The castle-palace of Belalcázar is one of the most representative of the 15th century, when the nobility attempted to demonstrate its social and economic status.
Built entirely of stone blocks, Belalcazar preserves two enclosures: an outer barrier adapted to the irregularities of the land and reinforced with rectangular towers, and the inner rectangular castle-palace with eight towers, one at each corner and another in the center of each side. All eight towers are of average height except for the eastern and principal tower, which rises noticeably above the rest.
In the 15th century, some Renaissance construction was added to improve the accommodations of the palace, which were insufficient in the old principal tower.The castle was built by the magnate Gutierre de Sotomayor, grand master of Alcantara, with the benefices he earned from his various possessions. The castle later passed on to the houses of Benavente and Osuna. In 1811, during the War of Independence, French troops defended the castle against a siege by the duke of Wellington's British troops.The exterior of the fortress is almost entirely intact, but nothing remains of the interior structure.References:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.