Böttstein Castle was built in the 12th century for the Barons of Böttstein. After the extinction of the Böttstein line, the castle became the property of the Barons of Tiefenstein in the 13th century. In 1361 the Lords of Wessenberg were granted the castle and surrounding villages as a fief by Duke Rudolf of Austria. After the Old Swiss Confederacy conquered the Aargau in 1415, the local rulers and their jurisdiction remained the same, only the overlords changed. The villages and castle passed through a number of owners until 1563 when they were sold to the Lords of Hallwil. After passing through several other owners on 5 June 1606 the von Roll brothers, Johann Peter, Johann Walter and Karl Emanuel, bought Böttstein.

In the same year, the von Roll brothers demolished parts of the old castle and began building a new castle and chapel. In 1654 the von Roll estates were divided and Johann Peter inherited the castle. It passed down to his son Karl Ernst, who only had a daughter, named Anna Maria Magdalena von Roll. In 1674 she married Johann Martin Schmid von Bellikon, bringing castle into the von Bellikon family. They owned the surrounding villages until the 1798 French Invasion and the creation of the Helvetic Republic abolished much of the power of the nobility. Böttstein became part of the Helvetic Canton of Baden until the collapse of the Republic and the 1803 Act of Mediation in which the modern Canton of Aargau was created. Despite losing their power over the village, the family retained the castle until 1893. The following year the castle became a monastery of a spiritual organization that called itself Internationales Töchterinstitut (International Daughter's Institute). The Institute quickly disbanded and the castle passed through a number of owners until 1965.

In that year it was acquired by Nordostschweizerische Kraftwerke AG (today Axpo Holding), an association of cantonal power companies in north-east Switzerland. The castle was used to provide office space for the technical department during construction of the Beznau Nuclear Power Plant. It was renovated in 1971-1974 and converted into a country restaurant and hotel.

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Founded: 12th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Switzerland

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Panduranga G L (2 years ago)
Very cosy hotel's, nicely decorated, furnished rooms, even breakfast also good, good ambience, service oriented people, nice environment sourndings
Andrew Gray (2 years ago)
Nice but could be better
Jana Müller (3 years ago)
Very helpful staff, lovely quiet surrounding. Wonderful breakfast/brunch on weekends. The old buildings are restored beautifully.
Ilario Musio (3 years ago)
Great ambience
John Rayne (3 years ago)
Enjoyed a pleasant afternoon in wonderful surrounding s Food was good but not a lot of choice if a veggie On our visit no fish available so very restricted on choice Meat eaters will love it
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Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.