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:
Kroměříž stands on the site of an earlier ford across the River Morava. The gardens and castle of Kroměříž are an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens and described as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first residence on the site was founded by bishop Stanislas Thurzo in 1497. The building was in a Late Gothic style, with a modicum of Renaissance detail. During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was sacked by the Swedish army (1643).
It was not until 1664 that a bishop from the powerful Liechtenstein family charged architect Filiberto Lucchese with renovating the palace in a Baroque style. The chief monument of Lucchese's work in Kroměříž is the Pleasure Garden in front of the castle. Upon Lucchese's death in 1666, Giovanni Pietro Tencalla completed his work on the formal garden and had the palace rebuilt in a style reminiscent of the Turinese school to which he belonged.
After the castle was gutted by a major fire in March 1752, Bishop Hamilton commissioned two leading imperial artists, Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Josef Stern, arrived at the residence in order to decorate the halls of the palace with their works. In addition to their paintings, the palace still houses an art collection, generally considered the second finest in the country, which includes Titian's last mythological painting, The Flaying of Marsyas. The largest part of the collection was acquired by Bishop Karel in Cologne in 1673. The palace also contains an outstanding musical archive and a library of 33,000 volumes.
UNESCO lists the palace and garden among the World Heritage Sites. As the nomination dossier explains, 'the castle is a good but not outstanding example of a type of aristocratic or princely residence that has survived widely in Europe. The Pleasure Garden, by contrast, is a very rare and largely intact example of a Baroque garden'. Apart from the formal parterres there is also a less formal nineteenth-century English garden, which sustained damage during floods in 1997.
Interiors of the palace were extensively used by Miloš Forman as a stand-in for Vienna's Hofburg Imperial Palace during filming of Amadeus (1984), based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who actually never visited Kroměříž. The main audience chamber was also used in the film Immortal Beloved (1994), in the piano concerto scene.