Embūte Castle ruins are located not far from an ancient castle hill erected by Curonians which was an ancient Curonian settlement and is mentioned in ancient chronicles as a place with strong Curonian resistance to German crusaders.
Embūte Castle was built in the middle of the 13th century as residence for the Bishop of Courland. It came in the hands of the Livonian Order for a short period, but in the end of the 13th century it again belonged to the bishop. The castle was many times rented in the following centuries. In the 16th century the castle became a centre of big manors and residence for local German landlords. The castle was destroyed in the Great Northern War. Some documents from the 18th century tells, that only the castle walls are preserved. In the same century a manor was erected on the old castle walls. It was expanded in the 19th century by demolishing one of the old gate towers.
The last owner of the castle was the widow of Hans von Hahn. The castle burned down in 1920 and the baroness moved to Germany. Local rumours says that the baroness burned the castle to avoid its nationalization by the new Latvian government. During the agrarian reforms in Latvia (1921–1930) all manors and land was nationalized and divided by the Latvian government. After the Second World War, the local Soviet kolkhoz used stones from the castle as building materials.
Today's ruins are surrounded by trees and in quite bad condition. Only fragments of some walls and towers are visible.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.