According to legend, the first castle on the site of Grasburg was built by a Roman hunter who saw the massive sandstone spire on an island in the Sense river. He saw a red deer on the cliff over the river and went to catch it. As he rode after the deer a dragon roared out of a cave, but the hunter quickly killed the dragon. The deer then walked up to the hunter and offered his life to the hunter. The hunter allowed the deer to go free and the deer gave him possession of the area. The hunter than built the first castle on the top of the sandstone spire on the island. A bridge was built over the river and became part of the Roman road from Aventicum. The legend continues that after the Roman Empire collapsed, a Walliser robber took over the old Roman castle as a new hideout. He began to hire local villagers to help him expand the castle toward the east. Initially he acted friendly and kind, but when the workers complained of the work or asked for pay, he murdered them and mixed their blood into the mortar. This, according to legend, is why the mortar on the east side is particularly hard. While the Romans lived in the area, there is no archeological evidence of a Roman or early medieval fortification.
Despite the local legends, the first castle on the site may have been a wooden fortification, but the oldest stone walls are from the 11th or 12th century. It was probably built by a Burgundian or Zähringen noble. The castle was first mentioned in 1223 as Grasburc. In the same year, a knight, Otto von Grasburg was mentioned at the castle, followed in 1228 by the knight Kuno von Grasburg. In the 13th century the castle and lands passed to the Kyburgs and then after their family died out in 1263/64 the Habsburgs beat out the Counts of Savoy to inherit it. Under the Habsburgs several Ministerialis (unfree knights in the service of a feudal overlord) families held the castle.
In 1310 Henry VII, the King of Germany, pledged the castle and surrounding Herrschaft to Count Amadeus of Savoy to pay debts. The Counts held the estate for over a century, until the remote location and gradual decay forced them to sell the castle and territory to Bern and Fribourg in 1423. The two cities established a condominium or shared rule over the land. The castle served as the residence and administrative center for the vogts that were appointed by alternating cities. In 1575 the increasingly expensive castle was abandoned and the vogt moved to Schwarzenburg Castle. The castle gradually fell into ruin and in 1845 the Canton of Bern sold the ruins to a private owner. In 1894 the city of Bern bought the ruins and began restoring them. By the spring of 1902, the main tower was about ready to collapse. The Canton spent four years repairing and reinforcing the tower. Another project in 1928-31 repaired and restored other parts of the castle ruins. A third project in 1983-84 restored and repaired the ruins further.References:
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.