Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   www.SilverHawkAuthor.com   
 
Castles in France near Lahr and Baden-Soellingen, Germany

French Castles (Châteaus) in the Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin area, across the Rhine near Lahr and Baden-Soellingen, Germany

Data Current to 20 Sep 2020.

Most Canadians who lived in or near Baden-Soellingen and Lahr until 1993, will be familiar with the numerous

medieval castles within a short drive of the two bases.  The aim of this page is to tell you a bit about them.

Canadian Forces Base Baden–Soellingen or CFB Baden–Soellingen, formerly known as RCAF Station Baden–

Soellingen (Baden), was located near the farming community of Söllingen, part of the municipality of Rheinmünster

in the West German state of Baden-Württemberg.  It is now a commercial area called Baden Airpark, which also

includes the regional airport, Flughafen Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden.

Canadian Forces Base Lahr was operated primarily as a French air force base, and later as a Canadian army base,

beginning in the late 1960s.  Lahr is located on the western edge of the Black Forest where the Schutter Valley

merges with the Upper Rhine River Plains from the east, in western Baden-Württemberg, Germany.  It is

approximately 50 km north of Freiburg im Breisgau, 40 km south east of Strasbourg, France, and 95 km south

west of Karlsruhe.  The military base was closed in 1994 and converted to civilian use.  It is now known as Flughafen.

Canadian Forces Europe (CFE) consisted of two formations in what was known as West Germany before the

Berlin Wall fell in November 1990.  These formations included Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Lahr with 4 Canadian

Mechanized Brigade Group (4 CMBG) (1957-1993), and No. 1 Canadian Air Division (1 CAD), RCAF, at CFB

Base Baden-Soellingen and CFB Base Lahr, which later became No. 1 Canadian Air Group (1 CAG).  Both

formations were closed in 1993 with the end of the Cold War, and the last came home in 1994.

My father served with the RCAF at 3 (F) Wing, Zweibrucken, Germany, (1959-1963), and he took our family castle

hunting often throughout our time there.  This generated a huge interest for me in exploring and examining these

historic time capsules.  I joined the Army and had the extraordinary privilege of serving with HQ CFE in Lahr from

1981 to 1983, and with 4 CMBG based at CFB Lahr, from 1989 to 1992.  I have explored, photographed, painted

pictures and documented castles from one end of Europe to the other, and you will find other pages describing

some of them on this website, but this page is specifically dedicated to castles within an hour or two's drive from

Baden-Soellingen and Lahr across the Rhine River in France.  I hope you find them interesting.

Harold sends

Medieval Castles and Châteaux in the Bas Rhin (Lower Rhine), and Haut Rhin (Upper Rhine) Alsace region

oFrance, within an hour or two West of Lahr and the Rhine River (North to South)

Bas-Rhin is a department in Alsace which is a part of the Grand Est super-region of France.  The name means

"Lower Rhine", however, geographically speaking it belongs to the Upper Rhine region.  It is, with the Haut-Rhin 

(Upper Rhine), one of the two departments of the traditional Alsace region.  Bas-Rhin is one of the original 83

departments created on 4 March 1790, during the French Revolution.  On 1 January 2021, the departments of

Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhine will merge into the European Collectivity of Alsace.  

The Rhine has always been of great historical and economic importance to the area, and it forms the eastern border

of Bas-Rhin. The area is also home to some of the foothills of the Vosges Mountains.  To the north of Bas-Rhin lies

the Palatinate forest (Pfälzerwald) in the German State of Rhineland-Palatinate, and the German State of Baden-Württemberg lies to the east.  To the south lies the department of Haut-Rhine, the town of Colmar and southern 

Alsace, and to the west the department of Moselle.  On its south-western corner, Bas-Rhin also joins the department

of Vosges.

(Rob124 Photo)
Château de Fleckenstein i
s a ruined castle in the commune of Lembach, in the Bas-Rhin département of France.

This fortress,
built in the shape of 52 m long boat, stands on a dramatic rock face and has a long history. The castle was built on

a sandstone
summit in the Middle Ages. An ingenious system for collecting rainwater fed a cistern and a hoist allowed water

and other loads to be moved to the upper floors.

A castle is known to have existed on the site in 1165.  It is named after the Fleckenstein family, owners until 1720

when it passed to the Vitzthum d'Egersberg family.  The family had had a lordship that consisted of four separate

small territories in the Bas-Rhin département.  In 1807, it passed to J.-L. Apffel and in 1812 to General Harty,

baron of Pierrebourg (French word for Fleckenstein: stone town).  In 1919, it became the property of the French state.

