The Château de Landskron is situated in the southern part of Alsace, mere footsteps away from Switzerland. The castle was built before 1297. It had a very important strategic position in that it allowed the control of the Eastern Sundgau, the elbow of the Rhine and the city of Basel.
Several disputes concerning the ownership have been reported. Like the Château de Ferrette and Château de Morimont, the Château de Landskron was owned by Habsburg for a time. In 1462, the castle was given to the Lord of the Bailiwick of Lupfen, Sébastien de Reichenstein, who later enlarged and transformed the castle to adapt it to firearms in 1516.
In 1648, by the Peace of Westphalia which ended the Thirty Years' War, the lands and lordships of the Habsburgs in Alsace, including the Château de Landskron, passed into the hands of the King of France. After 1665, Vauban was responsible for rebuilding the castle into a military garrison, while many other Alsatian castles were abandoned and gradually destroyed.
In the 1690s, it was used as a state prison. The few prisoners who were imprisoned there until the French Revolution were predominantly political prisoners and the mentally ill. Bernard Duvergez, a courtier at the French court, was held there from 1769 until 1790 when he was discovered by revolutionaries looking for political prisoners. He died while waiting for them to find him a better place. He is the subject of a local novel, The Prisoner of Landskron.
The castle survived the Revolution, whereas the houses of the wealthy in Leyman were burned. The castle was destroyed in 1813 by the Austrian and the Bavarian armies fighting Napoléon Bonaparte.
After that time it was a ruin. In the 1970s, the former owners installed a colony of monkeys into the ruins. Since 1984, the castle has belonged to the Association pour la Sauvegarde du Château de Landskron and was partly restored in 1996.
One of the main characteristics of the castle is its big rectangular tower or keep.
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.