The Knights of the Teutonic Order appeared on this land in 1257. In 1352, when the Prussian lands were divided between the Church and the Monastic Order, Saalau and the surrounding lands were ceded to the Church. In 1355, the Church had already built here a Chapter House, known as the Cathedral Chancery. The building however was burnt down several times during Lithuanian raids. So in 1376 the Church authorities made a decision to raise a brick fortress, the so-called Kapitelburg.
This did not deter the Lithuanians from attacking the settlement and destroying the fort again, in 1390. In the same year, works on constructing a new and more powerful castle began. They were completed in just five years.
The construction of the castle was accompanied by the colonization of the lands along the upper course of the Pregel River. Colonists from German countries were brought to this area, where they mingled and assimilated with the local Prussian folk. At the foot of the castle a small town rose, with two competing inns.
When the Teutonic State was dissolved in 1525, Saalau was turned into a centre for local administration. In the 16th century the castle was ravaged by a fire, after which it was demolished.
Now the only remaining traces of the castle are some impressive ruins. The 18th century church, located on the other side of the road leading to the town, has had more luck. In the Soviet times, it was used as a club and a cinema and this has saved it from being pulled down.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.