Hohenburg castle was first mentioned in 1146 by the Counts of Homburg. They gave their name to Homburg, the district capital and university town which lies at the foot of the castle, and which was granted town status by Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian in 1330. After the death of the last Count of Homburg in 1449, the castle and town fell to the Counts of Nassau-Saarbrücken.
In the second half of the 16th century, Count Johann IV of Nassau-Saarbrücken refashioned the castle into a Renaissance palace as his seat of residence and made it more secure. In the years from 1680 to 1692, King Louis XIV commissioned his fortress builder, Vauban, to build up the palace and town into a strong fortress.
After the peace treaties of Rijswijk and Baden, the fortress was razed in the years 1697 and 1714. There were two gate systems in the mighty fortress wall. The market square enclosure and the road system also originate from this period.
Since 1981, the impressive ruins of the castle and fortress have been uncovered by extensive excavations and restored. The site is easily accessed along well-signposted walking trails. From the North bastion, the rock plateau is reached by a spiral staircase. There is an impressive view over the upstream plain of the city including Kaiserstrasse, which was named after Napoleon. The caponier takes you to the first ravelin and from there onto the glacis, which today is laid out like a park.
Below the ruins of the Hohenburg Castle there are Europe’s largest man-made mottled sandstone caves. Over twelve floors of mysterious corridors lead to impressive domed halls.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.