Castles in Bern Canton

Thunstetten Manor

Thunstetten castle manor was built as a country manor house in the Bernese Oberaargau in 1711 to 1713 or 1713 to 1715. The castle was built for the Landvogt Hieronymus von Erlach following plans by the architect Joseph Abeille. The castle remained with the Erlach family until 1746. From 1746 until 1971 it had numerous owners. In 1971 the Stiftung Schloss Thunstetten (Thunstetten Castle Foundation) took over management of ...
Founded: 1711 | Location: Thunstetten, Switzerland

Bipp Castle

During the 12th century the Bishop of Basel granted the Buchsgau region, which included the village of Oberbipp, to the Count of Froburg to hold as a fief. By 1268 Bipp Castle is first mentioned in a document. During the 13th century the counts of Froburg appear to have gradually lost most of their holdings in the Buchsgau until only the villages of Bipp, Wiedlisbach and Erlinsburg remained. At some point in the following ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Oberbipp, Switzerland

Thorberg Castle

Thorberg Castle is a former Carthusian monastery, or charterhouse, now a prison, located in Krauchthal. Of the castle of the von Thorberg family, first documented in 1175, there remain only fragments of the foundations of the tower. The family died out in 1397 with Peter von Thorberg, the last knight: he bequeathed his many estates to the Carthusians, who converted the castle into a Carthusian monastery (or charterhouse). ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Krauchthal, Switzerland

Toffen Castle

The construction date of Toffen Castle is unknown. It first appears in a record on 19 May 1306 when Johann von Bremgarten gave up his estates, which included Toffen and Bremgarten Castles, to his uncles Heinrich and Ulrich von Bremgarten. In 1323 Peter von Gysenstein, a patrician from Bern, acquired the castle and Zwing und Bann right over the villagers of Toffen. The castle was inherited, through his daughter, by Johann ...
Founded: 1671 | Location: Toffen, Switzerland

Wartenstein Castle

The area around Lauperswil and Rüderswil was originally part of the Freiherrschaft of Signau. By the 12th century it was controlled by the lords of Ruoderswilare, who ruled out of a castle south-west of Rüderswil. By the 13th century this castle was replaced by the new Wartenstein Castle at Lauperswil. It is unknown when this castle was first built, but by 1228 the knight Swaro von Wartenstein lived there. His descendan ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Lauperswil, Switzerland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.