Castles in the Neckar Valley

Schadeck Castle Ruins

Schadeck Castle is the most recent and smallest, but still most interesting of the four Neckarstein castles. It is perched on the high mountain like a bird's nest, which is why it is, in fact, called the 'Swallow's Nest'. After Ulrich II (1236-1257) inherited the 'front castle' from his father Ulrich I and another son joined the clergy, Bligger V, the third son, was forced to build a new castle. However, there was no more ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Neckarsteinach, Germany

Minneburg Castle Ruins

Minneburg was built some time in the 1200s, though its origin unknown. According to legend, the castle name was derived from a woman, Minna von Horneck by name, who was the love of Graf von Schwarzenberg who left on the Crusades. When he returned he found her on her deathbed and promised to build a castle in her honor. The Bergfried, or main tower, as well as the palas were completed around 1300, situated on a prominent ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Neckargerach, Germany

Hinterburg Castle Ruins

Hinterburg is one of the four castles in a string along the Neckar River, built by the von Steinach family in the 1100s. It is the oldest of the four, serving a strategic purpose in allowing the lords to observe the Neckar and Steinachtal. One of the earliest records mentions Bligger von Steinach, c. 1160. His son, Bligger II, who was also a famous minstrel of the time, added much of the outer wall that helped drasticall ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Neckarsteinach, Germany

Tiefburg Castle Ruins

It is not known exactly when the Tiefburg castle was built or by whom. It is assumed that it was built in the 12th century, possibly by the Abbey of Lorsch or the Count Palatinates of the Rhine (later known as the Prince Electors of the Palatinate), who set up residence in nearby Heidelberg around this time. It is also possible that the castle had its origins in a fortiied estate. The knights of Handschuhsheim who lived i ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Heidelberg, Germany

Schauenburg Castle Ruins

Schauenburg castle was built in the first half of the 12th century by the Edelfreien of Schauenburg. The family died out already in the late 13th century, however, the castle was still used and expanded in the mid-14th century. In 1460 the castle was besieged for five days and razed by Friedrich I in Baden-Palatine War. From the castle the curtain wall and keep have survived.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Dossenheim, Germany

Dauchstein Castle Ruins

Dauchstein castle was built in 1030 as a toll station for the Hohenstaufen family. As the castle was no longer used after the construction of the new residential castle, it was left to decay. Today the tower exists, other buildings are in ruins.
Founded: 1030 | Location: Binau, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.