La Sarraz Castle Switzerland

La Sarraz Castel

The town of La Sarraz is an attractive and interesting place perched on a little ridge at about 500m between Cossonay and Orbe. The ridge forms the watershed between the valley of the Venoge that comes out of L’Isle, flows northeast to La Sarraz, and turns south past Lausanne-West to Lac Léman (Lake Geneva), and the floodplain of the Nozon and the canals that join the river Orbe and reach Lac de Neuchâtel at Yverdon to the north.


The castle itself, sitting on a high place in the town alongside the trade route between the two river valleys, has a long, well-documented history (mostly of tax-collecting, presumably) since the 13th century, continuously in the same family (rather loosely defined, passed from the Grandsons 1049-1269, Montferrands 1269-1541, and Gingins 1541-1798) until it was turned over to the state and a management foundation, the Société des Amis du Château de La Sarraz, in 1920. The belle matron of the family hosted international art festivals and maintained an art colony of some sort in the 1920s or so (one room is devoted to her art posters).

The name « Sarra » comes from patois-Latin for « fortified ».

Dunnottar Castle By Stonehaven

William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II, all graced the Castle with their presence. Most famously though, it was at Dunnottar Castle that a small garrison held out against the might of Cromwell’s army for eight months and saved the Scottish Crown Jewels, the ‘Honours of Scotland’, from destruction. Crown, sceptre and sword now take pride of place in Edinburgh Castle.

A darker chapter in the history of Dunnottar is that of the ‘Whig’s Vault’. The gruesome story of the imprisonment in 1685 of a group of Covenanters who refused to acknowledge the King’s supremacy in spiritual matters.

The Castle was the home of the Earls Marischal once one of the most powerful families in the land. The last Earl was convicted of treason for his part in the Jacobite rising of 1715, and as a result his estates, including Dunnottar, were seized by the government.

The buildings were thereafter much neglected until 1925 when the 1st Viscountess Cowdray embarked on a systematic repair of the Castle. The Castle was officially made open to visitors thereafter.

Castle of La Sarraz

Castle of La Sarraz Vaud Switzerland

Castle of La Sarraz

The castle of La Sarraz was built in 1049 on a rocky outcrop, from which it has overlooked for the past nine centuries the Mauremont gorge, which was a key route in the Middle Ages between France and Italy. The castle’s current appearance is the result of several transformations and repairs over the centuries.

The castle is inherently linked to the history and theory of modern architecture in Europe. The founding meeting of the International Congress of Modern Architecture (CIAM) was held at the castle in 1928. This meeting was the keystone for spreading ideas about modern architecture and town planning. The castle of La Sarraz has gone down in history as a European centre for fruitful discussions among independent avant-garde architects.

The fortress which was built in the Middle Ages to watch over and blockade an important passageway, became a centre for open-mindedness and internationalism at the beginning of the 20th century, thanks to the personal commitment of Mrs. Hélène Mandrot who had a passion for modern art and who was the last person to inherit the castle.

The programme of artistic events that continue to be organised by the castle’s current owner, the Société des Amis du Château de La Sarraz, are a testament to its continuing commitment to art and culture in general.