Graines castle occupies the summit of a rocky spur which commands Brusson and most of the Val d'Ayas. In medieval times, it communicated through flag or mirror messages with the nearby Bonot Tower and the Villa Castle in Challand-Saint-Victor.
The fief of Graines is documented since 515, when King Sigismund of Burgundy donated it to the newly formed Abbey of St. Maurice. The castle was perhaps built in the 11th century by its monks, who built the Romanesque chapel which is still visible in the interior.
In 1263 the abbey sold the fief to Godefroi of Challant, a faithful vassal of the House of Savoy, whose family held the castle until the 18th century. The castle was a stronghold of Catherine of Challant in her struggle for the family's inheritance. When the Challant disappeared in the 19th century, the castle was bought by Passerin d'Entrèves family, who later sold it to the commune of Brusson. The castle was restored in the early 20th century by Alfredo d'Andrade and Giuseppe Giacosa.
The castle had the typical layout of Aosta Valley early medieval castles. It had an irregular line of walls measuring c. 80 x 50 m, which housed a series of structures such as the large donjon (square tower) and a small chapel, the only ones remaining now.
The donjon is square in plan, with a side of more than 5.5 m. It was the castle's keep and the residence of the castellan or the lord. The entrance was at some five metres from the ground, and could be accessed only by a ladder which could be removed during sieges. A wing was later added to enlarge the tower.
The Romanesque chapel, dedicated to St. Martin, has a single nave with a length of eight metres, ending in a semicircular apse. The ceiling had crumbled down.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.