The Wasserkirche ('Water Church') of Zürich was first mentioned around 1250. It seems likely that the original building was used for cult meetings. The meetings were centred on a stone now located in the crypt of the church. According to medieval tradition, the site was used for the execution of Saints Felix and Regula. The church was built in the 10th century and modified at various points, culminating in a complete reconstruction that was completed in 1486.
During the course of the Reformation, the Wasserkirche was identified as a place of idolatry. Eventually it was secularised, becoming the first public library of Zürich in 1634, when it became a seat of learning that greatly contributed to the foundation of University of Zürich in the 19th century. The island was connected with the right bank of the Limmat in 1839 with the construction of the Limmatquai. The library was merged into the Zentralbibliothek in 1917, and the church was used as a storage room for crops for some time, until reconstruction work and archaeological excavations were undertaken in 1940. Following this the building was again used for services by the Evangelical-Reformed State Church of the Canton of Zürich.
The Helmhaus is an extension of the church to the north, first mentioned in 1253 as a court of criminal justice, at which time it was a simple wooden structure covering the eastern end of the bridge. It was extended to a larger wooden structure in 1563, and replaced with a stonework hall in 1791.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.