Achstetten Castle is a spacious three-storey building in classicist style. Two wings are loosely attached to the main structure at a right angle. These two wings function as economy buildings. On three sides the castle is surrounded by a large park, which is home to an enclosure where fallow deers are kept. The main access to the castle is by a driveway measuring about 150 metres in length. Noteworthy of the interior are a classicist staircase, 19th century furniture, an iron stove from 1798, portraits of the Freyberg family and a porcelain collection. A raised and roofed passageway on wooden pillars connects the castle to the nearby church. This passageway has a length of approximately 100 metres. Passageways of this kind, which enabled the lord of the castle and his family to enter the church without being subject to the weather, were not uncommon; remnants of such a construction can also be seen at Großlaupheim Castle.
A castle in Achstetten was first mentioned ion 1386. In a description dating from 1449, the castle is said to be a tall building, surrounded by moats and having two bridges. The castle was looted and burnt to the ground during the German Peasants' War in 1525 by members of the local peasant army, the Baltringer Haufe. A new castle was erected in 1583 which was described in 1620 by the visiting abbot of Ochsenhausen Abbey as a splendid palace.
By around 1750 it consisted of an inner yard, surrounded by a large building which contained the stables, a derelict barn and a gate on the ground floor, the granary in the attic and living quarters in between. To the left of the gate there was a prison building and the dairy whereas on the right hand side of the gate more stables for cattle and sheep were located. In the outer yard stood the building allocated to the Vogt as well as a barn. The castle and its gardens were surrounded by a tall hedge which functioned as a living wall.
The original castle was owned by the barons of Freyberg until 1639 after which time it changed hands several times before being bought by Baron Beat Conrad Reuttner von Weyl in 1795. He had the current castle built in 1794–1796. The architect was Franz Anton Bagnato. The building works started one year before the actual contract of sale was signed. Beat Conrad Reuttner von Weyl must therefore have been quite certain of his future acquisition. During the first half of the 19th century, the pond and the moats that surrounded the previous castle were drained and turned into a park. Most recently restoration works at the castle took place in 1982 and 1983. In 1996 a fountain, which already appeared in the original plans by Bagnato, was erected in the castle yard.
Achstetten Castle and its estate are in the possession of the family Reuttner von Weyl who still reside at the castle. It is also home to the offices for the administration and the management of the estate. The castle is in private hands and not accessible to the public.References:
The St Sophia's Cathedral was built between 1045-1050 inside the Novgorod Kremlin (fortress). It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. The cathedral was built by Prince Vladimir, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, and until the 1130s this principal church of the city also served as the sepulchre of Novgorodian princes. For the Novgorodians, St Sophia became synonymous with their town, the symbol of civic power and independence.
The five-domed church looks simpler but no less impressive than its prototype, the thirteen-domed St Sophia of Kiev. The cathedral exterior is striking in its majesty and epic splendour evoking the memories of Novgorod's glorious past and invincible might. In the 11th century it looked more imposing than now. Its facade represented a gigantic mosaic of huge, coarsely trimmed irregular slabs of flagstone and shell rock. In some places (particularly on the apses), the wall was covered with mortar, smoothly polished, drawn up to imitate courses of brick or of whitestone slabs, and slightly coloured. As a result, the facade was not white, as it is today, but multicoloured. The play of stone, decorative painting and the building materials of various texture enhanced the impression of austere simplicity and introduced a picturesque effect.
The two-storied galleries extend along the building's southern, western and northern sides, with a stair-tower constructed at the north-eastern corner. The cathedral has three entrances - the southern, western and northern, of which the western was the main one intended for ceremonial processions. A gate standing at the entrance is known as the Sigtuna Gate (mid-12th century); according to legend, it was brought from the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. The second name of the gate derives from the town of Magdeburg, where it was made. The two leaves are decorated with biblical and evangelical scenes in cast bronze relief. In the lower left corner there are portraits of the craftsmen who created this superb specimen of medieval Western European bronze-work. An inscription in Latin gives their names, Riquin and Weissmut. The small central figure - judging from an inscription in Slavonic - is a representation of the Russian master craftsman Avraam, who assembled the gate.
There is yet another bronze gate in the cathedral, called the Korsun Gate. Made in the 11th century in Chersonesos, Byzantium, it leads from the southern gallery into the Nativity Side-Chapel. Legend has it that the gate was handed over to Novgorod as a gift of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (c. 978 - 1054).
The interior of the cathedral is as majestic as its exterior. It is divided by huge piers into five aisles, three of which end in altar apses. In the south-western corner, inside the tower, there is a wide spiral in relatively small, modest buildings of the 12th - 16th centuries.