Gormaz was the largest fortress in Europe after its expansion in 956 AD. It is without a doubt the greatest example of military architecture, not only in Soria but in the entire Spanish territory. The original castle was built shortly after 756 AD by emir Abd ar-Rahman I of Córdoba, as part of a state ('dawla') policy to control rich landowners and peasants, as well as to try to govern and protect the Central Marches in the Douro Valley against the Christians to the North. In 965, Caliph al-Hakem II rebuilt and expanded the castle, as attested by an inscription over one of the gates.
The castle is more than 390 metres long though only 10-40 metres wide, has 28 towers, a main gate with a monumental horseshoe arch with remains of painted red and white voussoirs, two posterns, one of which with a small horseshoe arch, three mihrabs corresponding to a 'musalla' or open air collective oratory, use of 'spoliae' of the Roman period, and the remains of a water pool near the monumental gate mentioned before. It was repaired in the 14th century, from which time date the remains of two gates on the southern side.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.