During the High Middle Ages the land that would become Burgdorf was owned by the Kingdom of Burgundy and then after 1080 by the Dukes of Zähringen. Either the kings or the dukes built a castle on the left bank of the Emme river, this castle was first mentioned in 1080.

Under Duke Berthold V, in 1200, Burgdorf Castle was expanded. The old castle consisted of a gatehouse and attached wall. Berthold V added a tower, donjon and a hall that connected the two. The old market and town was north of the castle at the foot of the hill.

After the extinction of Zähringen line, Burgdorf passed to the Counts of Kyburg. Under the Kyburg or Neu-Kyburg Counts, Burgdorf Castle was the capital of the county, and the Counts were the mayors of Burgdorf town. Under the Kyburgs, additional fortifications were added to the castle. The northern curtain wall was extended and two half-round towers were added. The eastern end and the western hall were built up and expanded. When the Kyburg line died out in 1264, the castle passed to Eberhard of Habsburg, who was married to Anna of Kyburg. Eberhard then became the Count of Neu-Kyburg.

In the 14th century, the Neu-Kyburgs became increasingly indebted. On 11 November 1382, Count Rudolf II of Neu-Kyburg, launched a raid against the city of Solothurn to try and force the city to forgive his debts. For the city of Bern, this attack on an allied city represented an excellent opportunity for the city to break its ties with the Neu-Kyburgs. In March 1383 the Bernese-Solothurn army marched on Burgdorf. The army besieged the city for 45 days, but was unsuccessful. However, on 5 April 1384 the Neu-Kyburg counts were forced to sell the towns and castles of Burgdorf and Thun to Bern for 37,800 guilders in exchange for peace.

After the Burgdorf war, the castle became the seat of the Bernese administrator. Under the Bernese administrator, the castle was again modified. The Kyburg additions to the large hall were demolished in 1540. A new gatehouse was built on the old foundations in 1559. A small stair tower was added in 1580 to the donjon. A new wing was added east of the courtyard in 1729, which contained both apartments and a granary.

During the 1798 French invasion and the creation of the Helvetic Republic, the last Bernese administrator, Rudolf of Erlach, worried that the castle would be plundered or burned. He moved all the government records to a nearby church. The castle was spared and the documents remained safe. Under the Helvetic Republic, the castle served, first, as a military hospital. Then, in 1800, the famous educator, Heinrich Pestalozzi established a school in the castle. Only four years later, the cantonal administration took over the castle and converted it into government offices. In 1886 the castle was renovated and the Castle Museum opened in the so-called Knight's Hall.

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Founded: 11th 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.