Soncino Castle was built originally in the 10th century to defend the borough from the marauding Hungarians. In 1200 it was besieged several times by the armies of Milan and Brescia, and in 1283, after being destroyed by the attacks of those armies, the commune of Soncino decided to rebuild the castle. In 1312 the castle was occupied by the Cremonese army, and in 1391 by the Milanese army, using it during the war against the Venetian Republic. In the year 1426 new walls were added to raise the previous ones.
When the 'peace of Lodi' was declared in 1454, the borders between the Venetian Republic and Duchy of Milan were established, and the Castle passed to the Duchy of Milan. The Duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza, reinforced the walls of and around the castle, which led to the request for construction in 1468 to Soncino people's desire requested by letter to the Duke of Milan, although he chose to erect just a new tower with the characteristic circular shape. Further reconstruction took place from 1471 by Benedetto Ferrini and Danese Maineri, engineers responsible for the fortresses of Soncino and Romanengo. and in 1473, Bartolomeo Gadio also contributed. From 1499 to 1509, the castle was held by the Venetians, until with French aid, the fortress was again held by the Milanese.
In 1536 the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V assigned the Milanese Stampa family the Marquisate of Soncino. This family transformed the castle into a residence commissioning frescoes by Bernardino Gatti and Vincenzo Campi for internal rooms of the castle and the chapel. In 1876 Massimiliano Stampa, last Marquis of Soncino, bequeathed the castle to the town, and the town hall in 1883, in collaboration with Luca Beltrami, began the restoration of the castle.
The Soncino Castle is strategically positioned near the town, although the four centuries it has been used as a residency has given it a harmony with the external sides, starting from the entrance that today is positioned into urban square. The entrance of the castle, a portal, that once a time was limited by a drawbridge, it was replaced at the end of 1800 by a ravelin that give access to a first courtyard used in the past as disengagement for the troops and provided of stairs to access the battlements of the external walls. The fortress entrance was permitted by two different drawbridges, one carriageable and one pedestrian. Passing through the disengagement, after the second entrance, there is the real courtyard, and in the center of that there is a well able to guarantee the necessary water in case of siege, and from this courtyard it is possible to access to the secret's underground.
Among the four towers, the most interesting is the castellan's tower (Torre del Castellano), called in this way because once a time it was the official residence of the Castle's Governor, and for this reason it was possible to isolate it from the rest of the castle in case of sieges. That tower was connected directly to the secret's underground and from here, through a segret passage, was possible to pass through the castle's ditch and run on the fields around. Is this one of the reinassances's decoration areas, with frescos and fireplaces with pyramidal hood.
The chapel built by the Marquis of Stampa is located in the 16th-century south-east tower. Here is possible, still today, to see traces of frescoes including the most ancient of that (dating at the end of the 15th century), decipting the Madonna with the child Jesus Christ.
Still here, it is possible to find a fresco from an anonymous painter representing the Duchy of Milan's coat-of-arms flancked by torches and water buckets, symbols the personal motto of Francesco Sforza 'Accendo e spengo' (I light up and I turn off), together with others heraldic enterprises. The ceiling is painted with an arbour drawing as in the Milan's Sforza Castle.
The round tower, unique on its particular shape, at the battlements level presents a round room with a circular canopy in the center that has a cylindrical column that lead to the top of the bastion that is in conical shape and significantly higher respect to the others just to give a higher watch point. This tower, built in the 1500, has traces of several coat-of-arms paintings and of a crucifixion, today in a deep degradation status. This last painting means that the chapel was placed here, in the past, and moved eventually in the other tower.References:
The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.
According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.
In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.
The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.
The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.
In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.
The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.