Schenkenberg castle was probably built in the early 13th century for the Habsburgs dynasty, both as a headquarters and to protect core areas around Brugg. The first written mention of the castle took place in 1243 when the Lords of Schenkenberg, a Habsburg vassel, were granted land around the castle. The ownership changed multiple times as the Habsburgs granted it to other vassels.
After the Habsburg defeat at the Battle of Sempach, they fell into financial difficulties and had to mortgage the castle. In 1415 the Habsburgs fell into disfavor with King Sigismund, after the Swiss Confederatesconquered the Aargau. The area on the left side of the Aare, including the Schenkenberger valley remained unchanged for the time being. However, in 1417, King Sigismund put the castle under his direct protection. The holder of the castle, Margaret of Fridlingen, sold the castle and the related rights in 1431 to Baron Thüring of Aarburg.
The bailiwick of Schenkenberg was at that time a fairly sovereign state. It extended over a large part of today's Brugg District. In 1451 Thüring ran into financial problems and sold the title and rights to his son-in-law Hans von Baldegg and Hans' brother Markwart. The Baldegger, who had fought on the side of the Habsburgs in 1386, allied themselves with Austria and pointedly drew the ire of the Confederates on himself. Increasingly, there were disputes with the citizens of the town of Brugg, who were subjects of Bern. In 1460 Bern finally had enough of the permanent provocations and occupied the castle driving out the Baldeggers.
The damage to the castle following the fight was immediately repaired. The castle became the seat of the Bernese bailiff and the center of the Herrschaft of Schenkenberg in the Bernese Aargau. The Baldeggers tried several times, by diplomatic and legal as well as in the Swabian War of 1499, to regain their castle and title. However they were always unsuccessful. Hans von Baldegg, the last of his line, died in 1510 of the plague.
Schenkenberg castle was in the northeastern corner of the territory of Bern, near the border with western Austria. Due to this strategic location Bern fortified the castle, but spent little in maintenance. In the early 18th Century, the castle became so dilapidated that the Governor and his family feared for their lives because the walls regularly crumbled. Finally the Council of the City of Bern gave up the castle, and the Governor moved in 1720 to the nearby Castle Wildenstein in Veltheim.
The castle fell into disrepair and was used as a quarry by the farmers of the area. In 1798 it became the property of the newly formed Canton of Aargau, the legal successor of the city of Bern. In 1837, the castle was purchased from a dubious, 'Herr von Schenkenberg', who, however, disappeared without a trace shortly thereafter. The castle was virtually abandoned for several decades. In a storm in 1917 east wall collapsed. The collapse spurred the authorities to declare the castle as unclaimed property, and put it up for auction in May 1918. For the symbolic sum of 50 francs it was sold to the Historical Preservation Society of Aargau. The building was repaired and extensive conservation was carried out.References:
The St Sophia's Cathedral was built between 1045-1050 inside the Novgorod Kremlin (fortress). It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. The cathedral was built by Prince Vladimir, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, and until the 1130s this principal church of the city also served as the sepulchre of Novgorodian princes. For the Novgorodians, St Sophia became synonymous with their town, the symbol of civic power and independence.
The five-domed church looks simpler but no less impressive than its prototype, the thirteen-domed St Sophia of Kiev. The cathedral exterior is striking in its majesty and epic splendour evoking the memories of Novgorod's glorious past and invincible might. In the 11th century it looked more imposing than now. Its facade represented a gigantic mosaic of huge, coarsely trimmed irregular slabs of flagstone and shell rock. In some places (particularly on the apses), the wall was covered with mortar, smoothly polished, drawn up to imitate courses of brick or of whitestone slabs, and slightly coloured. As a result, the facade was not white, as it is today, but multicoloured. The play of stone, decorative painting and the building materials of various texture enhanced the impression of austere simplicity and introduced a picturesque effect.
The two-storied galleries extend along the building's southern, western and northern sides, with a stair-tower constructed at the north-eastern corner. The cathedral has three entrances - the southern, western and northern, of which the western was the main one intended for ceremonial processions. A gate standing at the entrance is known as the Sigtuna Gate (mid-12th century); according to legend, it was brought from the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. The second name of the gate derives from the town of Magdeburg, where it was made. The two leaves are decorated with biblical and evangelical scenes in cast bronze relief. In the lower left corner there are portraits of the craftsmen who created this superb specimen of medieval Western European bronze-work. An inscription in Latin gives their names, Riquin and Weissmut. The small central figure - judging from an inscription in Slavonic - is a representation of the Russian master craftsman Avraam, who assembled the gate.
There is yet another bronze gate in the cathedral, called the Korsun Gate. Made in the 11th century in Chersonesos, Byzantium, it leads from the southern gallery into the Nativity Side-Chapel. Legend has it that the gate was handed over to Novgorod as a gift of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (c. 978 - 1054).
The interior of the cathedral is as majestic as its exterior. It is divided by huge piers into five aisles, three of which end in altar apses. In the south-western corner, inside the tower, there is a wide spiral in relatively small, modest buildings of the 12th - 16th centuries.