Pfeffingen Castle is one of the largest castle ruins in the canton Basel-Land. In the area around Aesch and Pfeffingen existed originally a Franconian royal court. However, no remains have preserved from this time. In 1135 Notker von Pfeffingen was mentioned for the first time, which was probably related to Count von Saugers.
At the end of the 12th century, the Pfeffingen castle fell to the Count of Thierstein. In 1212 a family of Schaffner von Pfeffingen, who lived in the castle, was mentioned for the first time. In the mid-13th century the castle was comprehensively rebuilt. At this time, the curtain wall and the large residential tower were built. In 1335, the Bishop of Basel besieged the castle without success.
The great earthquake of Basel damaged Pfeffingen castle in 1356. When the Counts of Thierstein-Pfeffingen tried to expand their rule, it led into conflict with the city of Basel, whereupon Basel army successfully besieged the castle in 1376 and burned it down. The castle was restored after it.
In the 15th century Pfeffingen was conquered several times in wars between Austrian Habsburgs and Swiss armies (during the Old Zürich War). The castle, heavily damaged by the numerous wars, could not be maintained. In 1571, a new residential building was built as a replacement for the old residential tower, and a tower-defended gate and a bridge were built in the eastern part of the complex.
In the Thirty Years' War in 1637 the castle was occupied by Swedish troops under Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar and only eleven years later left in very poor condition to the bishop. Around 1750 the castle was finally abandoned by the Blarer family of Wartensee, who moved to the Aesch castle. Afterwards, a hermit lived temporarily in the castle. In 1761, the castle was auctioned on demolition and then fell rapidly.
After preparatory work in 2011 and 2012, construction work began in May 2013, overseen by ZPF Ingenieure. As the lime mortar that is used here can only be worked with when there is no frost, i.e. in the warmer half of the year, the work will take around six years. As the largest and most seriously damaged part of the ruins, the residential tower is to be reconstructed first. Here, there is a particular focus on sealing the coping and structurally securing unstable sections. The goal of the work is to repair the existing damage and to preserve the historical structure.
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.
Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.
In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.
The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.
In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.
After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.
In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.
Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.
In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.
In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.