Riom was inhabited during the Roman era, from the 1st century through the 4th. During this time, it was a mansion or way-station along the Julier Pass road. After the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, farmers and herders continued to live here during the Early Middle Ages. In 840 it was personally owned by the king of Raetia Curiensis and was a local administrative center as well as the site of major church. The church was given by King Arnulf to a vassal of his named Ruotpert, who in 904 traded it to Lorsch Abbey. Riom and the surrounding lands eventually passed to the Knights of Wangen-Burgeis in the early 13th century and around 1226 they built Riom Castle.
The original castle consisted of a slender, tall bergfried and an attached two story palas. Not long after, a third story was added to the palas. These buildings were surrounded with a ring wall. The gatehouse was demolished in the past few centuries and no trace of it remains.
The castle and surrounding estates were sold by Berall von Wangen in 1258 to the Bishop of Chur for 300 silver Marks. However, to purchase the estates the Bishop had to put the castle up as collateral to secure a loan from the Freiherr von Vaz. In 1275 the Bishop paid off the loan and made Riom the center of the bailiwick of Oberhalbstein. Tolls and taxes from trade over the Julier and Septimer Passes brought a steady stream of money into the castle. By the early 14th century the Marmels family were the bailiffs of Riom, a post they held until 1426. During the 15th and 16th centuries a number of other noble Graubünden families were bailiffs at Riom. In 1468 Bishop Ortlieb von Brandis angered the League of God's House. They assembled an army, attacked several of the Bishop's estates, including Riom and Greifenstein, and occupied them. The Bishop was forced to ask the city of Zürich to intervene. Zürich negotiated with the League and convinced them to return the castles to the Bishop.
The Ilanzer Article of 1526 eliminated the worldly power of the Bishop, but change came slowly to the valley. In 1552 the communities of Surses bought their freedom from the Bishop, eliminating the need for a bailiff in the castle. Over the following centuries, the castle was used as the meeting place for the Landsgemeinde. The Surses high courtcontinued to meet in the castle and during any witch trials the accused witches were held and tortured in the castle. In 1867 a fire destroyed much of the village, though the castle was preserved. However, the need for wood to rebuild was so dire that the roofs and floors were stripped out of the castle. Without protection from the elements the castle began to deteriorate until the palas and bergfried roofs were replaced in the 20th century.
The large three story palas is about 12 by 34 meters. After the fire on 1867 the old roof and floors were stripped off the castle, allowing rain in and damaging the walls. Originally the walls were crowned with merlons, in 1977 when a gable roof was added to protect the walls the merlons were removed. The old second story entrance into the palas is located on the south side and is accessible via a wooden stairway. A ground level entrance was added in the 1930s.
The bergfried is a six story tower that is only 7 m × 7 m at the ground. The tower was never intended to be permanently occupied, instead it was built to defend the castle. The thick walls and narrow firing slits made the interior very cramped. The tower roof was stripped after the 1867 fire and replaced with a new roof in 1936.
In 2006 a theater with 220 seats opened in the palas and every summer is home to the Origen Festival Cultural, a Romansh cultural festival.References:
Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.
The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.
In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.