Prangins Castle is home to one part of the Swiss National Museum. At Prangins, the displays focus mainly on daily life in the castle and the region. There are also displays relating to Swiss history, as well as temporary exhibitions and cultural events. There is a café, serving drinks, snacks and lunch. The terrace has views of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
Prangins Castle has been a seat of power for centuries. The first record of the domain is from 1096. The current building dates from 1732, and has been extensively restored and furnished in the original style. The gardens are particularly unusual as they include an extensive sunken kitchen garden which has been replanted to match its original 18th century organisation.
An earlier building on the site was destroyed in 1293 by the Dukes of Savoy. It was rebuilt and changed hands repeatedly over the coming centuries. Nicholas de Diesbach enlarged the property in 1613. His family ceded the property to Emilie de Nassau in 1627. The demesne was sold in 1656.
It was sold again in 1719, this time to Jean Rieu, a Genevan citizen and a Paris banker. Four years later, in 1723, he passed it on to another Paris banker, Louis Guiguer who built the palace you see today. The building on the site was probably close to a ruin.
The castle was inherited by Guiger's nephew, Jean-George. He gave Voltaire, who was then exiled from France, the use of the property. In 1755 Jean-George Guiguer came to live at Prangins. He commissioned the temple and improved the gardens. After his death, Prangins passed to his son, Louis-François Guiguer de Prangins. Starting in 1771, Louis-François kept a journal detailing the daily life of the region. Over the following 15 years, he filled 7 volumes. His writings form a key part of the current museum offering.
His son and heir, Charles-Jules, became a general in the Swiss army. In 1814, he sold the castle to Joseph Bonaparte, the elder brother of Napoleon Bonaparte. From 1873 to 1920, the castle was used as a school by the Frères Moraves, a Protestant monastic order.References:
Ängsö Castle was first named as "Engsev" in a royal charter by king Canute I of Sweden (r. 1167-1196), in which he stated that he had inherited the property after his father Eric IX of Sweden. Until 1272, it was owned by the Riseberga Abbey, and then taken over by Gregers Birgersson.
From 1475 until 1710, it was owned by the Sparre family. The current castle was built as a fortress by riksråd Bengt Fadersson Sparre in the 1480s. In 1522, Ängsö Castle was taken after a siege by king Gustav Vasa, since its owner, Fadersson's son Knut Bengtsson, sided with Christian II of Denmark. However, in 1538 it was given by the king to Bengtsson's daughter Hillevi Knutsdotter, who was married to Arvid Trolle.
In 1710, the castle was taken over by Carl Piper and Christina Piper. Ängsö Castle was owned by the Piper family from 1710 until 1971, and is now owned by the Westmanna foundation. The castle building itself was made into a museum in 1959 and was made a listed building in 1965. It is currently opened to visitors during the summers.
The castle is a cubical building in four stores made by stone and bricks. The lower parts is preserved from the middle ages. It was redecorated and expanded in the 1630s. The 4th storey as well as the roof is from the expansion of Carl Hårleman from 1740-41. It gained its current appearance in the 1740s.