Kalwaria Zebrzydowska park is a Mannerist architectural and park landscape complex and pilgrimage park, built in the 17th century as the Counter Reformation in the late 16th century led to prosperity in the creation of Calvaries in Catholic Europe. The park was added in 1999 to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
This extraordinary testimony of piety and culture was the first of the large-scale Calvaries built in Poland, and it became a model for numerous later projects. It is notable among European Calvaries for its distinctive architectural features, for the skilful amalgamation of religious devotion and nature, and for the uninterrupted tradition of the mysteries enacted here. The sanctuary, devoted to the veneration of the Passion and to Marian worship, is an outstanding example of Calvary shrines in the Counter-Reformation period, which contributed to the growth of piety in the form of pilgrimages. The pilgrimage park, a garden of prayer, is closely related to the themes of Christ’s Passion and the life of the Virgin Mary.
The creator and founder of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska was Mikołaj Zebrzydowski, the Voivode of Kraków and starost of Lanckorona, who commissioned Felix Żebrowski, the distinguished mathematician, astronomer, and surveyor, to create a copy of Jerusalem as it was believed to exist at the time of Christ. He used a system of measurement that he developed to blend it into the local natural landscape and topography. The terrain’s natural features were cleverly utilised, topographic elements being given names referring to the landscape of the Holy City (e.g. Cedron Valley, the Mount of Olives, Golgotha) and complementary architectural structures being connected by paths and three-lined alleys that symbolise the ancient routes raised on them. The characteristics of Italian Renaissance and French Baroque garden and park design were blended with Mannerist freedom and irregularity. There are numerous vistas between different elements of the composition, as well as a series of magnificent panoramas not only of the park itself, but also of the Tatra Mountains and the City of Kraków.
The complex consists of a monastery as well as a number of churches, chapels, and other architectural structures. The most notable for representing the highest artistic values of Mannerism were built in the years 1605–1632, of which the first 14 chapels were designed by Paul Baudarth. The others had been built successively from the 17th until the beginning of the 20th century. Pathways connecting the architectural features were originally created by cutting wide trails through a dense forest stand. The landscape gradually became more open due to forest clearance, hence in the late 18th century, in order to permanently demarcate these paths in their original layout, they were lined with trees, enriching the spatial composition of the Calvary.
The park’s architecture and landscape provide the setting for enacting the mysteries of the Way of the Cross and for celebrating the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These events have been held here regularly since the early 17th century, for over 400 years, and are attended by thousands of pilgrims and tourists.References:
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.
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.
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.
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.