Medieval castles in Sweden

Örbyhus Castle

Örbyhus estate existed already in the 14th century, but the first castle was built by John Kristiernsson (Vasa) around then year 1450. It was a strong fortification with tower. Örbyhus remained in a possession of royal Vasa family until the end of 16th century. Gustav Vasa, who acquired Örbyhus through an exchange with his cousins in 1548, constructed the national fortress in the middle of Uppland complete with rampart ...
Founded: ca. 1450 | Location: Örbyhus, Sweden

Borgeby Castle

Borgeby Castle is built on the site of an 11th-century castle or fortress. Excavations on the site may relate it to Harald Bluetooth. It may be reconstructed similar to the Trelleborg type with a diameter of 150 meters. Construction must have been in several phases with two separate ditches. The buildings on the site burned down during the Viking time. Excavations in 1998 found evidence of a mint. This is thought to proof ...
Founded: 1100s | Location: Lomma, Sweden

Bergkvara Castle Ruins

Bergkvara Castle had originally five floors and four corner towers. It was probably built by Arvid Trolle around 1470-1480. It was owned by his family 150 years and played an important part as a political and economical power centre. Nils Dacke, the leader of the famous peasant revolt, besieged the castle in 1542 and then attacked and burned it to the ground. The castle was left to decay until in 1794 count Arvid Eric Pos ...
Founded: 1470-1480 | Location: Växjö, Sweden

Hovdala Castle

The oldest parts of Hovdala castle date from the 16th century, although it was first time mentioned already in the 12th century. There are so-called anchoring irons visible on the facade of one of the buildings are marked with the date 1511. Hovdala's gate tower, built in the early 1600's, served as a formidable entrance for the complex. This four-storey structure, with three-foot walls, withstood intensive fighting durin ...
Founded: ca. 1511 | Location: Hässleholm, Sweden

Sölvesborg Castle Ruins

The history of Sölvesborg Castle dates at least from the 13th century. In 1263 Valdemar Braunschweig was the lord of Blekinge and Sölvesborg. In the early 15th century the castle was a temporary residence of Queen Margaret and King Erik Pomeranian. During the Northern Seven Years" War (1563–1570) the castle was destroyed by Swedish army. The castle was not rebuilt after that. Current manor house, call ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sölvesborg, Sweden

Näs Castle Ruins

In the 12th and 13th century, Näs (or Visingö) Castle on the southern end of Visingsö was the residence for the fragile Swedish monarchy. It was built probably by Sverker I of Sweden (died in 1156) or his son Charles VII of Sweden (Karl Sverkersson). Näs was thereby the oldest Royal castle in Sweden. It was a residence 5-6 kings before in 1318 Birger I (Birger Magnusson) pawned it to Danish. The castle ...
Founded: mid-1100s | Location: Visingsö, Sweden

Smedstorp Castle

Smedstorp Castle was owned by noble family Bing between 1313-1589. Later it has been a residence of families Quitzow, Bülow and Kruus. The present main building was originally the great hall of the castle built in the 16th century. Today there is no more remains of the original castle. Smedstorp is not open to the public.
Founded: 16th century | Location: Smedstorp, Sweden

Bollerup Castle

The Bollerup estate was first time mentioned in 1130. The castle was built in the end of 15th century. The present living quarters were built in the 1840s. It lies on an islet and is surrounded by a moat. Bollerup has been owned by several families like Thott, Gjöe and Rantzau. Today it houses the Bollerup Agricultural Institute. Guided tours of the fort, grounds, stables and church are available during the summer.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Tomelilla, Sweden

Torup Castle

Torup Castle, completed around 1540, is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Sweden. It was built by Görvel Fadersdotter (Sparre). Torup Castle was restored between 1602-1630 to the the appearance it has today. Later Torup was owned by Stjernblad and Coyet families and since 1970 the Malmö municipality. On May 21, 1775 a tragic accident occured at Torup Castle. Cornet Fredrich Trolle along with his aun ...
Founded: 1540 | Location: Svedala, Sweden

Örtofta Castle

Örtofta manor was first mentioned in 1346 and it has been owned by several noble families. The original brick castle was built in the late 1400s and parts of it still remains. In 1857-1861 Henry Dücker enlarged and reconstructed Örtofta to the present appearance. Today the castle hosts a hotel and provides conference and wedding services.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Eslöv, Sweden

Vallen Castle Ruins

Vallen (or Isengrim) was one of the largest medieval castles in Scania. It was probably built in the 13th century, but its history is widely unknown. The castle hill is surrounded by moat the castle hill is over 40m wide and 12m high.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Tomelilla, Sweden

