Castles in Graubünden canton

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

Campell Castle

Campell Castle was probably begun in the early 13th century for the knightly von Campell family. The first mention of the family is from 1289 when Egeno de Campelle appears in a record. The original castle was a four story bergfried. In the 13th or early 14th century it was expanded with a ring wall, gatehouse, ditches and a drawbridgeon the west side and a residential wing on the east. However, the Campell family died ou ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sils im Domleschg, Switzerland

Neu-Aspermont Castle

The Lords of Aspermont first appear in the historical record in 1120 as ministerialis or unfree knights in service to the Bishop of Chur, living at their castle Alt-Aspermont near Trimmis. Over the following centuries, they rose to become one of the main noble families in the region, with ties to the powerful Hohenstaufen family. In the early 13th century they built Neu-Aspermont north-east of the village of Jenins. The o ...
Founded: c. 1235 | Location: Landquart, Switzerland

Bernegg Castle

Bernegg Castle was built in the mid to late 13th century for the Freiherr von Calfreisen, though it was probably called Calfreisen Castle until the 15th century. A mention of Otto von Calfreisen in 1231 indicates that the family lived in the area before the castle was built. They may have lived in an earlier castle which was replaced in the mid 13th century or in the village. In 1259 and again in 1286 the Freiherr was men ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Arosa, Switzerland

Heinzenberg Castle

Heinzenberg Castle was built on the western side of the Domleschg Valley in the 12th century by the Freiherr von Vaz. In contrast to the small landholdings of other castles in the region, Heinzenberg was the political and judicial center over much of the valley. Though the first mention of the castle was in 1394, by 1380 the name was applied to the river and the entire side of the valley. The castle was the center of the ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Cazis, Switzerland

Innerjuvalt Castle

Innerjuvalt was built about 2 km south-east of the older Hochjuvalt Castle by the Freiherr von Juvalt. It was built in two parts on a narrow rocky outcropping above the entrance to the Domleschg Valley. The upper castle was first built around 1250 and was expanded around 1273. In 1342 two of the von Juvalt family, Albrecht and Bertram, appeared in a probate court to settle their inheritance, with Bertram giving up his rig ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Rothenbrunnen, Switzerland

Neuburg Castle

Neuburg Castle was first built during the late 13th century or early 14th, most likely for the Baron Tumb von Neuburg from Vorarlberg. It is unclear whether there was an earlier castle or why the Tumb von Neuburg family acquired land in Graubünden. It was first mentioned in 1345 as Nüwburg. In 1360 they had to give the castle to Heinz and Martin Buwix as collateral for a loan, but by 1385 they were back in possession of ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Untervaz, Switzerland

Obertagstein Castle

Obertagstein Castle was probably built in the 13th century by the Masein/Rialt family near Untertagstein Castle. In 1316 Margareta von Rialt left all her properties in Tagstein to her nieces. The first mention of a castle in the area is in 1322, but it probably refers to Untertagstein in Masein. In 1322 the male line of the Rialt family died out and it was inherited by the Bärenburg family. The Bärenburg family were min ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Thusis, Switzerland

Rietberg Castle

The central tower and oldest part of the Rietberg Castle was built in the 13th century, though it may have been built around an earlier 12th-century tower. It was built for the Lords of Rietberg, who in 1286 were vassals of the Freiherr von Sax-Misox. In the 14th century they became vassals of the Bishop of Chur. At that time they held the castle and estates in Schams, Chur and Oberhalbstein and were the bishop"s rep ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Pratval, Switzerland

Strassberg Castle

The castle was built in the 12th century to guard the road from Chur over the alpine passes. The oldest part of the castle, the ring wall, was built in the second half of the 12th century. The main tower was added in the early 13th century. The Lords of Strassberg first appear in the historical record in 1253. The ring wall around the main castle originally had a residential building along the north side and still shows ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Churwalden, Switzerland

Wynegg Castle

Wynegg castle was built in the 13th century for the Wynegg family. The first known member of the family, Ludwig von Wynegg, appears in a record in 1254. The family last appears in 1270 when Ulrich von Wynegg was mentioned. The family probably served the Bishop of Chur or the Freiherr von Vaz. After the family died out, the castle and lands were inherited by Vaz family, though the Bishop also claimed that he owned the cast ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Malans, Switzerland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.