The Spyker (Spycker) Castle and estate is the oldest profane structure on the Baltic Sea island of Rügen. Spycker was first recorded in 1318. It belonged then to the Stralsund patrician family von Külpens. In 1344 a daughter from the House of von Külpen married the Jasmunds. As a result the Spyker branch of the von Jasmunds was founded which died without issue in 1648.
As a result of the Thirty Years' War, Pomerania, and hence Rügen, fell to Sweden under the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. As a reward for his wartime services, Queen Christine of Sweden gave the now empty seat of Spycker in 1649 to the Swedish field marshal and later governor-general of Swedish Pomerania, Carl Gustav Wrangel. The castle, originally furnished with a defensive moat, was remodelled after 1650 into its present appearance as a Renaissance schloss and painted in Swedish Falu red, which was atypical of Rügen. Fully sculptured stucco ceilings, unique in the Baltic region, date to around 1652.
After the death of Carl Gustav Wrangel in 1676, the property passed to his daughter Eleanora-Sophia, wife of the Lord of Putbus. Eleanora-Sophia died in 1687, and the property went to the Swedish family of Brahe, with whom her older sister was connected by marriage. After its occupation by the Napoleonic troops in 1806/07 Spycker temporarily became the seat of the French governor of Rügen. In 1815, Rügen, which had hitherto been Swedish, was handed over to Prussia. Magnus Fredrik Brahe sold Spycker in 1817 and it came into the possession of Prince Wilhelm Malte I of Putbus.
Until the land reform in the Soviet Occupation Zone in 1945, the estate remained in the possession of the von Putbus family. In subsequent years, the castle was left to decay. From the 1960s until 1989, the East German trade union federation, FDGB, used the castle as a holiday home. Since 1990, the castle has been used as a hotel and, in 1995, it was restored in line with its historical appearance. The hotel has 32 guest rooms.
In March 2006, the castle and its 67,000-square-foot estate was purchased at a forced sale by the present owner Dominik von Boettinger. Today Spyker Castle is a hotel and restaurant.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.
The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.
The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.
Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.
At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.
In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.