Gripsholm Castle is regarded as one of Sweden's finest historical monuments. A fortress was built at the location around 1380 by Bo Jonsson Grip, and belonged to his family until the confiscation of mansions and castles by King Gustav I in 1526. The King tore it down, and built a fortified castle with circular corner towers and a wall, for defensive purposes. Of the original medieval fortress, only the façade of a wall remains.
Since Gustav Vasa, Gripsholm has belonged to the Swedish Royal Family and was used as their residence until 1713. Between 1563 and 1567, King Eric XIV imprisoned his brother John and his consort Catherine Jagiellon in the castle. This was also one of the castles that King Eric was imprisoned in when John had overthrown him. John's son Sigismund, later the King of Poland and Sweden, was born in the castle on June 20, 1566.
The castle was again used as a prison between 1713 and 1773, before it was renovated by King Gustav III on behalf of his consort Sophia Magdalena. A theater was also added in one of the towers at this time.
Between 1889 and 1894, the castle underwent a heavy and controversial restoration by the architect Fredrik Lilljekvist during which many of the 17th and 18th-century alterations were removed. The largest change was the addition of a third floor; the planned demolition of a wing did not take place.
Today the castle is a museum which is open to the public, containing paintings and works of art. Part of the castle houses the National Collection of Portraits (Statens porträttsamlingar), one of the oldest portrait collection in the world.References:
Medvedgrad is a medieval fortified town located on the south slopes of Medvednica mountain, approximately halfway from the Croatian capital Zagreb to the mountain top Sljeme. For defensive purposes it was built on a hill, Mali Plazur, that is a spur of the main ridge of the mountain that overlooks the city. On a clear day the castle can be seen from far away, especially the high main tower. Below the main tower of the castle is Oltar Domovine (Altar of the homeland) which is dedicated to Croatian soldiers killed in the Croatian War of Independence.
In 1242, Mongols invaded Zagreb. The city was destroyed and burned to the ground. This prompted the building of Medvedgrad. Encouraged by Pope Innocent IV, Philip Türje, bishop of Zagreb, built the fortress between 1249 and 1254. It was later owned by bans of Slavonia. Notable Croatian and Hungarian poet and ban of Slavonia Janus Pannonius (Ivan Česmički) died in the Medvedgrad castle on March 27, 1472.
The last Medvedgrad owners and inhabitants was the Gregorijanec family, who gained possession of Medvedgrad in 1562. In 1574, the walls of Medvedgrad were reinforced, but after the 1590 Neulengbach earthquake, the fortress was heavily damaged and ultimately abandoned. It remained in ruins until the late 20th century, when it was partly restored and now offers a panoramic view of the city from an altitude of over 500 meters.