Castellar de la Frontera is a village within a castle surrounded by the walls of a well preserved Moorish-Christian fortress. It is located within the Parque Natural de Los Alcornocales next to a reservoir formed by the Guadarranque River.
The history of the village goes back to prehistoric times and the Bronze Age, after which the place became a medieval fortress. The prehistoric presence is still evident in the many caves around the area, where enthusiasts can see the wonderful cave drawings as proof of its heritage. It played an important role in the wars between the Spanish and the Muslims. In such a high up advantageous strategic position, peoples of many cultures wanted to control this strong vantage point.
The village was conquered and won back between Fernando III, the Moors and then Juan II, who described it as 'such a wonderful, strong town'. After the many battles of medieval times, by October 1650 Teresa María Arias de Saavedra, the Countess of Castellar, took possession of the town and later it was in the hands of the Medinaceli family.
The village was abandoned in the 1970s and its inhabitants moved to the aptly named Nuevo Castellar. The derelict state of the village attracted a number of Germans who took over the empty houses and built temporary dwellings outside the walls. The village was later repopulated.References:
The famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.
The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.
In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.
During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.
Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.
The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.
During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.