During the High Middle Ages the land that would become Burgdorf was owned by the Kingdom of Burgundy and then after 1080 by the Dukes of Zähringen. Either the kings or the dukes built a castle on the left bank of the Emme river, this castle was first mentioned in 1080.

Under Duke Berthold V, in 1200, Burgdorf Castle was expanded. The old castle consisted of a gatehouse and attached wall. Berthold V added a tower, donjon and a hall that connected the two. The old market and town was north of the castle at the foot of the hill.

After the extinction of Zähringen line, Burgdorf passed to the Counts of Kyburg. Under the Kyburg or Neu-Kyburg Counts, Burgdorf Castle was the capital of the county, and the Counts were the mayors of Burgdorf town. Under the Kyburgs, additional fortifications were added to the castle. The northern curtain wall was extended and two half-round towers were added. The eastern end and the western hall were built up and expanded. When the Kyburg line died out in 1264, the castle passed to Eberhard of Habsburg, who was married to Anna of Kyburg. Eberhard then became the Count of Neu-Kyburg.

In the 14th century, the Neu-Kyburgs became increasingly indebted. On 11 November 1382, Count Rudolf II of Neu-Kyburg, launched a raid against the city of Solothurn to try and force the city to forgive his debts. For the city of Bern, this attack on an allied city represented an excellent opportunity for the city to break its ties with the Neu-Kyburgs. In March 1383 the Bernese-Solothurn army marched on Burgdorf. The army besieged the city for 45 days, but was unsuccessful. However, on 5 April 1384 the Neu-Kyburg counts were forced to sell the towns and castles of Burgdorf and Thun to Bern for 37,800 guilders in exchange for peace.

After the Burgdorf war, the castle became the seat of the Bernese administrator. Under the Bernese administrator, the castle was again modified. The Kyburg additions to the large hall were demolished in 1540. A new gatehouse was built on the old foundations in 1559. A small stair tower was added in 1580 to the donjon. A new wing was added east of the courtyard in 1729, which contained both apartments and a granary.

During the 1798 French invasion and the creation of the Helvetic Republic, the last Bernese administrator, Rudolf of Erlach, worried that the castle would be plundered or burned. He moved all the government records to a nearby church. The castle was spared and the documents remained safe. Under the Helvetic Republic, the castle served, first, as a military hospital. Then, in 1800, the famous educator, Heinrich Pestalozzi established a school in the castle. Only four years later, the cantonal administration took over the castle and converted it into government offices. In 1886 the castle was renovated and the Castle Museum opened in the so-called Knight's Hall.

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Details

Founded: 11th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Switzerland

User Reviews

Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wroclaw Town Hall

The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.

The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.

Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.

The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.

Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.

The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.

During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.

In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.