The Basilica di San Zeno name rests partly on its architecture and partly upon the tradition that its crypt was the place of the marriage of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. It stands adjacent to a Benedictine abbey, both dedicated to St Zeno of Verona.
St. Zeno died in 380. According to legend, at a site above his tomb along the Via Gallica, the first small church was erected by Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths. Erection of the present basilica and associated monastery began in the 9th century, when Bishop Ratoldus and King Pepin of Italy attended the translation of the saint's relics into the new church. This edifice was damaged or destroyed by a Magyar invasion in the early 10th-century, at which time Zeno's body was moved to the Cathedral of Santa Maria Matricolare: on May 21, 921, it was returned to its original site in the crypt of the present church. In 967, a new Romanesque edifice was built by Bishop Raterius, with the patronage of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor.
On January 3, 1117, the church, along with most of the city, was damaged by an earthquake; the church was restored and enlarged in 1138. Work was completed in 1398 with the reconstruction of the roof and of the Gothic-style apse.
Attached to the basilica is an abbey was erected in the 9th century over a pre-existing monastery. Of the original structure, destroyed in the Napoleonic Wars, only a large brick tower and the cloisters survive. It had originally another tower and the abbot's palace. For long time the abbey was the city's official residence of the Holy Roman Emperors. In the 1980s a restoration discovered frescoes from the 12th to 15th centuries.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.