Trausnitz Castle was the home of the Wittelsbach dynasty, and it served as their ducal residence for Lower Bavaria from 1255–1503, and later as the seat of the hereditary rulers of the whole of Bavaria. The castle was founded in 1204 by Duke Ludwig I. By 1235, when Emperor Friedrich stayed in Landshut as a guest of the duke, the castle was largely complete. In the first half of the 13th century, Trausnitz was not only a political centre but also a centre of Staufen culture.
In the 15th century the castle was altered and extended many times. The Princes' Building and the New Knights' Hall were constructed, the ring walls were raised and extended and the striking towers were built. Even today, at four-yearly intervals, the 'Landshut Wedding' is still celebrated with a re-enactment of the festivities organized in 1475 by Ludwig the Rich for the wedding of his son Georg and Hedwig, daughter of the Polish king.
Duke Ludwig X, who lived in Landshut from 1516 on as the co-regent of his brother and the governor of Landshut, gradually redesigned the castle, first in the late Gothic style and later in the Renaissance style. Unfortunately little has remained from this period. Old views of the castle show that in the 16th century the Outer Courtyard was full of buildings serving various functional purposes.
Wilhelm V, born in Landshut in 1548, lived at Trausnitz Castle during the period from 1568 to 1579 prior to becoming the reigning duke. Here he assembled a large number of important artists, musicians and comedians. It was during this period that the castle was decorated with important wall paintings in the style of Florentine Mannerism, most of which were lost in a devastating fire in the year 1961. The paintings were retouched and completed under his grandson Elector Ferdinand Maria from 1675 to 1679, and it was during his era that other rooms of the Princes' Building were painted for the first time.
Ultimately Trausnitz could no longer meet the increasing representational requirements of the baroque rulers. In the 18th century it was put to various uses, for example as a barracks and a prison for aristocratic prisoners, and in 1762 it was used as a manufactory for woollen goods and silk. At the beginning of the 19th century the castle served as a barracks and a hospital, and from 1831 as a cholera hospital. From 1869 appropriate guest accommodation was prepared on the 2nd floor for visits by King Ludwig II, but this was never used.
From the 18th century the electoral bursary registry was also located here, which later became the State Archives for Lower Bavaria. In a devastating fire on 21 October 1961, large sections of the Princes' Building were destroyed, and the castle was subsequently comprehensively restored and renovated.
Included in the tour of the castle are medieval halls such as the impressive vaulted Old Knight's Hall and the castle chapel with its important sculptures and the winged altar-pieces of the Rich Dukes. The Renaissance is represented with vaulted cabinets, panelled rooms and the famous Fools' Staircase with its monumental scenes from the Italian Commedia dell'arte. The tour culminates with a view of the town from the tower terrace.
The Wittelsbach dukes were traditionally great collectors, and examples of their treasures are on display in the Chamber of Art and Curiosities – a branch of the Bavarian National Museum – in the former Ladies' Apartments of Trausnitz Castle.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.