Medieval castles in Switzerland

Neu-Homburg Castle Ruins

Homburg or Neu-Homburg Castle was the seat of the Froberg family since the 13th century until it was destroyed in 1798. Count Hermann IV of Frohburg settled in 1240 in the Läufelfingen valley. The castle was built by Hermann. The Bishop of Basel acquired Homburg in 1303 and built a new castle with the mighty residential tower as the seat of his Vogts. After the French Revolution, many of the rural people rebelled agains ...
Founded: c. 1240 | Location: Läufelfingen, Switzerland

Reichenstein Castle

Reichenstein Castle is one of four castles on a slope called Birseck that confines the plain of the Birs river and is the sister castle to Birseck Castle. Between 1245-1813 the castle was a property of the Swiss noble family Reich von Reichenstein. Today Reichenstein hosts various birthday celebrations, concerts, and weddings throughout the year.
Founded: 1239 | Location: Arlesheim, Switzerland

Schenkenberg Castle

Schenkenberg castle was probably built in the early 13th century for the Habsburgs dynasty, both as a headquarters and to protect core areas around Brugg. The first written mention of the castle took place in 1243 when the Lords of Schenkenberg, a Habsburg vassel, were granted land around the castle. The ownership changed multiple times as the Habsburgs granted it to other vassels. After the Habsburg defeat at the Bat ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Thalheim, Switzerland

Norantola Castle

The oldest parts of the Norantola Castle were probably built in the 12th century for a local noble family. In 1248 Locarnus de Norantola is mentioned in a record and in 1295 Petrus de Norantola is mentioned. However, by around 1300 the castle was owned by the powerful Counts of Sax/Misox and the Norantola family vanished from historical records. In 1324 Ugolinus von Sax was listed as the owner of the castle. In the early ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Cama, Switzerland

La Sarraz Castle

Built in 1049 on a rocky spur between Morges and Yverdon-les-Bains, La Sarraz Castle dominates the Vaudois countryside. Now a museum, it includes a collection of valuable objects acquired over the centuries by the generations of La Sarraz barons. From its construction until it was turned into a museum, La Sarraz Castle has always belonged to the barons of La Sarraz, unlike the majority of castles that pass from hand to h ...
Founded: 1049 | Location: La Sarraz, Switzerland

Oron Castle

Oron Castle was built in the 13th century. It was totally rebuilt in second half of the 15th century and renovated several times in the 17th century. In 1801 it was acquired the Roberti family of Moudon, and in 1870 it was bought by Adolphe Gaiffe. Beginning in 1880, a library was built in the castle. Today it houses 17,000 volumes and is one of the largest private collections of French novelists of the 18th Century in E ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Oron-le-Châtel, Switzerland

Angenstein Castle

Angenstein castle was founded in the middle of the 13th century by the  for a strategic outpost between Basel and the Jura area. It was owned by the Counts of Pfirt, but half of it was apparently ceded in 1271 to the Bishop of Basel. After 1557 the castle was destroyed by fires (1494 and 1517) and turned into a residence. The four-storey residential tower was built, which still characterize the appearance of Angenstei ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Aesch, Switzerland

Landenberg Castle

The earliest fortifications on Landenberg hill probably date back to the early 11th century, when the Counts of Lenzburg built a wooden fort there. After the Lenzburg line died out in 1173 their estates around Sarnen were inherited by the Habsburgs. The Habsburgs built a stone ring wall around much of the crown of the hill. While parts of the wall are still visible, very little is known about the buildings inside the wall ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Sarnen, Switzerland

Steinsberg Castle

During the High Middle Ages a fortified church with a ring wall and perhaps a tower was built near the current Steinsberg Castle. By the end of the 12th century, these fortifications were demolished and a new castle was built above formerly fortified plateau and the Church of St. Lazius. It was probably built for a local noble family. In 1209 Albert von Frickingen sold all his estates and villages as well as the castle ab ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Scuol, Switzerland

Felsenburg Castle

Felsenburg castle was probably built in the 12th century for the Freiherr of Kien. The castle was built on a rocky spire above the road over the Gemmi pass into Valais. It was inherited, along with the rest of the Herrschaft of Frutigen, by the Freiherr of Wädenswil in 1290. The Freiherr of Turn acquired it from Wädenswil in 1312. It was mentioned in a record in 1339 as the castrum de Petra. It was again mentio ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Kandergrund, Switzerland

