The fine Gotlands Fornsal Museum provides comprehensive coverage of Visby's past. Housed in an 18th century distillery and a medieval warehouse, it holds five storeys of exhibition halls covering eight thousand years of history, as well as a good courtyard café and bookshop.
Among the most impressive sections are the Hall of Picture Stones, a collection of richly carved stones dating mostly from the 5th to 11th centuries, and the display of the Spillings Hoard – the richest of Gotland's seven hundred hoards. Found in 1999, this treasure, mostly from the Arab world, England and Germany, weighs 85 kilos. The Hall of Prehistoric Graves is equally fascinating, its glass cases displaying skeletons dating back six thousand years.
Other rooms trace the history of medieval Visby, with exhibits including a trading booth, where the burghers of Visby and foreign merchants dealt in commodities – furs, lime, wax, honey and tar – brought from all over Northern Europe. A series of tableaux brings the exhibition up to 1900, starting with Erik of Pomerania, the first resident of Visborg Castle, and leading on through the years of Danish rule, up to the island's 16th-century trading boom.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.