Hallwyl Castle is one of the most important moated castles in Switzerland. It is located on two islands in the River Aabach, just north of the northern end of Lake Hallwil. Since 1925, it has been open to the public, and since 1994 it has been owned by the canton of Aargau and is part of the museum of Aargau.
The first mention of the castle is in the year 1256. However, the originally free noble family of Hallwyl were first mentioned in a testament from 1167. Some discoveries indicate that the castle was founded in the late 12th century. Hallwyl Castle was the home castle of the Lords of Hallwyl, who owned the surrounding land and parts of the lake as their personal property. It consisted of a residential tower with a dry moat. In 1265 the keepwas expanded.
In the early 14th century the dry ditch was converted into a moat. The old castle tower was surrounded by a moat and a wall on what became the Rear Island. To the east of the Rear Island, an artificial island was built in the River Aabach. This island, the Front Island, was outfitted with a curtain wall, and was occupied by residential and commercial buildings. During the conquest of Aargau in 1415 by the Swiss Confederation, the castle (which was known after 1369 as the Ganerbenburg) was burnt by the Bernese troops. The castle was immediately rebuilt and expanded.
After the construction of two turrets in 1500 and 1579-1590 there was an extensive general renovation. After long neglect, the castle was partly rebuilt in neo-Gothic style in 1861 and 1870-74. However, this project was mostly reversed in 1914.
In 1925 the family foundation made an effort to preserve the castle. Since 1994, it has been in possession of the Canton of Aargau.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
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UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.