Lucens Castle

Lucens Castle"s strategic location allowed it to control the Broye valley, which was an important transit corridor. Starting in the Middle Ages and until 1536 it was a residence of the Bishop of Lausanne and served to control the Bishop"s land in the Broye valley. During the 12th century, the castle was repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt. In 1476, it was destroyed by the Swiss Confederation. In 1536 the val ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lucens, Switzerland

Rouelbeau Castle Ruins

First wooden Rouelbeau Castle was built in 1318 by the lords of Faucigny.  It was rebuilt as a stone castle probably between 1339 and 1355 whose ruins appear still today.
Founded: 1318 | Location: Meinier, Switzerland

Farnsburg Castle Ruins

Farnsburg  castle ruins are the remains from the 14th century. It was built by the Counts of Thierstein between 1319-1342. In the 15th century Farnsburg lost its military purpose. The buildings were left to decay and it was easily conquered in 1653 (the Peasants' War) and finally in 1798 (by the revolting farmers). In 1798 the city Vogt was finally expelled and the castle was set on fire by landowners. The ruin was the ...
Founded: 1319-1342 | Location: Ormalingen, Switzerland

Herblingen Castle

Herblingen Castle in Stetten was probably built at the beginning of the 13th century by the Lords of Herblingen. In 1281 Konrad von Herblingen rebuilt the chapel, which may have been existed already in the 11th century. Herblingen family died out in the 15th century and after then castle owners changed many times. The bank director Johann Wilhelm Gestefeld from Vienna acquired the castle in 1733 and converted it into ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Stetten, Switzerland

Gräpplang Castle Ruins

The first documented reference to the Gräpplang castle dates from the year 1249. It was built around 1220 by the Knights of Flums. During the Old Zurich War (1436-1450), the castle was extorted in 1440 to get protection, but it was never attacked or destroyed. In 1528 the property was given to Ludwig Tschudi von Glarus. The castle remained in their family possession until 1767. The Tschudi family gave the castle its ...
Founded: c. 1220 | Location: Flums, Switzerland

Aarburg Castle

Aarburg Castle is located high above the town Aarburg on a steep, rocky hillside. The castle was built around a medieval castle, which controlled the narrow point on the Aare river and served as the seat of Aarburg Vogt. Today it houses the Kantonale Jugendheim, for holding and rehabilitating juvenile offenders. The exact year of construction of the castle is not known. However, it was probably built around 1200 b ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Aarburg, Switzerland

Santa Maria in Calanca Castle

The Santa Maria in Calanca castle ruins are located on a hill top at the entrance to the Calanca valley. The hill top was inhabited prehistorically and by the late Roman era was home to the Church of Santa Maria. By the High Middle Ages it was the political center of the entire valley. By the 12th century the first castle was built on the hill below the church. This castle was probably built for the de Calanca family, of ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Santa Maria in Calanca, Switzerland

Wimmis Castle

By the 12th or 13th century the Lords of Wimmis or Strättligen built Wimmis Castle above the village. The exact relationship between the two families is unclear, but the Wimmis line became extinct in the mid-13th century and by 1260 the Freiherr von Strättligen owned Wimmis Castle and the surrounding lands. A few years later the castle and lands were incorporated into the extensive holdings of the Freiherr von Weissenbu ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Wimmis, Switzerland

Les Clées Castle

Chateau des Clées is located above the village. Built probably in the 11th century, it guarded the traffic through the Jougne Pass and collected tolls on the pass road. Les Clées is first mentioned in 1134 when Pope Innocent II tried in vain to prohibit the reconstruction of the castle.  The chapel of Les Clées was built before the 14th century and rebuilt in 1738-1740. In 1444 the Duke Louis I of Savoy comm ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Les Clées, Switzerland

Compesières Commandry

The Compesières Commandry is the main Commandry of the Order of Malta in the Canton of Geneva in Switzerland. The village of Compesières existed since the 12th Century and was also mentioned as the family name of the local noble family. In 1270 the Bishop of Geneva, Aymo of Menthonay, granted the village church to the Order of Saint John. They then expanded the church into a Commandery. It is likely that the o ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Bardonnex, 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.