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:
The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.
The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.
After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.
The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.
Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.
The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.