Schwarzenburg Castle was built in 1573-76 to replace the increasingly expensive to maintain Grasburg Castle. From the beginning it was built as an administrative center for the Grasburg district and as a home for the governor. Grasburg was a shared condominium between the Cantons of Bern and Fribourg so the governor was appointed by each Canton in turn. Following the 1798 French invasion, Schwarzenburg Castle and the district became part of Bern permanently. The castle remained the administrative center of the Schwarzenburg District until the District was dissolved in 2010 as part of a major reorganization in the Canton. The castle was no longer needed and was one of twelve that the Canton offered for sale. It was the first of that group that sold, when the Canton accepted the offer of the Schwarzenburg Castle foundation (Stiftung Schloss Schwarzenburg) before the reorganization was complete. Today the castle is used for art exhibits and can be rented for celebrations and meetings.
The castle was built as an administrative center and manor house rather than as a pure defensive structure. The main building is a three-story rectangular building with a half-hipped roof. An octagonal staircase tower topped with a pointed roof links the levels together. An enclosed courtyard links the main building to a gatehouse and the granary. However, the walls, towers and gatehouse were built to make it into an impressive government building, not for defensive purposes. Many of the rooms still feature the original coffered ceilings from 1575. The main entrance moved to the north side in the 18th century. The new entrance was decorated in the Louis XVI style and a fountain topped with an obelisk. The attached granary was rebuilt in the mid-18th century and again in 1983.References:
The Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg is situated in a strategic area on a rocky spur overlooking the Upper Rhine Plain, it was used by successive powers from the Middle Ages until the Thirty Years' War when it was abandoned. From 1900 to 1908 it was rebuilt at the behest of the German kaiser Wilhelm II. Today it is a major tourist site, attracting more than 500,000 visitors a year.
The first records of a castle built by the Hohenstaufens date back to 1147. The fortress changed its name to Koenigsburg (royal castle) around 1157. The castle was handed over to the Tiersteins by the Habsburgs following its destruction in 1462. They rebuilt and enlarged it, installing a defensive system designed to withstand artillery fire.
The fortification work accomplished over the 15th century did not suffice to keep the Swedish artillery at bay during the Thirty Years War, and the defences were overrun.