Medieval castles in Switzerland

Rue Castle

Rue castle was built originally in the 12th century (the keep with three storeys), but the other buildings were destroyed in the 1230s. Peter II of Savoy rebuilt the castle between 1260-1268, but it was again destroyed in 1476 in the Burgundian Wars. The current residence dates from 1619-1763.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Rue, Switzerland

Freudenberg Castle Ruins

The Freudenberg castle was one of the largest castles in region. The main castle dates from the first half of the 13th century and consists of a keep with a trapezoid floor plan. The curtain wall was 80m long and 60m wide and protected by a round tower in the southwest corner. The castle was built by the Lords of Wildenberg. Later it was owned by several families and the imperial Austria. Because of a dispute over ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Bad Ragaz, Switzerland

Rhäzüns Castle

Rhäzüns Castle may be one of the oldest castles in Switzerland. In 960 Emperor Otto I traded a church in in castello Beneduces et Ruzunnes (in the castle of Bonaduz and Rhäzüns) to the Bishop of Chur and a 976 document by Otto II confirms the trade the existence of the castle. Over the following centuries the fortified church became a feudal castle and in 1139 Arnoldus de Ruzunne appears in the records as a Romans ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Rhäzüns, Switzerland

Tschanüff Castle

The oldest part of the Tschanüff castle is the main tower, which was built as a bergfried (a fighting tower without permanent inhabitants) in the 12th century for the Lords of Ramosch. A ring wall was added in the 13th century. On 12 March 1256 Count Meinhard of Tyrol granted the knight Nannes of Ramosch the right to build a castle at Ramosch. Since there was already a fortification, this permission was probably to expan ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Valsot, Switzerland

Schauensee Castle

Schauensee Castle was first mentioned in the 13th century in connection with the Knight Rudolf von Schauensee (1257-1317) and was probably built in the 13th century. By the beginning of the 14th century it was already in ruins. At the end of the 16th century, Johannes von Mettenwyl acquired the complex and rebuilt it, retaining only the tower from the original castle. In 1750 it was rebuilt to its current appearance under ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kriens, Switzerland

Wittigkofen Castle

Wittigkofen Castle was originally built as a residence for a farm and was awarded to the followers of the Zähringians. In the mid-13th century Heinricus Wittenchoven managed the farm. He was a member of the council and the first documented feudal superior. The property was also home to the monastery of Interlaken. The castle had several owners and belonged to different families. Beat Ludwig von Mülinen (1521-1597) purch ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Bern, Switzerland

Worb Castle

The Freiherr de Worvo was first mentioned in 1127, a couple of years before the village appeared in the record. By the second half of the 13th century the Freiherr von Kien had inherited village, lands and Worb Castle. The family ruled over the Worb Herrschaft until 1336 when they became citizens of Bern and the territory came under Bernese authority. Over the following centuries several Bernese noble families ruled o ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Worb, Switzerland

Allaman Castle

Allaman Castle has its origins in the 11 and 12th centuries but the main components were built by Louis, Duke of Savoy, in 1253. The wealthy Genevan philanthropist Count Jean-Jacques de Sellon, who owned the property until 1839, gave accommodation at the castle to political refugees, such as Napoleon"s brother Joseph Bonaparte, Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais, Voltaire, Franz Liszt and George Sand. In 18 ...
Founded: 1253 | Location: Allaman, Switzerland

Blonay Castle

Blonay Castle was built around 1175 to the site of fortified building dating from the 11th century. It was built by the Blonay noble family, vassals of Counts of Savoy. The castle was in their hands until 1752 when it was sold to Graffenried family who still owns it.
Founded: 1175 | Location: Blonay, Switzerland

Wartensee Castle

The western tower of Wartensee castle was built in 1243 by Ritter Heinrich von Wartensee as a residential tower. By the marriage the tower went in 1377 to the brothers Walter and Diethelm Blarer from St. Gallen. The family Blarer owned Wartensee until 1719. The current appearance dates from the alterations made in 1843-1553 by English composer Robert Lucas Pearsall de Willsbridge. Today Wartensee is a hotel.
Founded: 1243 | Location: Rorschacherberg, Switzerland

