The Curutelo Castle is a well-preserved medieval castle located in the civil parish of Ardegão, in the municipality of Ponte de Lima.
There are many interpretations as to the construction of the palace of Curutelo. Félix Machado, in his notes on the nobility of the Count of São Pedro, stated that the structure existed during the time of Ferdinand I of León who conquered Coimbra from the Moors, and gave it to Nuno Nudiz. João Salgado de Araújo, Abbey of Perre, indicates that it was constructed by the Asturian nobleman Alarico (powerful descendant of the Goths) around 800. The building remained in the inheritance of his descendants until D. Urraca Landufes, who married Nuno Nudiz. Figueiredo Guerra indicates that the building was erected in 1532, by João Rodrigues do Lago, and that there was no castle at the time that Nuno Viegas and his wife, Inês Dias, instituting the Majorat, which was later confirmed by D. João I on 14 December 1395. Figueiredo da Guerra suggests that the estate palace was built in the first half of the 16th century, and followed a typology inspired by the medieval tower-residence.
During the stewardship of the 5th Majorat of Coucieiro, around 1532, the lands were sold to Duke D. Jaime, becoming the owner of the residence, tower, castle and estate of Curutelo. He eventually called on the nobleman João Rodrigues de Lago (son of Rui Gomes) to render services and conquer Azamar, resulting in the estate becoming the possession of his descendant in the following centuries.
Following the marriage of D. Maria de Felgueiras Gajo with Dr. Rodrigo Augusto Cerqueira Velozo (a Barcelos lawyer) in 1867, work was begun on modernizing the tower, that included opening spaces for new windows and doors. Yet, not having any heirs, before her death, D. Maria Felgueiras Gajo, named her husband as benefactor, resulting in litigation in the courts, that ultimately sided with Dr. Rodrigo Velozo.
The structure is situated in a harmonious, rural landscape, half-way up the mount of São Cristóvão dos Milagres, also known as São Cristóvão do Curutelo, overlooking a small valley covered in forest. It is encircled by a high wall, with ivy-covered, rectangular gated access alongside the roadway.
Similar to many of the manor-houses in the Alto Minho constructed in the 16th century, the palace of Curutelo combines the symmetry and regularity of the civil architecture associated with the Renaissance, with medieval keep tower, which at the time had a defensive function, symbolizing the nobility and power of property-owners. Its plan focuses on a single-story rectangular section, that includes a central, elevated square tower. The main body of the building is crowned by pyramidal merlons, with gargoyles situated along regular spaces on the facade. In comparison, the frontispiece is austere, with a few regular guillotine-style windows and doors with simple frames.
In the courtyard of the estate is a chapel dedicated to Santo Amaro, with a simple typology similar to the manor-house. It has a simple facade, divided into two registers by friezes, with simple rectangular frame surmounted by window, and accompanied by a truncated, rectangular bell-tower. The interior of this single-nave church includes a high-choir and presbytery in gilded woodwork.
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.