The Baroque Waldegg Castle castle was built in 1682-86 as the summer home for Schultheiss Johann Viktor von Besenval (1638-1713) and his wife Maria Margaritha von Sury (1649—1713).
His son, Johann Viktor II (1671-1736) was a diplomat and an officer in the French Swiss Guards. After he inherited the castle he had it renovated (1729-34), adding a theater and the chapel of St. Michael, and decorated in the current French style. He brought numerous works of art back with him from France.
Johann Viktor II's son, Baron Peter Viktor von Besenval (1721-1791) was born at the castle. However, he lived most of his life in France. He did, however, add an orangery to the castle in 1780. The French Revolution of 1789 was disastrous to the family's influence, business interests and wealth. While they were able to escape to Switzerland, their close ties to the old nobility made them unwelcome in France. When the Besenval family died out, the castle was abandoned until it was purchased by Joseph von Sury von Besenval in 1865. The new owner added two apartments and changed the Baroque garden into an English garden.
In 1963 the castle was transferred to the Waldegg Castle Foundation and in 1975 it became the headquarters of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, an organization that fosters understanding between the different languages and cultures of Switzerland. Beginning in 1985 it was extensively renovated and repaired, a project that lasted twenty years. The castle museum opened in 1991.
The castle was built in the local Turmlihaus style, but incorporating elements of the French and Italian Baroque. The central building features three large towers and is flanked by symmetric, two story tall galleries with corner turrets. Niches in the galleries house allegorical statues which were carved in 1683 by Johann Peter Frölicher. The eastern turret houses the castle chapel with a high-Baroque altar from 1720. The second chapel has reproductions of St. Michael by Raphael and St Raphael by Domenico Fetti, the originals of which both hang in the Louvre. The main hall has ten allegorical paintings of the Arts and Sciences and is decorated with supraporte and trompe-l'œil illusions. The eastern salon has a grisaille style ceiling painting while the west salon and billiard rooms both have trompe-l'œil illusions painted on the ceiling.References:
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).