Waldegg Castle belongs to the canton of Solothurn. It is partly inhabited by previous owners. Now there is criticism.
It sits enthroned on a small hill outside the city of Solothurn: Waldegg Castle. The magnificent building is surrounded by a large green area with an avenue. The castle has belonged to the canton of Solothurn since 1963. Descendants of the noble owners still live in the east wing of the castle to this day.
The residents pay rent to the canton of Solothurn for their stately residence. Last year this was 3,923 francs. However, not, as one might initially think, per month, but per year. The tenants pay 327 francs to the canton per month. They have to cover the costs for heating and water themselves, but the tenants do not have to pay anything for maintenance.
The Solothurn SVP believes this is an affront to the taxpayer. Especially in times of rising rents, the descendants of the castle owners would also have to pay market rent, demands the SVP in a proposal in the cantonal parliament.
Only 600,000 francs purchase price
The special tenancy agreement dates back to the 1960s. At that time, the owner family sold the property to the canton of Solothurn. The canton only paid 600,000 francs for the 200,000 square meter complex with a castle, outbuildings, two chapels, an avenue, agricultural land and a farm. To achieve this, he made a number of commitments, as is also mentioned in the TV report from back then.
One of the canton’s obligations is to set up a foundation that has owned the facility ever since. The canton continues to maintain the buildings at its own expense. A museum was set up in the castle. And: The descendants of the owners are granted the right to rent the apartment on the first floor of the east wing.
The 1963 contract also stipulated the rent for the apartment: 1,000 francs per year. The rent was indexed to the level of 1963, so that it has since risen to 3,923 francs per year due to inflation.
An interesting detail from the contract is that only descendants of the castle owners are allowed to rent the apartment. Subletting is prohibited. The residents of the apartment must also have the surname Von Sury, i.e. that of the last castle owners.
The 1963 treaty continues to apply
These contract details can be viewed at that time Donation and purchase agreement that the Canton of Solothurn entered into with the owners. In its response to the SVP’s proposal, the Solothurn government refers to this contract and writes that it is still valid today.
“The treaty from 1963 is still binding due to the principle of contractual loyalty ‘Pacta sunt servanda’,” writes the government. In addition, she doesn’t believe in the content of the People’s Party’s demands.
Because the rent was already not in line with the market at that time. However, the canton did not pay the market price for the property and the buildings in the 1960s. The castle is now – for the most part – open to the public and can be rented for events.
The government therefore rejects the proposal. It is now the turn of the cantonal parliament, which has to deal with the low rent for the descendants of the castle owners.
The history of the castle
Waldegg Castle was built between 1682 and 1690. It is located in the municipality of Feldbrunnen-St. Niklaus at the gates of the city of Solothurn. It was built as the summer residence of the mayor Johann Viktor von Besenval, an influential family in Solothurn.
In 1865, the patrician Von Sury family took over the castle from Bussy, rebuilt it and later used it as a residence all year round. In 1963 the castle went to the canton of Solothurn.
Source: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland
SRF1 Regional Journal Aargau Solothurn, October 30, 2023, 5:30 p.m.; braa;ernb;ledn/velm