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An ancient castle from another time

Gutenberg Castle (Burg Gutenberg) is a preserved castle in the town of Balzers (southern-most town of Liechtenstein). Gutenberg is one of the five castles of the principality and one of two that have survived preserved until the present day.

Unlike Vaduz Castle in Vaduz, Gutenberg Castle does not serve as a residence of the princely family of Liechtenstein and is open to the general public as a museum. The castle lies on a hill near the center of Balzers and is accessible via a street and road known as “Burgweg“.

Gutenberg Castle initially was being constructed as a medieval church and cemetery on a hilltop. In the early 12th century, the cemetery was canceled and the fortification of the former church structure had slowly begun with the addition of a ring wall, forming a simple, roughly circular keep.

During the 12th century, several additions followed, in particular, the creation of the main tower as a vertical extension of the existing keep.

The keep was in owned by a Swiss noble family called Frauenberg (from the Swiss canton of Graubünden) until 1314, when the last head of that family died. From then on, it became the property of the House of Habsburg.

It was then used primarily for guarding the borderlands between the local Habsburg-owned territories and the ones belonging to the independent Swiss cantons. 

Gutenberg Castle possessed a drawbridge until 1537, when the device was damaged by storm and had to be dismantled, never gaining a replacement.

During the 17th and 18th century, the castle lost most of its military purpose and was damaged by several fires. It was still being used as a residence around 1750. The castle was purchased and slightly repaired by the town in 1824, then sold in 1854 to princess Franziska von Liechtenstein. 

The castle received a substantial restoration between 1905 and 1912, under the supervision of Vaduz-born architect Egon Rheinberger, its new owner. 

After Rheinberger’s death in 1936, the castle was rented by the municipality for various events and guests, until it was offered for sale in 1951. In 1979, the castle was purchased by the Principality of Liechtenstein for state and museum purposes.

However, the last of the former private owners held her inherited rights to the habitation of the castle until her death in 2001.

Nowadays, the bailey (the point where you enter the castle)  is open to visitors free of charge all year round. The castle’s chapel and rose garden, reconstructed in 2010, are accessible free of charge every Sunday between 10:00 and 19:00 during the summer tourist season (1 May – 31 October).

Guided tours of Gutenberg Castle and its renting for weddings and cultural events are available only during the summer tourist season and need to be arranged in advance by appointment.

As you can see, the castle endured and survived for about 900 years and today still has an essential role to play in Liechtenstein.

The text was written in December 2019.

Short bio of the volunteer:

Claudio, a volunteer from  Liechtenstein.

Erasmus+

Erasmus+ is a program of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth, and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the program acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3 (KA3) which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.

We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.