The rock and the castle have been modified and modernised many times.  Of the Romanesque castle, remains

include steps cut into the length of the rock, troglodyte rooms and a cistern.  The lower part of the well tower dates

from the 13th or 14th century, the rest from the 15th and 16th.  The inner door in the lower courtyard carries the

faded inscription 1407 (or 1423); the outer door 1429 (or 1428).  The stairwell tower is decorated with the arms of

Friedrich von Fleckenstein (died 1559) and those of his second wife, Catherine von Cronberg (married 1537).

The 16th-century castle, modernised between 1541 and 1570, was shared between the two branches of the

Fleckenstein family. Documents from the 16th century describe the castle and a watercolour copy of a 1562 tapestry illustrated its appearance in this period.  Towards the end of the 17th-century Fleckenstein was

captured twice by French troops.  In 1674 the capture was achieved by forces under Marshall Vauban, who

encountered no resistance from the defenders.  The castle was nevertheless completely destroyed in 1689 by 

General Melac.  Major restoration work was carried out after 1870, around 1908 and again since 1958.

The castle is located between Lembach to the south and Hirschtal to the north, only about 200 meters to the

southeast of the present French frontier with Germany, at a height of about 370 meters above mean sea level. 

The nearest more substantial town is Wissembourg, approximately 20 km / 12 miles to the east.  The castle, is

accessible by road or via (well established) hiking trails.  (Ministère français de la Culture. Château fort de Fleckenstein)

(Merian)

Fleckenstein castle, Merian illustration, 1887) 

(Peter Schmenger Photo)

Fleckenstein castle, view from Hohenburg castle.

 (Franz Roth Photo)

Château Wasenbourg (Wasenburg), castle ruin stands on the northwest hillside of Reisberg, 400 metres high in

the North Vosges It has been recognized as a monument historique since 1898.   It appears to have been built

c1273, by Conrad de Lichtenberg, Bishop of Strasbourg.  The castle is located in the commune of Niedeerbronn-

les-Bains.  The castle is mentioned for the first time in a charter dated 1335 during a division of the Licthenberg

family possessions.  It was enfeoffed by them to Guillaume de Born (or of Burne) in 1378.  In 1398, during a Fehde, Wasenbourg was besieged by the troops of the bishop and the city of Strasbourg. Afterward, it was used as residence

by the vassals of the Lichtenberg, notably Hofwart de Kirchheim, 1407,  and Simon de Zeiskam in 1453.

With the extinction of the Lichtenberg lineage in 1480, the Wassenbourg was passed by inheritance to Simon

Wecker IV of Deux-Ponts-Bitche.  The castle was severely damaged during the Peasants' War in 1525.  It was

rebuilt by Jacques de Deux-Ponts-Bitche in 1535.  In 1570, a quarrel of inheritance set the family of Linange

against the family of Hanau-Lichtenberg, both of them successors of Deux-Ponts-Bitche.  Jean-Jacob Niedheimer,

baillif of Hanau, took advantage of the dispute to occupy the castle and assumed the title of nobility "of Wasenbourg". 

The castle seems to have been saved during the War of Thirty Years (1618-1648) but was be finally dismantled by

the troops of Louis XIV in 1677.

The site has been extensively restored. The castle does not have a keep. An 18 metre high, 14 metre long and 3

metre thick shield wall, overhanging protected the lodging house from attack.  A plaque overhanging the entrance

of the castle commemorates the visit of Goethe in 1771.

East of the lower yard stands a rock known as "le Wachtfelsen", testimony of Roman worship dedicated to the

god Mercury.  Inside the enclosure wall, there is an oriel window overhanging the East wall of the castle.  Access

to the lodging house through a door in a broken bow, overhung by a sculptured head integrated into a Gothic frieze. 

(Ministère français de la Culture.  Château fort, Château Wasenbourg)

 (Wssw Photo)

Château Wasenbourg.

 (Djangel Photo)

Château Wasenbourg.

 (Gwen Berson Photo)

Château de Frœnsbourg is a castle ruin north west of the town of Lembach, within the Bas-Rhin département.  

