Behind the small Asva village on a low-lying hayfield is located one of the most archaeologically important bronze-age sites in Northern Europe. This site, Asva, has given its name to an entire culture. Asva culture was the westernmost reach of the Finno-Ugrian late Bronze Age culture. This culture was based on herding, seal hunting, the beginnings of agriculture and, bronze casting.
During the Bronze Age, the ridge on which the settlement was located was an islet or peninsula in a shallow bay. Today, the sea has retreated many miles, and the settlement reminds us of its old seashore location only during spring flooding. The area was first excavated in 1930-1931 by a local resident, O. Reis, then a student at Tartu University.
Later excavations verified the existence of the oldest (at that time) and the longest habited fortified settlement on Saaremaa. The entire settlement covers a 3,500 square meter area. Approximately one sixth of that area has been excavated, a total of 5,800 finds has been collected. The oldest dated settlement was destroyed by fire sometime during 685 to 585 B.C. Soon, rebuilding started. The natural rise of the bluff was refortified with a mixture of soil and clay. Unfortunately, that one also fell to fire.
There are signs of a continuing settlement from the beginning of the first millenium. More tensive building took place during the middle of the first millenium. The edges of the bluff were sharpened, walls were rebuilt and heightened. The site as we see it today dates to those years. Apparently, the site maintained its name, Hill Fort Field, in popular oral tradition, from those years dating back to the years around 500 A.D.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.