Castles in Lucerne Canton

Willisau Castle

Willisau castle was built for bailiffs in 1690-1695 by the city of Lucerne. The castle is one of the most important secular Baroque buildings in central Switzerland. Particularly impressive is the design of the first two floors. The magnificent stucco works in the courtroom were created by the two artists from Lugano, Augusto Giacomo and Pietro Neurone. The impressive ceiling paintings were created by Francesco Antonio Gi ...
Founded: 1690 | Location: Willisau, Switzerland

Meggenhorn Castle

Meggenhorn Castle was built in 1868-1870 by Edouad Hofer-Grosjean from Mulhouse and in 1926 equipped with a Welte Philharmonic Organ. Today, it is mostly used as a tourist attraction and reception venue. The castle was inspired by Châteaux Chambord in the Loire Valley France and the grounds are open to the public since 1974. The castle overlooks a vineyard and is a popular place for picnicking with access to the lake fo ...
Founded: 1868 | Location: Meggen, Switzerland

Heidegg Castle

The first surviving document, which mentions the Lords of Heidegg, dates from 1185. For many centuries feudal Heidegg Castle, built in the 12th and 13th centuries was their home. Century. Today it houses the history and culture center of the Seetal valley. A living museum in which you learn stories and customs of aristocratic families, with the spirit of the past further rekindled with a stroll in the large park with its ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hitzkirch, Switzerland

Wyher Castle

Wyher Castle is a moated castle, which lies south of the village center of Ettiswil. It was first mentioned in 1304 as the home of the Freiherr von Wediswil. After passing through several owners, around the end of the 15th century it was acquired by the Feer family. Around 1510, Petermann Feer rebuilt it into a late-Gothic castle. In 1588 it was inherited by Ludwig Pfyffer von Altishofen, whose descendants adopted the nam ...
Founded: c. 1304 | Location: Ettiswil, Switzerland

Schauensee Castle

Schauensee Castle was first mentioned in the 13th century in connection with the Knight Rudolf von Schauensee (1257-1317) and was probably built in the 13th century. By the beginning of the 14th century it was already in ruins. At the end of the 16th century, Johannes von Mettenwyl acquired the complex and rebuilt it, retaining only the tower from the original castle. In 1750 it was rebuilt to its current appearance under ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kriens, 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

Nünegg Castle

Nünegg Castle castle dates from the 13th century and it was built by the counts of Kyburg. The visible remains of the castle today consist of a large keep with annexed buildings such as Palas and ancillary buildings.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Lieli, Switzerland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.