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Béatrice von Wattenwyl House

The Béatrice-von-Wattenwyl-Haus (originally named Frischinghaus) is a town house located at Junkerngasse 59 in the historic district of Bern. Planned by Joseph Abeille, it was built in the years 1705 to 1706, as a southern extension of Samuel Frisching’s (II.) town residence.

In agreement with a donation effected in 1929, the house became the property of the Swiss Confederation after the death of Jakob Emanuel von Wattenwyl in 1934. Ever since, the house has borne the name of the wife of the deceased.

Today, the house is used for receptions: here, the Bundesrat and the governing parties SVP, SP, FDP and CVP meet for the so-called “Von–Wattenwyl-Talks” on a regular basis.

The main façade is facing South: its flight of stairs, the balcony, the gable displaying the patrician Frisching family’s coat of arms and the ridge turret are all visible from the Münster platform. The terraced gardens that lie beneath it give it a monumental air.

New Castle Oberdiessbach

The New Oberdiessbach Castle is a castle located in Oberdiessbach, Canton of Bern. It was built south of the Old Castle, dating from the year 1546 and has been in the possession of the von Wattenwyl family since 1647. The New Castle was built for Albrecht von Wattenwyl (1617‒1671), a colonel in French service to King Ludwig XIV., as a country residence in the style of the late French Renaissance from 1666 to 1668. It is still part of the von Wattenwyl family property today. The main tract of the building exhibits a high hipped roof, long smokestacks and loggias.

Rudolf von Tavel, in his Bernese-language novel Der Frondeur, describes the view of the castle with its “proud paladin windows, the beautiful latticework and the chimneys, which seem to grow like little towers from the mighty roof”. Alleys with a total length of one kilometre lead up to the Régence-style wrought-iron portal of the baroque garden which is situated in front of the main façade. The interior furnishings of the castle date back to the time of its construction and tapestries were added in the late 18th century.

The Oberdiessbach Castle was the first country residence in the Canton of Bern built entirely in the French style and is regarded as the most important exponent of all Bernese secular constructions built in the mid-17th century.  

Domaine de Montbenay

The Domaine de Montbenay is located entirely in the commune of Mont-sur-Rolle in the "Heart of the Coast".

The Domaine has been owned by the de Watteville family since the 16th century.

The origins of the Domaine de Montbenay go back to the early Middle Ages. At that time, the monks of the Abbey of Montbenoît, who came from France, began to plant and cultivate the first vines.

Today the Domaine de Montbenay is run by Maurice de Watteville, who ensures that Montbenay remains the wine of choice for all connoisseurs of fine wines.

Castle Burgistein

The castle was built after 1260 by the founder of the Burgistein family, Jordan I von Thun.


In 1339, it was destroyed by the Bernese, after the Battle of Laupen.

According to the Bernese chronicler Konrad Justinger, Jordan III. von Burgistein was shot inside the castle by a marksman named Ryffli.

In 1397, the Burgistein family line failed and the rebuilt castle came into the possession of Werner Münzer. In 1493, the von Wattenwyls became the owners of the castle for the next 221 years.

After the marriage of Juliana von Wattenwyl to Emanuel von Graffenried in 1714/15, the castle went over to the von Graffenried family. The buildings on site today date back to the 16th century.

Chateau Montmirail

The history of Montmirail Castle commenced under French rule in 1618. In the 17th century, Henri II. D’Orléans-Longueville was governor of Neuchâtel. One of his officers, Abraham Tribolet, was Bailiff of Thielle. In 1618, he built a country hall and a farm with a barn on a small elevation. By way of various succeeding owners Montmirail came into the hands of the von Wattenwyl family in 1722. The estate was named Montmirail. From 1739 onwards, religious refugees – in particular Huguenots and Waldensians – were sheltered by the young Friederich von Wattenwyl (Herrnhuter Fraternity).

​The clergy of Neuchâtel were unwilling to accept free congregations on their territory and the refugees were forced to abandon Montmirail at the Church of Neuchâtel’s behest in 1748.

In 1766, Montmirail became a boarding school for girls and boys. For the next 222 years, French, housekeeping, subjects of general educational value (appropriate conduct!) and religion were part of the curriculum. Female pupils came from all over Europe. In 1988, the Institut de Montmirail closed its doors indefinitely. The Don Camillo community acquired a building lease for the major part of Montmirail, in order to erect a guesthouse and a centre for the community.

Château du Pin (F)

In 1253, the Count of Burgundy and Master of Arlay, Jean I. de Chalon (1190‒1267), built this castle with its six towers, a rampart, a two-story mansion with glazing bar windows and a stately keep, 22-metre in height, with a pitch oriel and an angular look-out, on the ruins of an ancient castrum.

Situated three kilometres northeast of Lons-le-Saunier, on the grounds of the monastery Saint-Pierre de Baume-les-Messieurs, amidst pastures and vineyards dominating the valleys of the Seille, the Doubs and the Saône, it served to control the salt route. 

In 1425, the castle was sold to the Master of Courlaoux, Guillaume de Vaudrey, who gave it its current exterior appearance.

In 1674, King Louis XIV. of France ordered the castle’s destruction but only a part of the curtain wall was demolished.

From the 18th century onwards, several proprietors succeeded one another and the castle, after having been used for other purposes, was turned into a farm. In 1920, baron Carlos de Watteville bought the property which was partly in ruins and undertook major refurbishment works.

Elfenau Bern

The Elfenau is a campagne on the banks of the Aare (Elfenauweg 91) in Bern. Since 1285, the area of today's Elfenau was home to the nunnery of Brunnadern. Around 1780, the old timber-framed building was demolished and replaced by the new manor house of today. The name, reminiscent of the mythical creatures of the elves, was given to it in 1816 by the emigrated Russian Grand Duchess Anna Feodorowna (1781-1860), who had purchased the property, previously called Brunnaderngut, together with the country house built in 1735 in 1814. With the help of Rudolf Abraham von Schiferli, she had the estate rebuilt in the Empire style and laid out an English park. She received her relatives, the better Bernese society, the Russian colony and numerous foreign diplomats there.

For this purpose the famous Orangery was built, which today serves as an exhibition and concert hall.


In 1861 Anna's son Eduard sold the Elfenau to Bernhard Friedrich von Wattenwyl (1829-1831, Distelzwang).

In 1918 it passed to the city of Bern, and in 1928/29 the Stadtgärtnerei was established there.

Schlosswil   I  Castle Wyl

by Prof. Dr. Jürg Schweizer


First mention of the Barons of Wiler at a court held by Duke Konrad of Zähringen in Worb.

1st half of 13th century

Wyl Castle receives the 43 m high main tower, made of partly huge boulders with an enormous wall thickness of about 4 m, as an accent visible from afar.

1527 Niklaus von Wattenwyl buys the castle and manor of Wyl. Before that, he was provost of the canons' monastery at the cathedral; he changed to the new faith and is now married to Clara May. In 1546, the castle burns down and the tower is also damaged. During the reconstruction, Niklaus von Wattenwyl transformed the castle into a comfortable palace. In the process, he also had the arcaded courtyard with its vaults built. The tower was given its steep roof.


Petermann von Diesbach acquires castle and demesne

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