The Hexenturm is a stone tower in Sarnen. The name ('Witch tower') refers to it being used as a prison for suspected witches in the 17th century. Today it houses the Cantonal Archives of Obwalden.
The tower was built around 1285/86 as the residence tower of larger castle complex, the Unteren Burg von Sarnen or Lower Sarnen Castle. The castle was built for the von Kellner family who were knights in service to the Murbach Abbey. The first member of the family to appear in records is the cellarius Heinrich at the monastery in 1229. The family name may be a form of the title and office that he held. The sons of Heinrich and his brothers were the knights Niklaus and Heinrich Kellner who built the castle. Niklaus probably lived in Sarnen, while his brother lived in Lucerne. In 1291 the Habsburgsbought the town of Lucerne and the Unterwalden estates, including the castle and surrounding farms, from Murbach Abbey. The Kellner family became vassals of the Habsburg-Laufenburg line. When the Everlasting League was created on 1 August 1291, the Kellners found themselves at odds with their neighbors and by 1308 they had been driven out. The last Kellner, Heinrich, died in 1348.
After the Kellners were forced out, the Landenburg family occupied the castle. The 15th century White Book of Sarnen contains a story about how in the early 14th century local Swiss patriots stormed a castle and burned it on Christmas Eve while the pro-Habsburg nobleman was attending Mass. Traditionally it was believed that the attack happened to nearby Landenberg Castle, though more recent research indicates that it may have been the Hexenturm.
By the 15th century, the tower was a prison for the Canton of Obwalden. In the 16th century it was repaired and occasionally used to store powder and records. During the 17th century witch-hunts the tower was used to hold accused witches, leading to the name. At some time before 1798 the prison cell at the top of the tower was demolished. The fortifications around the tower gradually fell into disrepair and in the 19th century were demolished and replaced with terraces. In 1877 it was supposed to become a museum. A new entrance was built and some of the old windows were bricked up, but the museum never opened. Today the cantonal archives are stored in the tower.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.