Almería cathedral was built in Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles from 1524 to 1562. Its last bell was built in 1805. It had a dual role: as a place of worship, but also to protect the citizens when pirates attacked the city of Almeria after the Reconquest.
After an earthquake destroyed the previous structure, the cathedral is constructed, like so many churches in Spain, on the site of a mosque. Largely late Gothic/Renaissance in style, the cathedral's defensive structure consists of largely plain walls (apart from the elaborate entrance, Puerta Principal) with small, high windows, all designed to be inviolable to the invasions by North African pirates, which continued for many years after the Moors were expelled from Spain. This is the country's only fortified cathedral dating from the 16th century.
With three naves and three chapels, the magnificent Gothic interior is on a typically grand scale, with ribbed ceiling and soaring arches, featuring Baroque and neo-classical details. The Capilla de la Piedad has some superb paintings - the Anunciacion by Alonso Cano and Murillo's Concepcion Inmaculada, while dog-lovers will enjoy the Capilla de Santo Cristo where the Bishop Villalan, who founded the cathedral, lies in state in his marble tomb, complete with his hound at his feet. The choir stalls, carved from walnut, and the Sacristia Mayor with its fine stone roof, windows and arches, are particularly impressive. The stalls and bishop's tomb are both by Juan de Orea.
The cathedral shows many typically defensive features such as ramparts and artillery loopholes - the four circular corner towers, which look like they belong more on a castle, once held cannons, which could hold off Moorish invaders.
Look out for the carving of a sun on the eastern wall, the Sol de Portocarrero, not a symbol typically seen on religious buildings, which is now used as the logo for Almeria province. The Renaissance north facade is an elaborate mid-16th century design, also by de Orea.
The broad pedestrianised plaza in front of the cathedral is very pleasant, with lofty palm trees and plenty of space to stroll, contemplate the basilica, and for children to run about.References:
The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.
At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.
During the revolt of the Czech nobility he stood on the side of the Habsburgs, and took part in the Battle of White Mountain. After the uprising was defeated in 1620 he systematically acquired property confiscated from some of the rebels, and the Liechtensteins became the wealthiest family in Moravia, rising in status above the Žerotíns. Their enormous land holdings brought them great profits, and eventually allowed them to carry out their grandious building projects here in Lednice.
In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.
In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.
The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.