Schloss GeschichteHistory Schloss Laufen

A landscape of cliffs and rock, lords and vassals, battles for power and the end of feudal society… The rushing waters of the Rhine Falls have been a constant witness to the unfolding of Schloss Laufen’s exciting history.

The year 858, on a cliff spur overlooking the thundering Rhine Falls. The first official document mentioning Schloss Laufen refers to it by the name used at the time for the Rhine Falls – “grosses Lauffen”, which means “big falls”. Originally the ancestral seat of the barons of Laufen with governorship of the surrounding municipalities, the castle had numerous owners over the course of the centuries, the earliest being the Bishop of Constance, who held the manorial estate during the approximately hundred-year era of the barons of Laufen.

The Abbey of All Saints in Schaffhausen and the Count of Kyburg were among the later owners. In the Old Zurich War (1439-1450) the Fulach family acquired the right of ownership. Zurich besieged the castle in 1449 – and the castle’s defenders saved themselves by letting themselves down on ropes into the Rhine and swimming to safety. Later the Fulach family recaptured the castle and made a diplomatic request for citizenship of Zurich. In 1544, Hans Wilhelm von Fulach sold the castle and related entitlements to the City of Zurich, despite efforts by the City of Schaffhausen to fend off the sale and retain this strategic holding. Zurich welcomed the expansion to the north that the castle and the surrounding municipalities of Uhwiesen and Dachsen represented for it, and initiated major constructional developments to reinforce the area for its chief governor.

With the French Revolution and Napoleon’s subsequent advancement into Swiss territory in 1798, the prevailing feudal system came to an abrupt end. From 1804, the castle was once again in the hands of leaseholders, and in 1845 the Bleuler family sold Schloss Laufen. Finally, in 1941, the Canton of Zurich acquired the castle from descendents of the Bleulers.

In 2009, SV Switzerland was selected from a group of six contenders to manage and operate Schloss Laufen as a tourist destination. The re-opening of the castle in March 2010 will mark the beginning of a new chapter in the more than 1100-year history of this great landmark.