Stegeborg Castle Ruins

The remains of the Stegeborg castle are situated beautifully on a little island in the sea channel leading toward Söderköping. In the Middle Ages the castle was one of the most important strongholds in Sweden and also a royal palace. The oldest parts of the castle is a brick tower in the southeast corner, built in the early 13th century. In the 18th century the castle was in bad shape and some wooden buildings ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Söderköping, Sweden

Stegeholm Castle Ruins

Stegeholm's Castle Ruin is located on Slottsholmen by the mouth of Gamlebyviken. The oldest notes about Stegeholms castle are from the 14th century. It was probably built before 1370 by Albert II, Duke of Mecklenburg (the father of King Albert of Sweden). The castle was destroyed by fire in 1517 and rebuilt in 1521. In 1612 it was conquered by Danish. The final destruction appeared in 1677 when Stegeholm was destroyed by ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Västervik, Sweden

Örup Castle

Örup Castle was completed around the year 1500. Together with Glimmingehus, Bollerup and Tosterup, the castles were built as defenses in an uncertain and dangerous time, when the Swedes and Danes fought over power and lords believed they must protect their own soil against both external enemies. Örup was first mentioned in 1437 when it was owned by Danish family Qvitzow. Later it has been a residence of Flemmin ...
Founded: ca. 1500 | Location: Tomelilla, Sweden

Penningby Castle

Penningby Castle is one of the most well-preserved castles from the early Vasa era. Penningby Manor is first mentioned in the 1330s. To the northeast is an overgrown ruin castle with a moat, which may be the remains of a predecessor to the castle. Its earliest owners included Lord Tord Bonde, burgrave of Raasepori and margrave of Viipuri castles. In late 15th century, a fortress was built by its owners, initiated by Lady ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Norrtälje, Sweden

Dynge Castle Ruins

Dynge Castle, also Dyngehus as it was once called, was a Norwegian fortified castle in use from approximately 1250 and onwards towards the beginning of the 16th century, when it burnt down. Located in central Bohuslän, since then passed into Swedish possession, the castle was mentioned several times in Norwegian records. The site was excavated 1912-1913 by Wilhelm Berg, who had also excavated the contemporary and lar ...
Founded: 1250 | Location: Uddevalla, Sweden

Lagaholm Castle Ruins

Where the old road to Halmstad crosses Lagan lies Lagaholm’s castle ruin. Lagaholm castle was built in the 1200s and was demolished in the 1600s by order of the king, Karl XI. In the 1930s the ruins were dug out and restored. Now Sydkraft’s operating centre, salmon farm and power station lie on the area. Sydkraft’s exhibition and slide show give a historical flashback to the importance of Lagaholm during the Middle ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Laholm, Sweden

Tosterup Castle

The tower of Tosterup Castle was built in the 1400s and the main building date from the 1500s. The present appearance is date mainly from the restoration made in 1760s, when the tower was merged to the main building. The castle has been owned by several famous noble families like Brahe, Thott and Krabbe. Today Tosterup is owned by family Ehrensvärd and in private use.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Tomelilla, Sweden

Tunaborgen

Tunaborgen is a ruined former bishop castle. In 1291 Archbishop Nils Alleson mentioned a fortification on the site. The fort was also a strategic point in the Gustav Vasa"s war against the Danes. The ruins were rediscovered around 1920. The castle consisted of a square tower, a citadel, built together with an almost square walls and it was surrounded by a circular moat. Today the ground floor remains.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Österskär, Sweden

Lillö Castle Ruins

Lillö Castle was built in in the 14th century among the natural defences offered by the inaccessible marshlands and the River Helge å. The first known owner was Åke Axelsson (Tott) in 1343. The castle belonged to Tott, Trolle and Huitfeldt families until it was destroyed in 1658–59. Today, displays inside the castle based on the finds made during various archaeological digs reflect life here in days ...
Founded: c. 1343 | Location: Kristianstad, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

São Jorge Castle

São Jorge Castle is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of the Portuguese city of Lisbon and Tagus River. The strongly fortified citadel dates from medieval period of Portuguese history, and is one of the main tourist sites of Lisbon.

Although the first fortifications on this hilltop date from the 2nd century BC, archaeological excavations have identified a human presence in the Tagus valley as far back as the 6th century BC. The first fortification was, presumably, erected in 48 BC, when Lisbon was classified as a Roman municipality.

The hill was first used by indigenous Celtic tribes, then by Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians as a defensible outpost that was later expropriated by Roman, Suebic, Visigothic, and Moorish peoples. During the 10th century, the fortifications were rebuilt by Muslim Berber forces, these included the walls or Cerca Moura ("Moorish Encirclement").

