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:
The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.
The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.
In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.
In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.
After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.
In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.
In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.