It is partially a troglodyte structure (built into the side of a cliff or mountain, using caves as connecting halls),

with two main buildings making up the rest of the structure.  The castle was indirectly mentioned in 1235 (according

to A. Thon).  It is attested in 1269, in an account of the brothers "of Frundsperg".  Until the 1340s, the castle would

have belonged exclusively to the Froensbourgs, who had the same armorial bearings as the Fleckensteins (of which

family they were probably a branch).

A little before the middle of the 14th century, the castle was divided between the lords of Froensbourg (who kept

half of it), Loewenstein and Sickingen.  It was besieged and ruined, in 1349, because of the banditry of Reinhard

von Sickingen, but was certainly restored after 1358, the date when the castle was offered as a stronghold to the

Palatine Count.  The dwelling tower on the southern rock, known as the small castle, was owned towards the end

of the 15th century by Fleckenstein, who had it restored.  Its main door is dated 1481.

The big castle occupied the whole of the northern rock.  At the higher level, on the side of a likely attack, is a keep 

with living quarters towards the south.  On the middle and lower floors were located the common buildings and

dependences made of wood - traces of anchorings remain in the rocks - and troglodytic rooms.  The lower

courtyard stood in the west and there was a ditch to the north.  There are several staircases cut into the rock.  The

castle was destroyed by the French in 1677 but was probably already abandoned at that time.

The castle stands on an isolated sandstone spur oriented north-south, separated from the mountain by a large ditch. 

The spur, split in two, comprises a longer and higher northern rock, connected at mid-level by a modern footbridge

to the southern rock.  At the base of the northern rock, on the north-western side, a low room is cut into the rock and

joined by a narrow bay (of unspecified date) to a tiny cylindrical room leading to the middle level.  This could

correspond to an old well-cistern.  Above the door is evidence of the anchoring for a drawbridge.  Further south, a

western projection with access door is located, a winding staircase cut in the sandstone, traces of buildings with a

stable, a well in a corner and vestiges of staircases in the rock.  At the middle level, to the east (reached via a

modern staircase and a largely original door) are two rooms cut in the rock; to the north is the upper part of the

old well-cistern.  Towards the south, a square cistern close to the modern footbridge gives access to the small

southern rock.  This is entirely occupied by the remains of the dwelling tower whose Gothic arch doorway remains,

dated 1481.  The remains of the northern keep and the lodgings towards the south, located on the higher terrace of

the northern rock, are inaccessible.  It has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture 

since 1898.  (Ministère français de la Culture. (in French) Château fort de Froensbourg)

 (Ralf Schulze Photo)

Château du Frœnsbourg.

 (Gwen Berson Photo)

Château du Frœnsbourg.

 (Gwen Berson Photo)

Château du Frœnsbourg.

 (Michael Münch Photo)

Château de Lutzelhardt is a 13th-century castle ruin in the commune of Obersteinbach of Obersteinbach in the 

Bas-Rhin départment.  It is remarkable in that parts of it are actually built into the rock (semi-troglodytic).  

The first mention of the castle is in 1250, which corresponds with the approximate date of its construction by the

Lutzelhardt family, Vögte of Wasselonne, for whom the castle is named.  The Lutzelhardts sold the castle in 1363

to the Fleckensteins.  It was burnt in 1397 by the troops of the city of Strasbourg, taken by assault in 1462 by the

troops of Wissembourg and was repaired by 1469.  The exact date of its abandonment is not known, but it was

recorded as a ruin in 1538.  

The castle is built on an outcrop of sandstone, twenty metres (~65 ft) high and sixty metres (~195 ft) long.  At

its feet, on the south-east, is the lower courtyard.  On the highest part of the rock are the remains of a small square 

keep, with dressed stones, and the remains of a residence along the eastern edge of the rock.  The north wall still

stands to the height of the ground floor.  The other parts of the castle are slightly lower.  They consist of a cistern,

a well or second cistern, and traces of various buildings.  In the lower courtyard there are remnants of sections of

the curtain wall with the doorway on one side and mounds on the other, two massive cellars cut into rock (one

having been vaulted) and a staircase in the rock giving access to the castle proper.  On the opposite side of the castle

to the lower courtyard, a ditch has been dug the length of the rock. Further west are remains of walls.  The Château

de Lutzelhardt has been listed as a monument historique since 1898.

 (MacElch Photo)

Château de Lutzelhardt.

 (MacElch Photo)

Château de Lutzelhardt.

 (MacElch Photo)

Château de Lutzelhardt.

