The oldest part of the Tschanüff castle is the main tower, which was built as a bergfried (a fighting tower without permanent inhabitants) in the 12th century for the Lords of Ramosch. A ring wall was added in the 13th century. On 12 March 1256 Count Meinhard of Tyrol granted the knight Nannes of Ramosch the right to build a castle at Ramosch. Since there was already a fortification, this permission was probably to expand the small tower into a much larger castle. The new castle allowed the Ramosch family to control trade and taxes throughout the Lower Engadine.
On 19 August 1317 Nannes and his brother Johannes split the fief into two shares. The successors of Johannes, Conrad and Schweiker, quarreled with each other over their inheritance. The conflict grew until in 1365 Duke Leopold of Austria was forced to intervene. The agreement between the brothers stated that they both accepted the Dukes of Austria as their overlord, the castle was to remain open to the Dukes and if they quarreled again the castle and surrounding lands would become property of Austria. Despite the severe conditions, Conrad and Schweiker quickly began fighting again and in 1367 Schweiker murdered Conrad and fled Tschanüff. As a sign of appreciation for his service in an Austrian war in Italy, the Duke appointed Ulrich of Matsch as owner of Tschanüff. The Matsch family took possession of the castle on 17 February 1369.
The Bishop of Chur also had a claim on the castle and fearing Austria's growing influence in the region, began reasserting his claim. In 1394 Bishop Hartmann forced the Lords of Matsch to give up the castle. However, in the following year, Matsch attacked and plundered the castle but retreated when the Bishop led an army toward Ramosch. In 1421 a peace treaty gave the castle to the Bishop and the Lords of Matsch were paid 2500 marks for their losses. The Bishops then appointed vogts to rule over the valley for the following centuries. In 1468 the castle was attacked by the League of God's House during a conflict with the Bishop. It may have been besieged during the Hennenkreig in 1475. During the Swabian War of 1499, the Bishop's own troops burned the castle to prevent it from falling into the Emperor's hands. In 1565 rebels against the Bishop attacked, plundered and burned the outer ward. The Lower Engadine residents were found liable for the damage and ordered to pay to rebuild the castle.
Until the 16th century the castle was known as Ramosch or Remüs after the Lords of Ramosch. In the 16th century it began to be known as Tschanüff which was Romansh for Casa nova or New House. This was to distinguish it from the nearby Serviezel Castle.
During the Bündner Wirren in 1622, the castle was captured and burned by troops from Glarus. It was quickly repaired and survived the rest of the tumult without being destroyed. Over the next century and a half the castle was once again used as the residence of the Bishop's appointed representative. In 1780 it was abandoned after part of the castle was destroyed in a landslide.
The complex consists of the main castle with its tower, residential tract and secondary buildings surrounded by a ring wall and a southern outer ward which is surrounded by another ring wall in varying thickness. The two parts were connected by the gateway, through which a vaulted passage led into the courtyard of the main castle. Numerous masonry joints and differences in the wall structure indicate that the building must have taken place in several stages. The oldest part is part of the ring wall on the southeast which may date to before 1200. The main tower to the north may be from before 1200 or the early 13th century. In the early 13th century, the ring wall and parts of the southern residential tract were added. The bergfried still has five floors with a high entrance on the fourth floor on the south side. Since the masonry of the tower is not connected to the surrounding walls, these must be more recent.
The building south of the tower could be reached via the high entrance. There are holes for wooden beams at a height of four floors, and towards the south the remains of an unusually thick wall. To the west is the southern tract from the 15th century, a four-storey, cross-divided building. The barrel vaults of the lower storeys are partly collapsed. On the third floor was a hall with a wooden ceiling, above it was a fighting platform with crenelations. The individual rooms were accessible from the courtyard side.
To the north of this wing was a recent building, of which only a few remains of the wall have been preserved. The south wing was completed by an older shield wall with a thickness of 3 meters, which was probably reinforced in the age of the firearms to twice the thickness. Together, the two walls now form a massive tower-shaped block with no interior divisions.
West of the main tower was a two-storey building dating from around 1500, Erwin Poeschel believed it to have been a kitchen or smithy, on the upper floor living quarters. The remains of a sgraffito decoration have been preserved in exterior plastering. Window openings in the western wall of the enclosure point to an original continuation to the west; However, these parts of the building collapsed during landslides.References:
The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.
A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.
In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.
In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.
In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.
From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.
In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.
The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.
In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.
The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.