Weikersheim Palace (Schloss Weikersheim) was built in the 12th century, however the exact year is not known. The palace was the traditional seat of the princely family of Hohenlohe. In the 16th century, Count Wolfgang II inherited Weikersheim after a division of estates and made it his main home. He converted the moated castle into a magnificent Renaissance palace, whose splendid rooms have been preserved with their furnishings. Aside from the large chandelier and the Lambris painting added in the 18th century, the banqueting hall remains in its original state. Princess Elisabeth Friederike Sophie's audience room was known as the 'beautiful room' because of its exquisite furnishings.
The baroque interior and palace garden date from 1710. The garden in particular with its axial arrangement and many statues exemplifies the baroque style. A permanent exhibition on the theme of alchemy is on display in the former palace kitchen, enabling visitors to discover more about Count Wolfgang II von Hohenlohe and his alchemy laboratory. The double-winged, arcaded orangery from 1723 has a total length of just under 100 metres and marks the point where the palace garden takes over from the untamed surrounding nature. An elaborate series of sculpted figures adorns the garden at Weikersheim Palace. This 'garden kingdom' includes the four seasons, the four elements and the four winds, the gods of the planets around the Hercules fountain, a number of other classical gods and a 'court' of dwarfs.
The palace has been owned by the state of Baden-Württemberg since 1967 when the palace was bought from the estate of Prince Constantin von Hohenlohe, who had encouraged arts-related activities at the palace. Today the palace is home to the Jeunesses Musicales Germany during the summer and the Weikersheim Think Tank. It is also used for large gatherings and weddings.References:
Bergenhus fortress is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. It contains buildings dating as far back as the 1240s, as well as later constructions built as recently as World War II. The extent of the enclosed area of today dates from the early 19th century. In medieval times, the area of the present-day Bergenhus Fortress was known as Holmen (The islet), and contained the royal residence in Bergen, as well as a cathedral and several churches, the bishop's residence, and a Dominican monastery. Excavations have revealed foundations of buildings believed to date back to before 1100, which might have been erected by King Olav Kyrre. In the 13th century, until 1299, Bergen was the capital of Norway and Holmen was thus the main seat of Norway's rulers. It was first enclosed by stone walls in the 1240s.
Of the medieval buildings, a medieval hall and a defensive tower remain. The royal hall, today known as Haakon's Hall, built around 1260, is the largest medieval secular building in Norway. The defensive tower, known in the Middle Ages as the keep by the sea, was built around 1270 by King Magnus VI Lagabøte, and contained a royal apartment on the top floor. In the 1560s it was incorporated by the commander of the castle, Erik Rosenkrantz, into a larger structure, which is today known as the Rosenkrantz Tower.
In the Middle Ages, several churches, including the Christ Church, Bergen's cathedral, were situated on the premises. These however were torn down in the period 1526 to 1531, as the area of Holmen was converted into a purely military fortification under Danish rule. From around this time, the name Bergenhus came into use. Building work on the Christ Church probably started around 1100. It contained the shrine of saint Sunniva, the patron saint of Bergen and western Norway. In the 12th and 13th centuries it was the site of several royal coronations and weddings. It was also the burial site of at least six kings, as well as other members of the royal family. The site of its altar is today marked by a memorial stone.
In the 19th century, the fortress lost its function as a defensive fortification, but it was retained by the military as an administrative base. After restoration in the 1890s, and again after destruction sustained during World War II, Bergenhus is today again used as a feast hall for public events. During World War II, the German navy used several of its buildings for their headquarters, and they also constructed a large concrete bunker within the fortress walls. The buildings, including the Haakon's Hall, were severely damaged when a Dutch ship in the service of the German navy, carrying approximately 120 tons of dynamite, exploded on 20 April 1944 in the harbour just outside the fortress walls, but the buildings were later restored.
Bergenhus is currently under the command of the Royal Norwegian Navy, which has about 150 military personnel stationed there. The fortifications Sverresborg fortress and Fredriksberg fortress also lie in the centre of Bergen. Haakon's Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower are open for visits by the public. Koengen, the central part of Bergenhus Fortress is also known as a concert venue.