Medieval castles in Switzerland

Altenburg Castle

The exact date of Altenburg Castle construction is unknown, however the traditional date given is during the reign of Valentinian I or around 370. The discovery of several small coin hoards near the ruins may indicate a construction date as early as the beginning of the 4th century AD. The castle was built on a point above the Aar river as part of the Limes Germanicus to protect an easily fordable stretch of the ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Brugg, Switzerland

Freudenau Castle Ruins

Freudenau Castle was built around 1240 to protect the bridge over Aare river. It was left to decay already in 1300 and a large part of the castle was destroyed on 25 December 1351. The remaining buildings were abandoned and decayed over the centuries. Today only ruins remain.
Founded: 1240 | Location: Untersiggenthal, Switzerland

Liebegg Castle

The origins of Liebegg castle and the von Liebegg family are unclear, though they were probably a junior line of the von Trostburg family. The first castle was probably built in the 2nd half of the 12th century. About a century later the second castle was built south of the first. The first mention of the family is in 1241 when Burkhard I and Ludwig von Liebegg appear as witnesses in a document. At that time they were u ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Gränichen, Switzerland

Sogn Parcazi Castle Ruins

Sogn Parcazi castle is known after the hill that it stands on. The early chronicles of the region list Pepin, the father of Charlemagne, as the founder of the castle. While this is unlikely, it has not been conclusively disproven. Regardless of whether it is true, the first church on the site may date to the 8th century and may have been built on an even older pre-Christian cult site. It was originally built as a fortifi ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Trin, Switzerland

Torre Fiorenzana

Torre Fiorenzana is a tower house built in the late 12th century for the local de Grono family. The first mention of the family is 1219. They appear again in local records in 1286 and 1288. The Canon Bernardinus of Grono and the Provost Heinrich appear to have been the last male members of the family. By 1314 it was owned by the powerful Lords of Sax-Misox and a branch of the family inhabited it. In the 14th century they ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Grono, Switzerland

Champvent Castle

Situated on a hill overlooking the valley of Thiele, the Champvent castle of is on of the best preserved medieval castles in Vaud canton. It was probably built around 1250 by Henri de Grandson. His family occupied the castle until 1336. The castle and the lordship then passed in Burgundy until 1476 when it was burned after the Battle of Grandson (in Burgundian Wars). Champvent castle was rebuilt after 1536 and beca ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Champvent, Switzerland

Bubikon Castle

Bubikon Castle (Ritterhaus Bubikon) is a former commandery, a medieval monastery of the Knights Hospitaller. Assumably in compensation of claims related to the Alt-Rapperswil lands and rights, a change of goods occurred between the Counts of Toggenburg and Counts of Rapperswil probably in the early 1190s. To end the disputes about the legacy, the Knights Hospitaller abbey and commandry was given by Diethelm V ...
Founded: 1190s | Location: Bubikon, Switzerland

Haldenstein Castle

Haldenstein Castle was probably built in the 10th or 11th century as the family castle of the Ministerialis Haldenstein family, who were in service of the Lord of Vaz. By the 12th century the family had split into two lines, the Haldenstein family and the Lichtenstein family (who inhabited the nearby Lichtenstein Castle. Each family ruled over part of the nearby village and farms. By the end of the 13th century the Lichte ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Haldenstein, Switzerland

Belfort Castle

Belfort Castle was built in two parts, an upper and a lower castle, on a rocky ridge east. The first castle on the site probably dates to around 1200. In 1222 the castle was first mentioned as the home of the Lords of Vaz. Some parts of the castle have been dated by dendrochronology to 1228-31. The original upper castle consisted of a gatehouse and three story main tower on the north wall. In 1240 the castle was expanded. ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Albula/Alvra, Switzerland

Belmont Castle

Belmont Castle was built in the 10th or 11th century for the Freiherr von Belmont. The first recorded member of the family was Lutefridus de Belmonte in 1137/39. The Belmont family was related to a number of other Raetian noble families including the powerful von Vaz. By the 13th century they were one of the most powerful families in Graubünden. They owned castles and villages throughout the region. Konrad von Belmont wa ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Flims, Switzerland

Castels Castle

Nothing is known about the early history of the Castels Castle in Luzein. Initially it may have been a refuge castle or a fortified church built during the Middle Ages. The oldest part of the ring wallwas probably built during the 12th century. At some point in the High Middle Ages, it became the home of a noble family. By the early 14th century it was the administrative center of all the Aspermont estates in Upper Prätt ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Luzein, Switzerland

Friedau Castle

In 955 Emperor Otto I granted his estates in Zizers to the Bishop of Chur. Friedau Castle may have been built on the site of one of the buildings from this 10th century grant. Construction on the castle begun under Bishop Volkart von Neuenburg (1237-1251) but was completed under Heinrich IV von Montfort (1251-1272). Once it was completed it became the administrative center of the Herrschaft and the home of the bishop" ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Zizers, Switzerland

Marschlins Castle

Marschlins Castle was built in the 13th century, though there may have been 11th or 12th century castles on the site and local legend claims it dates back to the Carolingian era. However, the 13th century castle was probably built for the Bishop of Chur. The castle is built in the Savoyard style, a square castle with corner towers, one of which is enlarged to serve as the donjon. This style of castle is unique in Graubün ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Landquart, Switzerland

Riom Castle

Riom was inhabited during the Roman era, from the 1st century through the 4th. During this time, it was a mansion or way-station along the Julier Pass road. After the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, farmers and herders continued to live here during the Early Middle Ages. In 840 it was personally owned by the king of Raetia Curiensis and was a local administrative center as well as the site of major church. The church wa ...
Founded: c. 1226 | Location: Surses, Switzerland

Sonnenberg Castle

Sonnenberg Castle site was first time mentioned in 1242. The original castle was destroyed in 1407 during the Appenzell Wars and rebuilt by Landenberg family. It was again rebuilt in 1596 after a fire. Today Sonnenberg is restored and houses a restaurant.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Stettfurt, Switzerland

Porte du Scex Castle

Porte du Scex Castle was originally built to protect the territory of Vouvre and collect tolls. In the Middle Ages it was owned by Savoy and Tavelli de la Tour families. The castle was rebuilt between 1591 and 1609 and again in 1678. The museum opened in the Porte-du-Scex castle in 2008. It houses an interactive and in 3D model of the Chablais region, that is part of the permanent collection. Other rooms are dedicated to ...
Founded: 1591 | Location: Vouvry, Switzerland

Campell Castle

Campell Castle was probably begun in the early 13th century for the knightly von Campell family. The first mention of the family is from 1289 when Egeno de Campelle appears in a record. The original castle was a four story bergfried. In the 13th or early 14th century it was expanded with a ring wall, gatehouse, ditches and a drawbridgeon the west side and a residential wing on the east. However, the Campell family died ou ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sils im Domleschg, 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

Pleujouse Castle

Pleujouse was first mentioned in 1105 when a noble family strenghtened the castle. Since then it was owned by the several families until falling into a decay in the 17th century. The castle was restored and transformed into a restaurant in 1988.
Founded: c. 1105 | Location: Pleujouse, Switzerland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.