Castles in Uri Canton

Rudenz Tower

The Rudenz tower was built in the early 13th century. It protected the Gotthard road (Gotthardstrasse) and housed an Imperial customs post. In the 14th century, the right to collect Imperial customs was owned by the Lords of Attinghausen. The first known owner of the tower was Baron Johann von Attinghausen. After Baron Johann von Attinghausen"s death around 1360, ownership passed to the Haslital Knight of Rudenz (by ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Flüelen, Switzerland

Zwing Uri Castle

Zwing Uri is a ruined medieval castle north of Amsteg, today in the territory of the municipality of Silenen. The castle is notable for its role in Swiss historiography as the first fortress destroyed in the Burgenbruch at the beginning of the Swiss Confederacy. The slighting of Zwing Uri (Twing Üren) is mentioned in the White Book of Sarnen, a Swiss chronicle of 1470. The event is placed in the year 1307 by t ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Silenen, Switzerland

Attinghausen Castle

The first castle was built before 1100 on a hill in the middle of the village of Attinghausen. Virtually nothing is known about the first owners of the castle, although they were probably knights in the service of the Counts of Zähringen and they may have used the name von Attinghausen. By the 13th century, the original owners were gone from the castle and the von Schweinsberg family had come to own it, possibly through ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Attinghausen, Switzerland

Hospental Castle

The tower of Hospental castle was built in the 13th century for the Hospental family, first mentioned in records at the same time, and dominates the village and is a reminder of the importance of the Urserntal valley as a link in central alpine communications for many centuries. Now without floors, it was originally used as a watch tower, and had external covered platforms at the sides.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hospental, Switzerland

Schweinsberg Castle

The Freiherr von Schweinsberg first appears in documents in the 13th century at Wartenstein Castle in the Bernese Emmental. But a branch of the family was in Uri by the mid-13th century and occupied the castle, sometimes adopting the castle"s name as their family name. By 1300 there were two branches, one under Werner II who held the lands in Uri and another under Diethelm I in the Berner Oberland. The Uri branch of ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Attinghausen, 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.