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:
Kroměříž stands on the site of an earlier ford across the River Morava. The gardens and castle of Kroměříž are an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens and described as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first residence on the site was founded by bishop Stanislas Thurzo in 1497. The building was in a Late Gothic style, with a modicum of Renaissance detail. During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was sacked by the Swedish army (1643).
It was not until 1664 that a bishop from the powerful Liechtenstein family charged architect Filiberto Lucchese with renovating the palace in a Baroque style. The chief monument of Lucchese's work in Kroměříž is the Pleasure Garden in front of the castle. Upon Lucchese's death in 1666, Giovanni Pietro Tencalla completed his work on the formal garden and had the palace rebuilt in a style reminiscent of the Turinese school to which he belonged.
After the castle was gutted by a major fire in March 1752, Bishop Hamilton commissioned two leading imperial artists, Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Josef Stern, arrived at the residence in order to decorate the halls of the palace with their works. In addition to their paintings, the palace still houses an art collection, generally considered the second finest in the country, which includes Titian's last mythological painting, The Flaying of Marsyas. The largest part of the collection was acquired by Bishop Karel in Cologne in 1673. The palace also contains an outstanding musical archive and a library of 33,000 volumes.
UNESCO lists the palace and garden among the World Heritage Sites. As the nomination dossier explains, 'the castle is a good but not outstanding example of a type of aristocratic or princely residence that has survived widely in Europe. The Pleasure Garden, by contrast, is a very rare and largely intact example of a Baroque garden'. Apart from the formal parterres there is also a less formal nineteenth-century English garden, which sustained damage during floods in 1997.
Interiors of the palace were extensively used by Miloš Forman as a stand-in for Vienna's Hofburg Imperial Palace during filming of Amadeus (1984), based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who actually never visited Kroměříž. The main audience chamber was also used in the film Immortal Beloved (1994), in the piano concerto scene.