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:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.