During the High Middle Ages a fortified church with a ring wall and perhaps a tower was built near the current Steinsberg Castle. By the end of the 12th century, these fortifications were demolished and a new castle was built above formerly fortified plateau and the Church of St. Lazius. It was probably built for a local noble family. In 1209 Albert von Frickingen sold all his estates and villages as well as the castle above Ardez to the Bishop of Chur. Count Albert von Tirol also had a claim on the lands, but in 1228 relinquished his claim to the Bishop of Chur. The castle became the center of the ecclesiastical estates in the area. In 1348 the Bishop pledgedthe castle and lands to the Planta family for a loan of 150 Marks. In 1359, the Bishop again pledged the castle to the Lords of Katzenstein for 700 Gulden. In 1411 it was pledged to Georg Scheck. Despite attempts from the Bishop to regain ownership of the castle, the Scheck family retained it until 1502.
In 1499, during the Swabian War, the castle was captured by imperial troops on 25 March. They burned the castle and the current owner Balthasar Scheck was taken to Merano and executed. In 1502 the heavily damaged castle was pledged to Hans von Planta. He and his son spent the remainder of the 16th century trying to get the Bishop of Chur to pay interest owed on the loan. At some point during that century, they abandoned the ruined castle. As the Three Leagues grew in power, they repeatedly denied the Bishop the right to appoint a vogt over Steinsberg. The nearby church was abandoned during the Protestant Reformation. In 1861 Emanuel von Planta-Wildenberg purchased the ruins and surrounding lands from the Bishop for 1000 Gulden. The ruins were repaired in 1964 and 1985.
The top of the hill has about 100 by 100 meters of space for buildings with steep sides all around. The castle occupies the highest point on the hill. Its four story keep was about 6.5 by 8.5 meters (21 ft × 28 ft) in size. The style of the stone work changes above the second story, indicating that it was either added later or repaired. The high entrance was to the south on the second floor. The upper stories have window seats from the 14th century and were either added then, or they were part of the new construction or repair. A residential wing was built east of the tower, against the ring wall. The castle was probably encircled by the ring wall, though only traces remain.
The ruins of the Romanesque church of St. Luzius are north of the castle. Unusually, the nave of this church runs north and south.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.