Steinsberg Castle in Ardez
The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) passed over the Swiss territory, with a few exceptions, including the destruction of Allschwil by Swedish troops in 1632 and the systematic destruction of villages in Lower Engadine (Unterengadin) by Habsburg troops during the Bündner Wirren (1618-1639). For centuries this region was a battlefield between the Counts of Tyrol and the Habsburgs on the one hand and the local rulers and the Bünder alliances from 1367 on the other. The villages of Ardez and Ftan (Protestant since the Reformation) also underwent this fate in 1499 and 1622. The tower of Steinsberg Castle is the memory of the fortification which was built in the twelfth century by the Swabian Lords of Frickingen (Überlingen, Lake Constance/Bodensee). With the extinction of the Swabian dynasty in 1268, Ardez and Ftan became involved in the ambitions of Habsburg (the legal successors of the Counts of Tyrol), the Bishop of Chur and local rulers, especially the monasteries Marienberg and Müstair. Ardez was rebuilt after 1622 and never destroyed again.
Today, the village is an open-air monument with the castle’s tower as an eye-catcher. This tower is in turn 1 600 meters surpassed by the mighty Bündner mountains. Ardez lies at an altitude of 1400 meters. The Catholic Church is also impressive and was built in 1871, more than three centuries after the Reformation. The Swiss Federal Constitution of 1848 recognised freedom of religion. Ardez reluctantly gave in to pressure by the government in Bern. It symbolises the fact that the Swiss Federation and the Constitution and not the cantons or municipalities have the last say in these matters. The mountains have witnessed all these human activities, including the first settlements in the Bronze Age. (Source and further information: www.ardez.ch).