Esch-sur-Sûre Castle was founded around 927 AD, when Meginaud or Maingaud and his wife Hiletrude acquired the site of Esch-sur-Sûre. He built a Romanesque tower eight metres square as well as farm buildings. The castle was considerably enlarged in the Gothic style by the two last Counts of Esch during the 13th century.
With the introduction of gunpowder in the 15th century, additional defences were required. The entire village was reinforced with a solid wall stretching 450 metres around the village complete with two defensive towers. The round watchtower or Lochturm opposite the keep was also built in the 15th century as were the entrance gate and the castle stables. The castle started to deteriorate in the middle of the 16th century and was dismantled in 1685 by the troops of Louis XIV. The outer wall was however left intact as many of the houses used of it for their back walls. The castle fell into the hands of commoners. When Victor Hugo visited the village in 1871, several families were still living there. In 1902, the Egyptian Martin Riano d’Hutzt bought the ruins from the State for 1,000 francs. He charged the architect Charles Arendt with restoration work and the chapel was restored in 1906 but then funds appear to have run out.
Today only the ruins of the castle remain although the State acquired the site in 2005 and began restoration work the following year. The site is open to the public and is illuminated in the evenings.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.