From north to south of Alsace, the number of ruins of castles is impressive. Created and constructed in the Middle Ages by the lords of the Holy Roman Empire, these castles are still dozens to have survived the centuries to highlight the hills and mountains of Alsace their mysterious and romantic silhouette.
I know particularly well the silhouette of the castle of Kintzheim. I see it every day on my way from home (in La Vancelle) to Riquewihr along the Alsace wine route. There is a perspective that I particularly like: at the entrance of Kintzheim, coming from Châtenois, the castles of Kintzheim and the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg overlap, line up and give the vineyard landscape a particular strength. Yet, of the two fortresses, the eagle’s nest is not the one we would believe …
An eagle’s nest as a stage setting …
Kintzheim was already known in the sixth century under the name of Villa Regis. The Merovingian kings had made it the center of a large estate. In 775, Charlemagne, crowned king of the Lombards and future emperor, spends Christmas in Palatium Selestatis likely located at Kintzheim. At a place called the Schlossberg, the well named “castle hill,” the fortress of Kintzheim is overlooking the village and its vineyards since the twelfth century.
It’s morning and Castle Kintzheim is in its best possible light. Its high crenellated facade and dungeon are facing the Rhine Valley and the rising sun. In the background, on its isosceles summit, stands the majestic and unmistakable silhouette of Haut-Koenigsbourg castle. Sometimes she plays hide-and–seek with the clouds. The vineyards in the foreground rhythm seasons: white frost in the early winter morning, tender green in spring, vibrant under the summer sun and adorned with gold in the fall … The stage setting is always exceptional, a great match for the show given there.
A visit to the dressing rooms of the flying stars …
In 1968 the venerable ruins of the castle resumed service by becoming a magnificent theater for the Eagle Park (Volerie des Aigles) and its resident birds. Every year from April to early November, the chateau becomes the kingdom of the birds of prey, an eagle nest in the literal sense, the setting for an amazing show. Once a year, I go back to the castle and I mingle with visitors for a rare and still very emotional show.
The stars of the show are the birds. And what amazing birds!
These movie stars gladly welcome you into their dressing room before the show. Do as I do: drive to the castle an hour before the show starts. The ideal is to be there at the opening of the castle, before the first performance. You can then enjoy a privileged head to head with the birds and talk to them softly, gazing into each other’s eyes …
Here are, among many others, some of the stars of the show … Click on the images to enlarge.
Let the show begin!
Ladies and gentlemen, what is proposed here is a ballet. An artistic aerial ballet in which the winged stars – these majestic birds of prey you have approached earlier – will embark on high-flying aerobatics, on a spectacular dance led by their partners, the falconers.
An aerial dance that rises to the clouds before ending … at your feet!
Practical info and links
Volerie des Aigles – Château de Kintzheim, 67600 Kintzheim – Alsace
The Eagle Park in Alsace gives visitors the unique opportunity to observe and admire in the sky, or close to them, the finest and largest birds of prey in the world, in an impressive show.
Open from early April to 11 November. For opening hours and entertainment, access map, visit the website of the Eagle Park (Volerie des Aigles).
Car parks are a 10 minute walk (easy) to the castle entrance.
For our guests staying in our MOUNTAIN HIKER holiday apartment in La Vancelle, reaching the Eagle Park at the castle of Kintzheim is simple: drive down to the next village Châtenois, turn right on the Alsace wine route to Kintzheim. In the center of Kintzheim turn right and drive up to the sign posted Volerie des Aigles. It will take only 20 minutes …
For our guests staying in our holiday apartments in Riquewihr, it is a short drive north along the wine route to Kintzheim. In the center of Kintzheim turn left and drive up to the sign posted Volerie des Aigles. It will take only 20 minutes ….