Castle of powerful counts

The castle, perched on a steep hill above the river Töss, was first recorded in 1079. The original name «Chuigeburg» (= cow castle) indicates a refuge castle. Through his marriage with Adelheid von Winterthur, Hartmann von Dillingen came into possession of this castle and its assets. He had them built up and designated himself Count of Kyburg to mark his new position. The Kyburg dynasty became the most important noble family alongside with the Habsburgs and the Savoys in the Swiss Plateau. After the death of the last Kyburger in 1264 Rudolf von Habsburg took over the inheritance. Since his election as King of Germany the imperial regalia are supposed to have been kept in Kyburg’s chapel.

Seals of the Counts of Kyburg

A representative castle for Zürich bailiffs

As the Habsburgs shifted their interest to the east (Carinthia, Lower Austria) the city-state of Zürich could purchase Kyburg county and castle, and administered it as a bailiwick. Until 1798 noble citizens of Zürich served as Kyburg bailiffs, for six years at a time. They presided the county’s court and collected the taxes. With the reorganization in 1831 Kyburg lost its administrative function and it was auctioned off. The Polish count Alexander Sobansky spent his last years here.

The bailiff’s castle by Merian 1642

Switzerland’s first castle museum

In 1865 the independent gentleman Matthäus Pfau acquired Kyburg Castle and opened it to the public as a castle and art museum – the first castle museum in Switzerland. Eduard Bodmer continued this activity until 1914. In 1917 the Canton of Zurich bought Kyburg Castle and created an exhibition that remained until 1999.

Since that year the Museum Schloss Kyburg Society is commissioned with running the museum. The permanent exhibition was completely renewed with a focus on everyday life in the castle and cultural history.

Since 2017/19, the actual permanent exhibition concentrates on the topics castle and reign. In the counts’ hall it focuses on the unique historical monument, whereas in the knights’ hall building on the Kyburg rulers and their exercise of power.

Picture salon in Eduard Bodmer’s castle museum, around 1890