Castles and fortifications in Switzerland

Liebegg Castle

The origins of Liebegg castle and the von Liebegg family are unclear, though they were probably a junior line of the von Trostburg family. The first castle was probably built in the 2nd half of the 12th century. About a century later the second castle was built south of the first. The first mention of the family is in 1241 when Burkhard I and Ludwig von Liebegg appear as witnesses in a document. At that time they were u ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Gränichen, Switzerland

Sogn Parcazi Castle Ruins

Sogn Parcazi castle is known after the hill that it stands on. The early chronicles of the region list Pepin, the father of Charlemagne, as the founder of the castle. While this is unlikely, it has not been conclusively disproven. Regardless of whether it is true, the first church on the site may date to the 8th century and may have been built on an even older pre-Christian cult site. It was originally built as a fortifi ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Trin, Switzerland

Torre Fiorenzana

Torre Fiorenzana is a tower house built in the late 12th century for the local de Grono family. The first mention of the family is 1219. They appear again in local records in 1286 and 1288. The Canon Bernardinus of Grono and the Provost Heinrich appear to have been the last male members of the family. By 1314 it was owned by the powerful Lords of Sax-Misox and a branch of the family inhabited it. In the 14th century they ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Grono, Switzerland

Restiturm

The Restiturm, or Burgruine Resti, is a ruined castle in the municipality of Meiringen. The original castle was built in the 13th century and has been rebuilt several times. The castle is situated at the foot of the Hasliberges. The best preserved part of the castle is its tower, which still stands to this day. An examination of the castle interior reveals that the castle was constructed inside out, with the core"s c ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Meiringen, Switzerland

Weissenburg Castle

In 1175 the Freiherr von Weissenburg was first mentioned as a land holder and vassal of Duke Berthold IV of Zähringen. Whether they had a castle at this time is not recorded. When he assumed the title in 1259, Rudolf III of Weissenburg expanded and repaired Weissenburg Castle to its full size. Beginning in the 13th century, the Weissenburgs began to expand their Herrschaft. Around 1250 they added Wimmis to their territor ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Weissenburg, Switzerland

Champvent Castle

Situated on a hill overlooking the valley of Thiele, the Champvent castle of is on of the best preserved medieval castles in Vaud canton. It was probably built around 1250 by Henri de Grandson. His family occupied the castle until 1336. The castle and the lordship then passed in Burgundy until 1476 when it was burned after the Battle of Grandson (in Burgundian Wars). Champvent castle was rebuilt after 1536 and beca ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Champvent, Switzerland

Bubikon Castle

Bubikon Castle (Ritterhaus Bubikon) is a former commandery, a medieval monastery of the Knights Hospitaller. Assumably in compensation of claims related to the Alt-Rapperswil lands and rights, a change of goods occurred between the Counts of Toggenburg and Counts of Rapperswil probably in the early 1190s. To end the disputes about the legacy, the Knights Hospitaller abbey and commandry was given by Diethelm V ...
Founded: 1190s | Location: Bubikon, Switzerland

Bernegg Castle

The name Bernegg was first mentioned in 1292. Around 1365 the estate was managed by Heinrich Gottschalk. According to unconfirmed documents, the house was looted by the Confederates in 1499 and then rebuilt. In 1702, the Bernegg passed into the possession of Johann Ulrich Merhart-Mallenbrey. To this day, Merhart family still owns the house. In 1786, Maximilian Christof von Rodt, Bishop of Constance, built the four-st ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Kreuzlingen, Switzerland

Haldenstein Castle

Haldenstein Castle was probably built in the 10th or 11th century as the family castle of the Ministerialis Haldenstein family, who were in service of the Lord of Vaz. By the 12th century the family had split into two lines, the Haldenstein family and the Lichtenstein family (who inhabited the nearby Lichtenstein Castle. Each family ruled over part of the nearby village and farms. By the end of the 13th century the Lichte ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Haldenstein, Switzerland

