Einsiedeln Abbey was granted farms at Pfäffikon along with surrounding land along Lake Zurich by Emperor Otto I in 965. Soon thereafter the abbot built a large granary in Pfäffikon. Between 1233 and 1266 Abbot Anshelm von Schwanden replaced the old granary with stone tower which was designed as a watch tower, granary and residence. In 1299 the Prince-Abbot Johann von Schwanden added walls, ramparts and a moat to the tower during the Marchenstreit conflict between the Schwyz and the Abbey over grazing rights. On the night of Epiphany in 1314 a mob from Schwyz attacked the Abbey attempting to destroy the land and tax records. They hoped to destroy any records of the Abbey's counterclaims to the Schwyz grazing rights. However, the Abbot, perhaps anticipating the attack, had already moved himself and the important documents to Pfäffikon Castle.

By 1359 the castle was being used as the Abbot's summer residence as well as for its original purposes. In the 15th century Abbot Burkard von Weissenburg-Krenkingen (1418-1438) expanded the castle and changed its name to Weissenburg. He built a residential wing on one side of the tower and a chapel on the other. In 1480 the election of a new Abbot for the Abbey took place at Pfäffikon. In 1528 the castle was renovated and the walls and moat were repaired. Abbot Joachim Eichhorn (1544-1569) built a new Gothic chapel and expanded the granary in the castle. In 1577 a fire destroyed much of the Abbey and the village of Einsiedeln. The monks and villagers moved to the Castle for 7 months until the Abbey and their homes were repaired. Around 1760 Eichhorn's granary expansion was demolished and replaced with another residential wing. In 1785 the Gothic chapel was renovated in the Baroque style.

Following the 1798 French invasion and the creation of the Helvetic Republic Pfäffikon Castle was heavily damaged and declared the property of the Canton of Linth. Following the collapse of the Republic and the 1803 Act of Mediation the castle was returned to the Abbey and once again became religious property. In 1820 the remainder of the curtain wall was demolished while the tower, chapel and residential wings were rebuilt. In 1839 the rotten tower roof and overhand were replaced with the current roof. In 1928 the chapel was renovated and in 1986-88 the chapel, tower and moat were repaired and renovated. Today the castle and its restaurant are available for conferences, piano concerts, meetings and events, while the residential wings are used for municipal administration.

Castle site

The main tower is a square 12.3 meters on each side and 13 m tall. The walls are made of massive stone blocks and are 2.3 m thick at the base, tapering to 1.4 m thick on the top floor. The main entrance is located on the west side of the first floor and was reached by a wooden staircase that could be pulled up if needed. The second story was built as a large living area and included large windows with built in seating that overlooked the lake. The third story was also probably used as living quarters. The tower was probably originally topped with a wooden structure that overhung the stone walls, before it was replaced with the current roof.

In the 15th century a two-story fortification was built near the tower and protected with a series of moats. In the 16th century, however, it was demolished and replaced with the current chapel. The moats were filled in and today only the main moat remains.

The chapel has a rectangular nave with a small polygonal choir. The portal is Gothic, while the interior was decorated in the Baroque style in 1780-85, which was partly replaced in 1893-95. The stucco is Neo-classical while the wall murals are from the late 19th century. The mahogany altars were built by Father Rudolf Blättler in 1892.



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Founded: 13th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Switzerland

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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.