In 1162 Emperor Frederick I acquired cleared land from a monastery founded by Otto II, Margrave of Meissen, some of which was exchanged after the discovery of silver in 1168. In the following years, in accordance with the wishes of the founder, Hedwig of Brandenburg, wife of Otto of Meissen, the Cistercian Order undertook the establishment of an abbey on this land, into which in 1175 the first abbot with a community of twelve monks moved from Pforta Abbey (near Naumburg). The new foundation was known as Cella or Zelle Abbey. Construction of the abbey church began at this time. An intense period of construction is evidenced between 1180 and 1230, when the conventual buildings and the Romanesque portal were built. The church was dedicated in 1198, a Brick Gothic building with three aisles and a transept. The west front shows Northern Italian influences.
In 1217 supervision of the Abbey of the Holy Cross in Meissen, a Benedictine nunnery, was entrusted to the abbot of Zelle. In 1268 the abbey founded a daughter house near Guben, Neuzelle Abbey, after which the name Cella Vetus, Altzelle or Altzella gradually came into use to distinguish the older house.
As early as 1190, when Otto of Meissen died and was entombed here, the abbey served as the burial place of the Wettins, for which purpose the St Andrew's Chapel was later built, between 1339 and 1349. Both Frederick II, Margrave of Meissen, and his son Frederick III were buried there.
Under the abbots Vinzenz von Gruner and the humanist Martin von Lochau (abbot 1501-1522) the abbey enjoyed its most flourishing period. In 1436 the abbey bought Nossen Castle (Schloss Nossen) with contents and appurtenances for 4,200 Gulden. The castle itself was in poor condition and was restructured to serve as the abbot's residence. The upper storey of the lay brothers' building was converted into a library in 1506.
In 1540 Henry IV, Duke of Saxony, ordered the secularisation of the abbey. Under Augustus, Elector of Saxony, and no later than 1557, large parts of the buildings, which were in poor condition, were demolished and the materials reused elsewhere. Only the lay brothers' building remained, later used for storing grain. Between 1676 and 1787 the Electors of Saxony disinterred the remains of their ancestors and had them re-buried in a memorial chapel, the present-day Mausoleum. In about 1800 a Romantically landscaped park was established to form a picturesque setting for the building and the surrounding ruins.References:
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.