Kriebstein Castle rises above steep crags over the River Zschopau. Within the topographical grouping of hill castles it is classified as a spur castle because it lies on the extreme end of a hill spur surrounded on three sides by the Zschopau that flows around the spur in a large bow.
From 1384, the von Beerwalde family erected Kriebstein Castle as a residential and noble ruling seat. In 1400, the construction of the buildings and the extensions leaning out over the steep rock were completed.
The second era of importance in the castle’s architectural history began in 1465 when Hugold III von Schleinitz acquired the castle. He assigned Gothic reconstruction and extension works to Arnold von Westfalen, the court master builder and architect of Meissen Albrechtsburg Castle. The utility wing with the New Ballroom and the Water Chamber, the so-called rear castle and kitchen building were given their characteristic appearance in that time. This building effort gave Kriebstein Castle the footprint that is still visible today.
Only the last third of the 17th century saw a revival of building activities under the rule of the von Schoenberg family. Floors were added to the buildings attached to the residential tower and to the gatehouse as well as the stairwell. In 1825, Hanscarl von Arnim of the House of Planitz near Zwickau acquired the castle, which remained the property of the von Arnim family until 1945.
Court master builder Carl Moritz Haenel redesigned Kriebstein Castle from 1866 to 1868 in neo-Gothic style. Beside partial changes in dividing rooms, two floors were removed from the utility wing. Also, the north fortification wall lost its wooden battlement. A supporting buttress secured the ring wall and the original half-timbered structure of the kitchen building was replaced by a solid building.
The rock on which the castle stands is separated from rising ground behind it by a man-made section of ditch, the so-called Halsgraben. Typologically the Kriebstein is a combination of a tower castle (Turmburg) and a ringwork castle (Ringburg) with an oval ground plan. Dominating the whole site is the monumental keep perched atop the highest crag. With its sides measuring 22 x 12 metres, the tower, including its weather vane, reaches a height of 45 metres. Its late medieval oriel turrets and the flèche give the castle a unique and thus unmistakable silhouette. Around the keep are grouped the tower-shaped gatehouse, the curtain wall with its domestic wing, the kitchen and other buildings including the chapel wing. On the east side of the chapel wing is the double-bay, cross-ribbed vaulted Gothic hall and the rear of the castle. This building complex, immediately above the steep slopes over the Zschopau river, has a continuous upper storey dating to the 17th century. The Late Gothic kitchen building is attached directly to the keep at the centre of the castle. The whole is enclosed by a domestic wing, that was used as a great hall (today as a concert and event chamber; weddings also take place at the castle) and contained the well house as well as the northern defensive wall that joined onto the gatehouse.References:
Varberg Fortress was built in 1287-1300 by count Jacob Nielsen as protection against his Danish king, who had declared him an outlaw after the murder of King Eric V of Denmark. Jacob had close connections with king Eric II of Norway and as a result got substantial Norwegian assistance with the construction. The fortress, as well as half the county, became Norwegian in 1305.
King Eric's grand daughter, Ingeborg Håkansdotter, inherited the area from her father, King Haakon V of Norway. She and her husband, Eric, Duke of Södermanland, established a semi-independent state out of their Norwegian, Swedish and Danish counties until the death of Erik. They spent considerable time at the fortress. Their son, King Magnus IV of Sweden (Magnus VII of Norway), spent much time at the fortress as well.
The fortress was augmented during the late 16th and early 17th century on order by King Christian IV of Denmark. However, after the Treaty of Brömsebro in 1645 the fortress became Swedish. It was used as a military installation until 1830 and as a prison from the end of the 17th Century until 1931.
It is currently used as a museum and bed and breakfast as well as private accommodation. The moat of the fortress is said to be inhabited by a small lake monster. In August 2006, a couple of witnesses claimed to have seen the monster emerge from the dark water and devour a duck. The creature is described as brown, hairless and with a 40 cm long tail.