Schadeck Castle is the most recent and smallest, but still most interesting of the four Neckarstein castles. It is perched on the high mountain like a bird's nest, which is why it is, in fact, called the 'Swallow's Nest'. After Ulrich II (1236-1257) inherited the 'front castle' from his father Ulrich I and another son joined the clergy, Bligger V, the third son, was forced to build a new castle. However, there was no more room on the mountain ridge where the other castles stood and thus he had to erect it downstream from the front castle on the slopes of the rocky massif that drop steeply to the Neckar River. This location must have caused enormous difficulties during the construction. To save the level ground for the castle complex and provide it with a frontal ditch as protection against the mountainside, a large chunk of the steep rock face had to be hewn out.
The castle itself stands on a rocky basement and appears to literally grow out of the mountain. Along the top of the high curtain wall, the most likely place to be attacked, runs a covered wall-walk with little towers on both sides. They command a panoramic view of the Neckar River valley and the impressive walled town of Dilsberg. Visitors to the castle today walk along a path from Neckarsteinach, which leads through the former frontal ditch. Earlier access was by way of a steep serpentine path from the Neckar. Today the ruin is the property of the state of Hesse and was recently restored at great cost. It can be viewed at any time free of charge and the curtain wall can be climbed.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.