Münchenstein Castle is a landmark above the village. The ruins can still be visited and viewed, but are under private ownership.
Around 1260, the up-rising cavalier family Münch acquired the village on the hills adjacent to the river Birs and established their estate there. The exact dates of the castle erection remains unclear, but most likely building began in the time between 1260 and 1270.
The founders of the castle on the rock were the father and son Hugo II Münch and Hugo III Münch. Then, under Hugo Münch IV, the castle was expanded and extended and a ring wall was built around the village during the following 60 years. The cavalier Münch named themselves henceforth Münch von Münchenstein. After 1279 the village Geckingen was called Münchenstein. The Münchs were not able to keep the village and castle for long as their own property. During 1280 they had to hand over the ownership to the Graf von Pfirt, who then lent it to the Münchs in fief.
In March 1324, after the death of the last Graf on Pfirt, Ulrich III, the castle and the village of Münchenstein was inherited by the Herzog of Austria, as heiress Johanna von Pfirt (1300-1351) was married to Herzog Albrecht II von Habsburg (1298-1358).
In the year 1334, the castle was completed and was at its largest. A few years later, the castle was damaged by the Basel earthquake on 18 October 1356, but it was soon restored to its original condition. At this time Konrad VIII (1324-1378), son of Hartmann I Münch von Münchenstein resided in Münchenstein castle. Konrad VIII (called 'Hape') married Katharina, the hereditary daughter from Löwenburg, in 1340. Katharina Münch von Münchenstein-Löwenberg died in 1371 and Konrad VIII inherited governance of Muttenz and the three fortresses in the district Wartenburg.
During the 'Old Zürich War', just before the Battle of St. Jakob an der Birs on 26 August 1444, the Solothurner conquered the castle on 17 June 1444 and they kept it occupied. Not until the year 1469 did the Münchs get their estate back. During 1470, Konrad Münch von Münchenstein had to sell the deeds to the city of Basel, but because he was the city reeve, he was allowed to live there in fief.
During the first half of the 15th century, the dynasty of the Münchs began to crumble, and because of the high fiefdom costs, they had to sell the estate to the city. The village and castle were reigned for 283 years by the city of Basel. This reign ended, however, after the French revolution and village and castle were sold to the municipality Münchenstein, who themselves sold (passed on) the properties to the villagers. The castle was also sold and used as a stone quarry to build new houses.
The ruins of Münchenstein Castle are situated on a long, but narrow rock. There are only slender remains of the walls to be seen, these are directly above the centre of the village.References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.