The first mention of a church in Konstanz dedicated to the Virgin Mary was in 615. Documentary confirmation of the Episcopal church is dated to the mid 8th century. There is clear evidence indicating that it was located on the Cathedral Hill, where a late Romanesque fortification with an adjoining civilian settlement had been established. In 780, the church was mentioned in a confirmation of a contract by Charlemagne.
St. Maurice’s Rotunda (Holy Sepulchre) was built in 940 on orders of Bishop Konrad (934 - 975) who was canonized in 1123. In 1052, the cathedral collapsed. Its reconstruction took place under Bishop Rumold (1051 - 1069), with the eastern transept and three naves separated by 16 monoliths. The next 300 years saw the construction of one towers, then another, then a great fire destroyed one of the towers along with parts of the basilica as well as 96 other houses in the city. The south tower was completed in 1378.
From 1414 to 1418 the Council of Constance took place. The most important assembly of the Church during the Middle Ages, and the only one on German soil. Martin V, who had been elected Pope by the Conclave and thereby ending the schism dividing the Church, is enthroned in this Cathedral in 1417. In 1415 Jan Hus, because of his teachings, was condemned as a heretic by the Council who, at this time, was without a Pope. He was then delivered to the secular power who condemned him to death, tied him to a stake and publicly burnt him alive.
Between 1418 and 1525, the Cathedral was adapted to Gothic style by master craftsmen. In the period from 1526 to 1551, the Bishop left Konstanz because of the Reformation, and moved his See across the lake to the Martinsburg in Meersburg. The radical iconoclasm instigated by the reformer Huldrych Zwingli in nearby Zurich, caused the destruction of artwork in the Cathedral.
The subsequent centuries saw the addition of more paintings, wrought iron gates and sculptures, as well as the replacement and repair of destroyed items. Of note is the replacement of the painted Romanesque wooden ceiling by brick vaulting in 1637.
In 1821, Konstanz's bishopric, the largest in Germany, was dissolved and, in 1827, moved to Freiburg in the Breisgau. It had served the people around Lake Constance (Bodensee) for 1200 years, and survived almost 100 bishops. General restoration work took place on the Cathedral from 1844 to 1860; the tower was raised in neo-Gothic architectural style.
In 1955 Pope Pius XII raised the Cathedral to a papal Basilica Minor. A restoration program of the Cathedral’s interior as well as exterior was started in 1962 and is expected to be completed by 2010. In 1966, twelve new bells were cast and hung in the center tower and the ridge turret, a present from the state of Baden-Württemberg.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.