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Mörsburg Castle

Mörsburg Castle near Wiesendangen (Switzerland)

You may be wondering what Mörsburg Castle has to do with Nahe Valley and Hunsrück, given the distance of some 200 miles. Actually, it is the most significant Romanesque building of the Nahe-Hunsrück region, the former monastery church of St. Martin in Sponheim, that establishes the relation. This monastery church along with the Convent of Canons were endowed in the year 1124 by Earl Meginhard von Nellenburg and his wife Mechthild, and Mechtild was born in Mörsburg Castle. This is noteworthy for two reasons: firstly, Mechtild is one of the few women of that time period who found entrance into the history books and, therefore, must have been an influential celebrity of that time; secondly, it is quite remarkable for that period that a woman from Switzerland came to the Nahe-Hunsrück region, presumably with a lot of new ideas and concepts.

We do not know when and where Earl Meginhard from the Nahe Valley and Mechthild from the rather distant Mörsburg Castle met for the first time. It could well be that the Earl visited his relatives on Nellenburg Castle near Stockach in the Lake Constance region, which lies quite close to Mörsburg Castle (some 40 miles distance). In any case, Earl Meginhard was certainly not only deeply impressed by his bride Mechtild, but also by the dreamlike location of Mörsburg Castle from where one has a wonderful view over the snow-covered alps. In fact, Mörsburg Castle has been built on a scenic hill, surrounded by green meadows and deep forests. In this context it is also worth noting that from this time on the family carried the title «Earls of Sponheim» consistent with their seat in the Nahe Valley.

History: Mörsburg Castle is located directly above the hamlet «Stadel» and is part of the municipality of Winterthur. In the days of its glory, the castle was comprised of several large buildings arranged in a well-fortified structure. The castle's very beginnings date back to the 11th century when Earl Adalbert von Mörsburg (-Nellenburg) initiated a major extension and fortification of an earlier manor house. In the year 1241, the first preserved documentary mention refers to the Counts of Kyburg as legitimate owners. This is also the period (around 1250) in which the castle's early-gothic chapel was integrated in the central building (keep). A few years later (1273) the castle fell to Earl Rudolf von Habsburg by inheritance. It was then given as a fief to the reeve of the town of Oberwinterthur. During the Sempacher and Appenzeller wars the castle was completely destroyed by the Swiss Confederation, except for the keep (1386). Twohundred years later the city of Winterthur purchased the estate (1598) and upgraded the building such that it could serve as the district administrators' mansion. Today, the tower house with its early-gothic chapel, the ruins of the nights' house along with the foundations of several other buildings can be visited by tourists, thus giving witness of history and cultural heritage. Of particular interest is the widely visible «Megalith Stonework» with a wall thickness of up to 5 meters. The tower house hosts the museum of the Historic Society of Winterthur with very instructive exhibitions. The castle's banquet hall with its impressive stuccowork is used for official events.

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