Jörgenberg Castle was built in the 8th century as a fortified church, on lands donated by the Frankish kings. In the 765 testament of Bishop Tello it was referred to as a castellum on Jörgenberg hill. At the beginning of the 9th century it was called ecclesia sancti Georgii in Castello or St. George's Church in a Castle. The current castle and church were probably built on the site of an earlier walled church. The timbers in the bell tower have been dated to 1070. Over the following centuries the church became a medieval feudal castle and in 1265 the main tower was completed.
In the 14th century the castle appears in the historical record in the possession of the Freiherr von Fry(i)berg, who were vassals of the powerful Vaz family. In 1333 a coalition of religious and secular lords fought against the Vaz and their vassals, including the Frybergs. Both Jörgenberg and the nearby village and castle of Siat were captured by the coalition. The peace treaty on 1333 returned the castles, but the Freiherr von Rhäzüns had some type of a claim on it. However, a few years later the last member of the Vaz family, Donat, died leaving the Frybergs without a powerful patron. To avoid losing their estates, they sold Siat and Jörgenberg to the Dukes of Austria and then received them back as a fief. In 1342 the last male heir of the Fryberg family, Reinher, died and the Austrians gave the castle to the Counts of Werdenberg. The Freiherr von Rhäzüns demanded the castles based on his claim from 1333 and began attacking the Austrians in the region. During the fighting the main tower was burned. The peace treaty of 1343 placed the fate of the castle in the hands of an arbitrator, who granted the castle to Rhäzüns.
Beginning around 1351 the Rhäzüns family rebuilt the burned tower and added a palas to the north-west corner. In 1378 they bought the nearby Herrschaft of Grünenfels and combined the two into the Herrschaft of Jörgenberg. They appointed vogts to administer the herrschaft for the following century. In 1458 Jörgenberg passed to the Counts von Zollern. The local farmers and villagers disliked the foreign Swabian Zollerns and refused to pay them homage and often rose up in rebellion. A little over a decade later, in 1472, the Zollerns got rid of the troublesome province by selling it to the Abbot of Disentis Abbey. Under the abbot the castle remained the administrative and judicial center of the herrschaft. A pair of stone gallows pillars were built near the castle for executions. In 1539 the Protestant Reformation swept through the area, eliminating much of the Abbey's secular and judicial power and forcing the Abbey to sell Jörgenberg to Mathias Rung von Waltersburg. At that time the castle and church were still in good condition. In 1580 Mathias Rung sold the castle to L. Gandreya, whose family held it for more than a century. During the 17th century it was abandoned and began to fall into ruin. In 1705 they sold the ruins to the municipality. In 1734 the Abbot of Disentis surrendered all his rights to Waltensburg, but retained the title of Lord of Jörgenberg.
In 1931-32 the castle ruins were excavated, cleaned and reinforced. It was repaired again in 1998–2001.
The castle sprawls across a 100 by 70 meters plateau atop St. George's hill east of Waltensburg/Vuorz. Most of the church is in ruins, but the Romanesque bell tower is still standing. The slender tower is decorated with blind arches and was built around 1070. The mostly ruined walls of the church were built in the 12th or 13th centuries, though the northern wall was rebuilt in 1930. The church has a broad nave with a horse-shoe shaped apse and a choir of tuff blocks.
The castle was built in the 12th and 13th century. The five-story main tower was finished around 1265. It is a Romanesque building with round arch windows in the upper two stories. The palas was built around 1351 and was expanded with additional housing later. The ring wall along the northern side of the plateau was also added later.
The two stone pillars of the old gallows are located west of the castle.References:
Castel del Monte, located in the municipality of Andria, rises on a rocky hill dominating the surrounding countryside of the Murgia region. A unique piece of medieval architecture, it was completed in 1240. The castle’s location, its perfect octagonal shape, as well as the mathematical and astronomical precision of its layout all reflect the broad education and cultural vision of its founder, Emperor Frederick II.
As a leader of modern humanism, the Germanic Emperor brought scholars together in his court from throughout the Mediterranean, combining Eastern and Western traditions. The castle’s unique design, an octagonal plan with octagonal towers at each angle, represents a search for perfection. Interior features reflect Eastern influences, such as the innovative hydraulic installation used by Frederick II for bathing in accord to the typical Arabic customs.
The site is of outstanding universal value in its formal perfection and its harmonious blending of cultural elements from northern Europe, the Muslim world and classical antiquity. Castel del Monte is a unique masterpiece of medieval architecture, reflecting the humanist ideas of its founder, Frederick II of Hohenstaufen.