Nääs Castle is a 17th century mansion near Gothenburg, Sweden. In the later half of the 19th century Nääs became world renowned through its Crafts College and for more than 50 years it was regarded as 'Swedens window to the world'.
According to legend, King Kristian II built a castle for hunting parties at Näs. The first historical evidence on Nääs Estate however, derives from record dated 3 October 1529. The first known owner, Joen Småswen, constructed a large manor on the promontory in Lake Savelången. At the end of the 16th century the estate was owned by the governor of west Sweden, Göran Eriksson Ulfsparre. It was subsequently owned by Ulfsparres family members and the noble families Lilliehöök, Natt och Dag, Cronsköld, Oxenstierna, Göthenstierna, von Utfall and Reenstierna.
1824 the estate was sold to Peter Wilhelm Berg, a wholesaler from Gothenburg. After his death the property was divided between his surviving children (only 3 out of his 10 children survived childhood). Bergs’ son Theodor and his daughter Nensy were allotted Nääs factories. The youngest son, Gottfrid, received the rest of the estate, including the mansion. A memorial stone to the 7 dead brothers and sisters was raised in the Castle gardens at the northern side of the mansion. In 1868 the mansion and associated land was sold to August Abrahamson, yet another wholesaler from Gothenburg. Abrahamson founded the famous Crafts College and donated the entire property to the State after his death in 1897, in order to secure continuity for the Nääs educational programme.
The main building on the cultural heritage site of Nääs estate, Nääs Castle, is now museum open to the public, daily between May-September (only guided tours) as well as for pre-booked group-appointments outside of the tourist season.
The estate exists of a number of historic buildings open to the public. In addition to a restaurant, café, art & crafts shop and west Sweden’s very own heritage foundation, byggnadsvård Nääs, a range of exciting public events are organized each year (more information and Nääs Castle and Crafts College home page). Art & Crafts courses, though in a far lesser extent, are still practiced in one of the buildings.
The old stable is now home to a horse riding school and Nääs horse association. Beside several nature and walking trails, Nääs estate also provides Bed & Breakfast as well as conference accommodations. During the summer several craft courses are held at the ’Slöjdseminariet’, the crafts college official building.
Nääs Castle and Crafts College is administered and maintained by August Abrahamsons foundation, a Swedish government administration.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.