The Maienfeld area was an important Roman era customs station on the road between Turicum (Zurich) and Brigantium (Bregenz). After the Fall of the Western Roman Empirethe area probably remained a local population center and retained some of the Roman buildings and fortifications. During the High Middle Ages the Carolingian royal estate of curtis Lupinis was built in the area and the town of Maienfeld grew up around the castle. In the 10th century the Lords of Bregenz probably built a small fortified tower near or on the site of the current castle.
The castle was built in the 13th century for the Freiherr von Aspermont and was originally known as Maienfeld Castle. After 1359 the Toggenburg Counts began expanding the fortified tower into a larger residence castle. They regularly resided and held court in the castle. The last of the line, Frederick VII added a residential wing, the so-called Neue Schloss (New Castle), across the courtyard from the old castle.
During the 1499 Swabian War the Count von Brandis found themselves on the Habsburg side. On 7 February 1499, they opened the gates of Maienfeld to an approaching Habsburg army. However, six days later a Graubünden army attacked and captured the town and castle. They plundered the town and brought Sigmund and Türing Brandis as prisoners to Chur. They were brought to their brother Johannes von Brandis, the provost of Chur Cathedral, who was forced to sell Maienfeld to pay for their freedom. After several years of unsuccessful negotiations, in 1509 Maienfeld and Brandis Castle were sold to the Three Leagues for 20,000 gulden.
In 1622 a fire devastated much of Maienfeld but left Brandis unharmed. However, two years later it was burned by Austrian troops. It was repaired and continued to house the landvogt until about 1700. In 1799 it was occupied by French troops following their invasion of Switzerland. During their occupation, they stripped and burned most of the wood in the castle and left it as a ruin. In 1807 the municipality of Maienfeld acquired the rights to the ruined castle and sold it to a private owner in 1837. Around 1860 the so-called Frauenturm, a late-medieval round bastion in the south corner of the castle, was demolished. The main tower was repaired and expanded in 1868. A new roof was added the castle in 1906. It was purchased in 1969 by the Zindel family and renovated. In 1972/73 the history of the castle was explored through an archeological exploration.
Today the castle is home to a restaurant and several rooms which are available for events or meetings.
The castle is located on the south side of the old town of Maienfeld. On the north side of the complex is the main tower, a six story square tower with walls that are 2.5 m thick. The original high entrance was located on south-west side on the third story. The fifth story is decorated with paintings from about 1320. The works at Brandis are the only known works by an artist known as the Waltensburg master which are in a secular building. The paintings include scenes from the life of Samson and Theoderic the Great, depictions of inns or taverns and coats of arms.
Surrounding the tower on the east and west are a residential wing and the remains of the old part of the castle. North of the tower is a semi-circular part of the old ring wall. South of the tower is a courtyard and the new castle which was built in the 15th century under the Toggenburg counts.References:
Royal Palace of Naples was one of the four residences near Naples used by the Bourbon Kings during their rule of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1734-1860): the others were the palaces of Caserta, Capodimonte overlooking Naples, and the third Portici, on the slopes of Vesuvius.
Construction on the present building was begun in the 17th century by the architect Domenico Fontana. Intended to house the King Philip III of Spain on a visit never fulfilled to this part of his kingdom, instead it initially housed the Viceroy Fernando Ruiz de Castro, count of Lemos. By 1616, the facade had been completed, and by 1620, the interior was frescoed by Battistello Caracciolo, Giovanni Balducci, and Belisario Corenzio. The decoration of the Royal Chapel of Assumption was not completed until 1644 by Antonio Picchiatti.
In 1734, with the arrival of Charles III of Spain to Naples, the palace became the royal residence of the Bourbons. On the occasion of his marriage to Maria Amalia of Saxony in 1738, Francesco De Mura and Domenico Antonio Vaccaro helped remodel the interior. Further modernization took place under Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies. In 1768, on the occasion of his marriage to Maria Carolina of Austria, under the direction of Ferdinando Fuga, the great hall was rebuilt and the court theater added. During the second half of the 18th century, a 'new wing' was added, which in 1927 became the Vittorio Emanuele III National Library. By the 18th century, the royal residence was moved to Reggia of Caserta, as that inland town was more defensible from naval assault, as well as more distant from the often-rebellious populace of Naples.
During the Napoleonic occupation the palace was enriched by Joachim Murat and his wife, Caroline Bonaparte, with Neoclassic decorations and furnishings. However, a fire in 1837 damaged many rooms, and required restoration from 1838 to 1858 under the direction of Gaetano Genovese. Further additions of a Party Wing and a Belvedere were made in this period. At the corner of the palace with San Carlo Theatre, a new facade was created that obscured the viceroyal palace of Pedro de Toledo.
In 1922, it was decided to transfer here the contents of the National Library. The transfer of library collections was made by 1925.
The library suffered from bombing during World War II and the subsequent military occupation of the building caused serious damage. Today, the palace and adjacent grounds house the famous Teatro San Carlo, the smaller Teatrino di Corte (recently restored), the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, a museum, and offices, including those of the regional tourist board.