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:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.