Belfort Castle

Belfort Castle was built in two parts, an upper and a lower castle, on a rocky ridge east. The first castle on the site probably dates to around 1200. In 1222 the castle was first mentioned as the home of the Lords of Vaz. Some parts of the castle have been dated by dendrochronology to 1228-31. The original upper castle consisted of a gatehouse and three story main tower on the north wall. In 1240 the castle was expanded. ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Albula/Alvra, Switzerland

Belmont Castle

Belmont Castle was built in the 10th or 11th century for the Freiherr von Belmont. The first recorded member of the family was Lutefridus de Belmonte in 1137/39. The Belmont family was related to a number of other Raetian noble families including the powerful von Vaz. By the 13th century they were one of the most powerful families in Graubünden. They owned castles and villages throughout the region. Konrad von Belmont wa ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Flims, Switzerland

Castels Castle

Nothing is known about the early history of the Castels Castle in Luzein. Initially it may have been a refuge castle or a fortified church built during the Middle Ages. The oldest part of the ring wallwas probably built during the 12th century. At some point in the High Middle Ages, it became the home of a noble family. By the early 14th century it was the administrative center of all the Aspermont estates in Upper Prätt ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Luzein, Switzerland

Friedau Castle

In 955 Emperor Otto I granted his estates in Zizers to the Bishop of Chur. Friedau Castle may have been built on the site of one of the buildings from this 10th century grant. Construction on the castle begun under Bishop Volkart von Neuenburg (1237-1251) but was completed under Heinrich IV von Montfort (1251-1272). Once it was completed it became the administrative center of the Herrschaft and the home of the bishop" ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Zizers, Switzerland

Marschlins Castle

Marschlins Castle was built in the 13th century, though there may have been 11th or 12th century castles on the site and local legend claims it dates back to the Carolingian era. However, the 13th century castle was probably built for the Bishop of Chur. The castle is built in the Savoyard style, a square castle with corner towers, one of which is enlarged to serve as the donjon. This style of castle is unique in Graubün ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Landquart, Switzerland

Riom Castle

Riom was inhabited during the Roman era, from the 1st century through the 4th. During this time, it was a mansion or way-station along the Julier Pass road. After the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, farmers and herders continued to live here during the Early Middle Ages. In 840 it was personally owned by the king of Raetia Curiensis and was a local administrative center as well as the site of major church. The church wa ...
Founded: c. 1226 | Location: Surses, Switzerland

Alt-Signau Castle Ruins

Alt-Signau castle was the ancestral home of the Barons of Signau. The family was first mentioned in 1130 when Werner von Signau appeared in a historical record. The castle was designed to protect and control the road between the Emmental and the Aare river. In the mid-14th century the castle was abandoned when the family moved to Neu-Signau Castle on a hill across the valley. The ruin is relatively well preserved.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Signau, Switzerland

Spittel Castle

Spittel Castle was established in 1225 by Lüthold von Sumiswald as a hospital, hence the name. The current appearance dates from the restoration made after the great fire in 1730.
Founded: 1730 | Location: Sumiswald, Switzerland

Wartenfels Castle

Wartenfels Castle was erected in the early 13th century by the Wartenfels counts, vassals of Habsburg family. Later it was owned by several families and in the 18th and 19th centuries residential buildings were added as well as a chapel.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Lostorf, Switzerland

Kastelen Tower Ruins

Kastelen castle was built in the 13th century by the Counts of Kyburg. At the time of the peasant war in 1653 it was looted and left to decay. Today the tower remains. 
Founded: 13th century | Location: Willisau, Switzerland

Sonnenberg Castle

Sonnenberg Castle site was first time mentioned in 1242. The original castle was destroyed in 1407 during the Appenzell Wars and rebuilt by Landenberg family. It was again rebuilt in 1596 after a fire. Today Sonnenberg is restored and houses a restaurant.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Stettfurt, Switzerland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Externsteine Stones

The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.

In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.

The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.

The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.