Baldenstein Castle was the family castle for the Knights of Baldenstein, the first of which was mentioned in 1246. The central tower which now forms part of the castle was built around the same time. Very little is recorded about the Baldenstein family and by 1289 the castle was owned by the Freiherr von Löwenstein. Before 1289 he lost the castle in a war with the Freiherr von Rhäzüns, but in the peace treaty of that year received it back after giving Schwarzenstein Castle to Rhäzüns. In 1349 it passed to the Übercastel family. Wilhelm von Übercastel planned to expand and strengthen the castle, but was prevented by the Bishop of Chur, until he granted the Bishop certain rights. Originally the castle consisted of a rectangular bergfried. During the Late Middle Ages an administrative and residential wing was added to the west.

Around 1400 the castle passed to the Freiherr von Stein. Through marriage it then passed to the von Ringg (later Ringg von Baldenstein) family in 1453. In 1562 Luzius Ringg sold the castle to Jakob Ruinelli. The Ruinelli family lived in the castle for several generations. Jakob's grandson, also named Jakob, accompanied Jürg Jenatsch to Rietberg Castle in 1621 to murder Pompeius Planta during the Bündner Wirren. He, in turn, was stabbed to death in 1627 in a brawl between drunken officers. After his death the castle was inherited by the Rosenroll family. During the 16th and 17th centuries the castle was further expanded with a new, larger wing replacing the medieval residential wing. During the same time, the medieval ring wall was replaced with a new crenelated wall.

In 1738 the castle was acquired by the Salis-Sils family, who owned it for almost half a century. In 1782 it was inherited by Francesco Conrado, from Chiavenna in Italy. Francesco became a member of Senate of the Helvetic Republic after the French invasion of Switzerland in 1798. Eventually his descendants changed their name to Conrad and still own the castle. In 1877 the residential wing was mostly destroyed in a fire. It was rebuilt to its present appearance in the following years.

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Founded: 13th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Switzerland

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Lorca Castle

Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

Muslim Era

It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.

After Reconquista

Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.

Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.

The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.

The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.

Modern history

With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.

Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.