Castle Haut-Koenigsbourg overlooking Alsace and the plain of the Rhine river.
Castle Haut-Koenigsbourg overlooking Alsace and the plain of the Rhine river.

In the early summer this year, on my way home from Riquewihr to La Vancelle my eye was suddenly caught by an unusual brilliance on the top of the mountain. The keep of the castle Haut-Koenigsbourg was gleaming! For nearly a year, the tower was covered with an impressive scaffolding to complete the repair of the roof damaged by a storm in 2011. And then … no more scaffoldings! The majestic castle had regained its splendor: it was the new copper roof that was gleaming

We already had the opportunity to present the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle under its blanket of snow in winter. The time has come to see it in the summer sun.
And next time we will enter …

An imposing silhouette visible from everywhere

The village of Saint-Hippolyte and the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle
The village of Saint-Hippolyte and the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle

Whether you come from beyond the Rhine, by Mulhouse in South or the Ried plain south of Strasbourg, one cannot miss the distinctive silhouette of the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg. It is an integral part of all the landscapes of central Alsace around Colmar. The characteristic silhouette of Haut-Koenigsbourg castle has been rhythming the alsatian seasons for centuries.

In Alsace, the characteristic silhouette of Haut-Koenigsbourg castle has been rhythming the seasons for centuries.
In Alsace, the characteristic silhouette of Haut-Koenigsbourg castle has been rhythming the seasons for centuries.

In mid-December 2011, the storm Joachim had blown over Alsace and the Rhine valley. Bursts of extreme violence (189 km / h measured at the Markstein in the southern Vosges) had won half of the 400 sqm2 of copper plates that made up the roof of the castle’s dungeon. Nearly a year of work and € 700,000 later, the dungeon has regained its pride and his imperial eagle.

« To the rising sun flies the imperial eagle … »

The dungeon of the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle has regained its pride ... and its imperial eagle.
The dungeon of the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle has regained its pride … and its imperial eagle.

To complete the new roofing of the tower, imperial eagle usually installed at the top was taken down and exposed some time to public view at the entrance of the fortress.
In 1995, a parchment signed by Kaiser Wilhelm II was found inside the eagle to the attention of future generations.
Click the link to see a copy with a translation into French.

Now, the imperial eagle has regained the high tower of 62 meters from where it is overlooking the valley of the Rhine.

Centuries passed along the massive walls of the fortress

The impressive walls of southern side of the fortress.
The impressive walls of southern side of the fortress.

There are traces of the castle in the archives back to 1147. So it’s almost 9 centuries the fortress stands on its tight promontory, searching day and night, witnessing the joys and tragedies of the plain of Alsace. The Haut-Koenigsbourg castle (HohKoenigsburg originally) has probably always been an ideal observatory and a refuge in case of need. Although it was enlarged and fortified during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the majestic fortress became however the target of artillery, was looted and burnt down during the terrible Thirty Years War, which saw the destruction of almost the whole of Alsace (1633). Abandoned for more than two centuries, it was finally declared national heritage in 1862 before being bought by the city of Sélestat.

1900-1908: the German Emperor restores the castle

1900-1908: the German Emperor rebuilt the castle ...
1900-1908: the German Emperor rebuilt the castle.

In 1871, Alsace is integrated into the German Empire. During the following years, the city of Sélestat, the new owner of what was still an imposing ruin, realizes the enormity of the task and cost of maintenance. In 1899, the city offers the castle to Kaiser Wilhelm II, who sees in the Haut-Koenigsbourg the opportunity of a visible and symbolic return of Germany in Alsace, a land of German culture since the end of the Roman Empire. So he decided to restore the castle. It will follow a gigantic project, from 1900 to 1908. Inside the castle an interesting exhibition shows all about it.

The castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg as we see it today is partly the work of Kaiser Wilhelm II and his architect Bodo Ebhardt.

Young tourists from Thailand explore the vicinity of the castle
Young tourists from Thailand explore the vicinity of the castle. The Haut-Koenigsbourg is definitely a fascinating place …

Practical hints and links about the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle in Alsace

The castle is open all year round, every day except on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
Ticket office opening hours 2014
January, February, November and December
9:30 – 12:00 then 13:00 – 16:30
March and October
9:30 – 17:00
April, May and September
9:15 – 17:15
June, July and August
9:15 – 18:00
The castle closes 45 minutes after the ticket office in the evening.
Pets not allowed, with the exception of guide dogs and assistance dogs.
To get the most out of your visit, get in touch with the castle and make sure you book a guided tour.
Link to the official website of the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle.
For our guests staying in our MOUNTAIN HIKER holiday apartment in La Vancelle, you will see the castle from your apartment by simply looking out of the window. Reaching the castle of Haut Koenigsbourg is simple: drive down to the next village Liepvre and up to the castle on the opposite side. It will take only 15 minutes …
For our guests staying in our holiday apartments in Riquewihr, it is a short drive along the wine route until Bergheim, up to Tannenkirch and then the castle is very near. It takes only 20 minutes by car.
The castle seen from the northern side, as you can see it (with a zoom) from our Mountain Hiker vacation apartment in La Vancelle.
The castle seen from the northern side, as you can see it (with a zoom) from our Mountain Hiker vacation apartment in La Vancelle.

1 Comment »