Kingdom

In the context of the Christian Reconquista, the castle and the city of Lisbon were freed from Moorish rule in 1147 by Afonso Henriques and northern European knights in the Siege of Lisbon during the Second Crusade; this victory was the only notable success of that failed crusade. According to an oft-repeated legend, the knight Martim Moniz, noticing that one of the doors to the castle was open, prevented the Moors from closing it by throwing his own body into the breach, thus allowing Christian soldiers to enter at the cost of his own life. With the taking of the castle Christian forces were able to maintain the defense of Lisbon until the end of the 12th century.

When Lisbon became the capital of the kingdom in 1255, the castle served as the alcáçova, a fortified residence for Afonso III, in his role as governor. It was extensively renovated around 1300 by King Denis I, transforming the Moorish alcáçova into the Royal Palace of the Alcáçova. Between 1373 and 1375, King Ferdinand I ordered the building of the Cerca Nova or Cerca Fernandina, the walled compound that enclosed the entirety of the castle. The master builders João Fernandes and Vasco Brás were responsible for its construction. This wall, which partially replaced the old Moorish walls, was designed to encircle previously unprotected parts of the city. Completed in two years, it had 77 towers and a perimeter of 5,400 metres.

The castle and the city resisted the forces of Castile several times during the 14th century (notably in 1373 and in 1383–1384). It was during this period (the late 14th century) that the castle was dedicated to Saint George by King John I, who had married the English princess Philippa of Lancaster. Saint George, the warrior-saint, was normally represented slaying a dragon, and very was popular in both countries.

From this point onward many of the kingdom's records were housed in the Torre de Ulisses, also known as the Torre Albarrã, until the reign of Manuel I. The Portuguese National Archive is still referred to as the Torre do Tombo. Between 1448 and 1451, the master builder was paid several stipends for his work on the palace. These public works continued until 1452, with additional payments being made for labor and materials to convert the building from a fortified castle to a royal residence.

Around the early 16th century, following the construction of the Ribeira Palace beside the Tagus river, the Palace of Alcáçova began to lose its importance. An earthquake occurring in 1531 further damaged the old castle, contributing further to its decay and neglect. In 1569, King Sebastian ordered the rebuilding of the royal apartments in the castle, intending to use it as his official residence. As part of the rebuilding, in 1577 Filippo Terzi demolished one of the towers near the principal facade of the Church of Loreto. However, many of the works were never completed after the young king's apparent death during the Battle of Alcácer Quibir. The following Portuguese dynastic crisis opened the way for sixty years of Spanish rule and the castle was converted into military barracks and a prison. On 30 December 1642, Teodósio de Frias the Younger was appointed master builder to continue the works begun by his father, Luís de Frias, and his grandfather, Teodósio de Frias. This was part of a greater plan by the Spanish forces to recommission the fortification.

However, after Portugal regained its independence following the Portuguese Restoration War, the works were taken over by the Portuguese government. On 6 November 1648, Nicolau de Langres was called upon to take over the design, execution and construction of a new fortification that would surround the Castle of São Jorge and the city walls of Lisbon. In 1650 the military architect Mateus do Couto was named master builder of the project and reconstruction took on a new formality: although the military engineer João Gillot built new walls in 1652, construction again followed Couto's plans between 1657 and 1733. In 1673, the Soldiers' Hospital, dedicated to São João de Deus, was installed on the grounds beside the Rua do Recolhimento. At the end of the 17th century the Recolhimento do Castelo was constructed along the southeast angle of the courtyard, and in 1733, new projects were initiated by master Custódio Vieira.

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake severely damaged the castle and contributed to its continuing decay: apart from the walls of the old castle, the soldier's hospital and the Recolhimento were left in ruins. The necessity of maintaining a supporting military force within the capital city required expansion of the site's role of garrison and presidio. From 1780 to 1807, the charitable institution Casa Pia, dedicated to the education of poor children, was established in the citadel, while soldiers continued to be garrisoned on site. Inspired by the events of the earthquake and the following tsunami, the first geodetic observatory in Portugal was constructed in 1788 at the top of one of the towers of the castle, later referred to as the Torre do Observatório.

Republic

As part of the commemorative celebrations marking the foundation of nationhood and restoration of independence, the government of António de Oliveira Salazar initiated extensive renovations at the site. Most of the incongruous structures added to the castle compound in previous centuries were demolished and there was a partial restoration of the Recolhimento. In addition, on 25 October 1947, a monument dedicated to Afonso Henriques, presented by the city of Porto, of a replica created by Soares dos Reis (in 1887) was installed on the grounds.