Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg

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F - 67600 Orschwiller, Orschwiller, France
www.haut-koenigsbourg.fr - +33 3 69 33 25 00

Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg Orschwiller Reviews

Nivi Nivi
1 reviews
Impressively restored castle Jul 04, 2011
I went to see the castle with a few friends in June 2011. It takes quite some time to reach the castle since it is located at about 700 meters altitude. There are a lot of free parking spaces near the castle. The entrance fee was 8 euros for adults and 6 euros for students.

The castle dates back to the 12th century. It was destroyed twice. Once in 1462 by a coalition of cities and the second time after the thirty years war by Swedish troops. It was only in 1900 that the restauration of the castle began. Emperor Wilhelm II hired the medieval castle specialist Bodo Ebhardt to manage the restauration process. Wilhem II´s goal was to create a castle that would laud the qualities of the medieval period in Alsace and more generally the qualities of Germann civilization. He hoped it would reinforce the bonds between Germans and Alsatians who had been only recently incorporated into the German Reich. The restauration process was really revolutionary at that time. With the help of modern technologies like electricity and steam engines the workers almost rebuild the castle form ground up in only 8 years! Although Bodo Ebhardt took a lot of care to rebuild the castle as faithfully as possible, he had to partly improvise because of the lack of information about the castle. It turned out later that the tower had been build 14 meters too tall.

The castle looks very impressive.It is 270 meters wide and has really tall ramparts. Almost the whole castle can be visited, from the armory to the dinning rooms, to the kitchen or even to the Blacksmith´s workshop. At the top of the castle many artillery pieces that were used to protect the castle can be seen. The view up there is really amazing! A good part of the castle is also displaying information about the restauration work of the castle. Of course the mandatory gift shop is also present at the entrance/exit but I really appreciated the fact that it has a separated entrance so that you don´t necessarily have to go through.

Personally I dind´t regret my visit at all. Taking into account how much there is to see inside the castle the entrance fee is really a bargain. The only downside was that at the time of my visit (june 2011) some parts of the castle were being restored so the cranes and the scaffoldings spoiled the view a little bit.
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katesy says:
Would anyone know the particulars about the Swedes who sacked the castle? The name of their commander for instance or where the Swedes waited while they lay siege?!
Posted on: Mar 27, 2012
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Sweetski Sweetski
52 reviews
Castle with a view May 27, 2008
While driving along the wine route (please see my other review) we came across a beautiful castle known as Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg. This is an almost 900 year old medieval mountain fortress which offers an insight in medieval life and boasts a spectacular panoramic view. 2008 is an especially good year to visit this fortress, for it is celebrating its 100-year anniversary of restoration, but later more on that. First let me elaborate on its history.

Internet research taught me Haut-Koenigsbourg is actually the last of several castles to be built on the Staufenberg (el. 800m/2,484 ft.) overlooking the Rhine Plain. Erected in the 12th century atop the ruins of walls originally built by the Romans, the castle occupied a strategic position. Its purpose was to protect the wine and wheat routes to the north, and the silver and salt routes running from west to east. The fort had a long and complicated history between the time of its construction as a military edifice in the 12th century and its destruction in 1633. It served at various times (among other things) as a fortress-residence of vassals of the Dukes of Lorraine and the Bishops of Strasbourg, and as a haven for the robber barons who preyed on the traffic through the nearby pass.

In 1633, the castle's garrison was under the command of Captain Philippe de Lichtenau, an Imperial officer when Swedes attacking through Germany during the Thirty Years' War, besieged it. Although the captain managed to hold out for more than three months within the battered remnants of the castle, finally, out of food and ammunition, with the troops of the garrison mutinously evaporating into the night, de Lichtenau surrendered and the structure was sacked and burned.

Haut-Koenigsbourg lay in ruins until the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II, who in 1899 financed the restoration of the castle as part of the re-Germanization of Alsace. Inside the building, the sheer refinement of the rooms is extremely impressive, with their wall paintings, Renaissance furniture and enormous cast iron stoves. In the basement, you'll find a collection of mediaeval weapons including crossbows, swords and armour of all kinds.

Today, it is still beautifully restored and well worth a visit, especially on a clear day, when from the top of its towers, one can see across the Vosges, the Rhine, all the way to the Black Forest in Germany and (on a really clear day) even the Alps. However, when we were there, we had a bit of a grey and misty day, so just one photo of the panorama, which will be a lot better when you visit on a clear day.

As I said, 2008 is a good year to visit the fort, but beware: even in a 'normal' year, this castle attracts 600,000 visitors per year.

There is a little café, a library and a museum shop. Entrance fee will set you back only € 7.50 (US$ 11.25), kids under the age of 18 enter free!

Last tip: In July and August, English guided tours are held daily at 14:00.
Looking formidable as you walk up …
The entrance with the coat-of-arms…
Only people half my size would fit…
sneak preview of the panorama
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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Sunflower300 says:
Thank you for the history lesson Rudolph. It is astounding the history of Europe, when you consider Australia was first settled was in 1788, this castle had already been through so much. No wonder Australia is not on your wish list, we have nothing like that here, but you shouldn't let that stop you, this is one magnificent country. :)
Posted on: May 31, 2008
Sweetski says:
Thank you Ieva. It is not a coincidence that Lithuania is on my wish-list :)
Posted on: May 28, 2008
ewooce says:
We have some castles alike in Lithuania! Looks similar… ;) Great spirit of middle ages… :)
Posted on: May 28, 2008

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photo by: jhwelsch