Thielle Castle

Thielle Castle was built by Berchtold, the count of Neuchâtel in 1270-1300. In 1320-1325 it was reconstructed in Gothic style and later it got also Baroque elements. In the 19th century the castle was used as prison and restored in 1960-1980s.
Founded: 1270-1300 | Location: Gals, Switzerland

Ehrenfels Castle

Ehrenfels Castle was probably built in the first half of the 13th century. The first mention of the Lord of Ehrenfels is in 1257. In 1320 it was owned by Burkhard and Rudolf von Schauenstein, who also used the name Ehrenfels or Herrenfels. They probably expanded the simple bergfried with residential space and a ring wall around that time. The castle was first mentioned in 1423 with Hermann von Ehrenfels as the owner. Towa ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sils im Domleschg, Switzerland

Balm Cave Castle Ruins

The Balm ruins are the remains of a fortified cave dwelling in the Jura Mountains, in the municipality of Balm bei Günsberg. It is that canton"s only cave stronghold and one of the few in Switzerland. The stronghold was built 20 metres high in a natural cave of about 20 metres wide and 6 metres deep. The outer wall was provided with two doorways and some narrow windows. The wet rock face was covered with a lining ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Balm bei Günsberg, Switzerland

Beinwil Abbey

Beinwil Abbey was founded in 1085, probably by the local nobility. After conflicts arising from the territorial claims of the towns of Solothurn and Basle against the Counts of Thierstein, who acted as the abbey"s Vögte (lords protectors), it was burnt down in 1445. After Beinwil had been taken over by Solothurn in 1519, the town authorities impounded much of the abbey"s possessions. By the 16th century only ...
Founded: 1085 | Location: Beinwil, Switzerland

Frohberg Castle Ruins

The ruins of Frohberg castle is on a rocky ridge at the upper end of the Klus valley on the way to the old Platten pass road. The stronghold at Frohberg was first mentioned in 1292 when Conrad I Schaler 'de Vroberg' was mentioned. It is likely that the castle was built by the Schaler family in the second half of the 13th Century. Although the castle dominated the way across the Platten pass (between Birseck an ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Aesch, Switzerland

Wildenstein Castle

Wildenstein Castle"s first mention was in 1301, with no understanding to when was it made or by whom. The two towers were built around 1350 and the construction or expansion of the palas was made around 1400. The medieval castle was restored as a Baroque residence in 1640 by Hans Thüring Effinger. The restoration work started in 2012.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Veltheim, Switzerland

Alt-Bechburg Castle

Alt-Bechburg Castle was built in about 1050 by the barons of Bechburg. The castle was destroyed by fire in 1713 and never rebuilt. Nowadays it is a fine viewpoint. The vast Manna Table (9x11 metres), is a nice place for visitors to the castle to rest a while.
Founded: c. 1050 | Location: Holderbank, Switzerland

Hochjuvalt Castle

Hochjuvalt Castle consists of two sections, the upper castle on a rocky spur above the valley and the lower castle along the trade road on the valley floor. The spur created a natural pinch point in the valley, forcing traffic from the Septimer, Splügen and San Bernardino Passes to pass through the customs post in the lower castle. The von Juvalt family first appears in records in 1140 and the castle is first mentioned i ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Rothenbrunnen, Switzerland

Burgistein Castle

The first castle at Burgistein was built by Jordan I of Thun (later of Burgistein) in 1260. Jordan III of Burgistein fought on the losing side in the Battle of Laupen in 1339. In retaliation a Bernese army attacked and destroyed the castle in 1340. It was rebuilt in the following years. In 1397 the Burgistein family died out and the castle was inherited by Werner Münzer. Over the following century it passed through nume ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Burgistein, 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).