the lay abbey for centuries. Various families owned the castle until World War II, when the castle became uninhabited and succumbed to ruin.
In 1969, the historian Raymond Ritter (1894–1974) acquired the castle and decided to restore the building as a medieval fortress. Works included restoring the defences of the surrounding wall towards the west starting from the keep, filling in windows added in the 18th and 19th centuries in the part of the enclosing wall next to the keep, rebuilding of the upper half of the keep and some of the buildings that had disappeared from the south-west of the courtyard.
In 1975, M. and Mme. Ritter left the castle as well as its collection of works of art and furniture to the département of Pyrénées-Atlantiques.
The most harmonious furniture collections are on the first floor. A bedroom from the time of the Consulate and Empire has two mahogany beds. The Louis XVI room is hung with silks decorated with gold buttons. The library evokes the period of the Constitutional Monarchy (1791). On the second floor are the Louis XVI bedroom and a gallery of modern paintings.
Among the paintings on display is a view of Venice by Canaletto, a painting of the face of an old man by Fragonard, The Reader by Colson, The Happy Family by Lépicié and Visit to the Wet Nurse by Boilly. Other artists represented include Pannini, Snyders and Roslin. An entire room is devoted to the works of the expressionist René Morère (1907–1942), a friend of the Ritters.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.