Örbyhus estate existed already in the 14th century, but the first castle was built by John Kristiernsson (Vasa) around then year 1450. It was a strong fortification with tower. Örbyhus remained in a possession of royal Vasa family until the end of 16th century. Gustav Vasa, who acquired Örbyhus through an exchange with his cousins in 1548, constructed the national fortress in the middle of Uppland complete with ramparts, moats and 54-foot-high stone walls around his grandfather’s stronghold tower. In Gustav Vasa’s castle there are many hidden passages and casemates with space for a garrison and stores for many years. The former King Erik XIV was imprisoned in Örbyhus until his death 1574-1577.
Gustav Banér, the governor of Västergötland, acquired Örbyhus in 1641 and rebuild the castle in the present form of a baroque castle. Örbyhus was owned at the beginning of the 18th century by de Geer at Leufsta, who made both Leufsta and Örbyhus the entailed estate of his nephew, the scientist Charles de Geer. During the 200 years that followed it was the names of de Geer, von Platen, de la Gardie, Klingspor and Barnekow that left their mark on Örbyhus.
In 1900 the castle was purchased by Count Carl Gustav von Rosen; it was taken over during the same year by Count Eugène von Rosen, who commissioned extensive restoration and decoration work for the building.
Today guided tours are arranged during most of the summer season of King Erik XIV’s prison, the castle park and the carriage museum.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.