Borgholm Castle is today only a ruin of the fortress that was first built in the second half of the 12th century and many times rebuilt in later centuries. The construction of the original fortress was probably ordered by king Canute I (1167-1195), who ordered fortresses to be built on the Swedish east coast as defence against enemies from the other side of the Baltic Sea. During the 13th to 15th centuries, additions and changes were made. New towers were built, a new and thicker wall was raised for example. The fortress was damaged on a number of times during these centuries, including in 1361, when king Valdemar IV (Atterdag) of Denmark attacked Borgholm.
During the Kalmar Union, many castles and fortresses in Sweden were damaged as a result of the ongoing conflicts between Danes and Swedes. John III (r. 1568-1592) ordered the reconstruction of Borgholm into a renaissance castle. During his reign, the Pahr brothers (four engineers and architects from Milan) led a significant rebuilding that took place from 1572. The castle acquired a Gothic character and became exemplary of the Italianate bastion style.
Some decades later, Sweden and Denmark fought each other in the Kalmar War. Borgholm Castle first, in 1611, surrendered to the Danish side, but was reconquered by the Swedish side later the same year. The following year, after a siege two weeks long, the commander of the Swedish defence, Peter Michelsen Hammarskiöld had to surrender. In accordance to the treaty that followed the war, the Treaty of Knäred, Borgholm was handed back to the Swedish.
The castle was in a bad shape after the war and it took until 1654 before a restoration and reconstruction would begin. This time, the castle was to be turned into a baroque palace. Charles X Gustav was the king that ordered this, and Nicodemus Tessin the Elder was the architect that was used to fulfil the king's wishes. When Charles Gustaf died in 1660, the construction stopped, only to be restarted at a slow pace during the following kings Charles XI and Charles XII. In 1709, the construction was ended totally and finally.
For a hundred years, the palace was left to fall into decay. On 14 October 1806, the castle was turned into a ruin through a fire that started in the roof of the north wing. The castle of today is the ruins of the 17th century baroque palace Charles X Gustav had constructed. It is owned and superintended by the National Property Board of Sweden. It is open for visitors and holds a museum.References:
Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.
The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.
In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.
Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.
About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.
Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.
A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.