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 Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.
According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.
In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.
The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.
The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.
In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.
The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.