 (Gerd Eichmann Photo)

Château du Petit-Arnsberg is a 14th century castle ruin in the commune of Obersteinbach in the Bas-Rhin

département of Alsace.  The castle was a fief of the Abbey of Wissembourg in the Northern Vosges, owned by

the Wasigenstein family.  Its first mention in records dates from 1316.  In 1335, a peace was concluded there

between Frédéric de Wasigenstein, a famous knight-brigand, and the city of Strasbourg.  It was not returned to

the Wasigenstein family but occupied by the Ochsensteins from 1360.   In 1400, the castle passed into the hands

of Frédéric de Than, who mortgaged half of it to Louis de Lichtenberg in 1420.  On the death of the last of the

Ochsensteins, the counts of Deux-Ponts-Bitche who were its heirs, restored the castle in 1494.  Its last owners

were the Hanau-Lichtenberg between 1604 and 1606.  The castle was destroyed during the Thirty Years' War in

1635. 

The castle is partially carved out of the living stone (semi-troglodytic).  The corps de logis follows the rocky

contours and is protected by a strong surrounding wall.  A small door carved into the rock with its double frame

is dated 1494.  On the east side of the castle, long cavities in the ground suggest that they housed wooden

structures which made it possible to gain space in expanding the living area.  The castle has been listed as a

monument historique since 1898(Ministère français de la Culture.  Château fort dit Petit-Arnsbourg ou Petit-Arnsberg)

Drawing of Château du Petit-Arnsberg.

 (Laurent Jerry Photo)

Château du Petit-Arnsberg.

 (Travus Photo)

Château du Wasigenstein is a 14th century castle ruin in the commune of Niedersteinbach in the Bas-Rhin

département of Alsace.  The site was first known as the centre of the German legend of Waltharius in the 10th

century (c920).  The castle is state property and has been listed as a monument historique since 1898.  Two castles

were built here in the 13th century, Grand-Wasigenstein and Petit-Wasigenstein, each dependent on the other for

defence.   There are very few remains. 

At Grand-Wasigenstein, the former cistern, the keep and a few well-built rooms survive.  Petit-Wasigenstein has a

habitable keep with a thick walls, an enormous windlass capable of lifting considerable loads.  There are access

stairways cut into the rock.  A monumental architectural work provided a steep ascent to the summits.  There is a 

rift fault, separating the two castles ("the fault of Walther").  Erosion has reduced the south face of the rocky outcrop. 

The castles provide an excellent viewpoint over the Langenbach valley and towards Obersteinbach.

  (Adrian Farwell Photo)

Château du Wasigenstein.

 (Gwen Berson Photo)

Château du Wasigenstein.

 (R. Neuhard Photo)

Château du Wasigenstein.

 (Pastix Photo)

Château du Vieux Windstein is a castle ruin in the commune of Windstein, in the Bas-Rhin départment, Alsace.  

The first documented mention of the Château de Windstein is dated 1205.  It was built at the end of the 12th century

by the Hohenstaufens to protect their imperial palace at Hagenau.  The castle was a fief of the Empire, in the

possession of the Windstein family, and was built in two periods, though dates are not known.  Later, the castle

was split in two with the lords of Sickingen and Schmalenstein each owning a part . Some of the buildings were 

built in the 13th century but it later became a haunt of brigands and was razed in 1332, following a conflict with

the city of Strasbourg.  Despite a ban on rebuilding, it was rebuilt again during the course of the 14th century.  It

was burned in 1515, tehn it passed into the possession of the Durkheims.  The castle was finally ruined at the end

of the 17th century, destroyed by the artillery of General Joseph de Monclar in 1676 during the wars against Louis VIV.

The castle stands on top of a narrow sandstone outcrop and comprises two groups of buildings, separated by a

ditch formed from an old fault enlarged when the castle was divided.  There are a number of troglodytic (built into

the rock) elements.  

Access to the lower courtyard of the southern castle is by a stone staircase cut into the rock.  A house has been

built on the site of the common buildings.  A platform has been laid out, halfway up the rock, preceded by cave

rooms and a cistern.  There is a 41 metres (~135 ft) deep well cut into the rock.  The foundations of a Romanesque 

chapel are visible.  On the summit, traces exist of a keep.  On the northern summit are remains of parts of a wall

(late 13th, early 14th century), the only remnants of a keep built against the south castle.  This part also has

vestiges of a large habitable tower, as well as parts of a manor house (13th/14th centuries).  The Château du Vieux

Windstein has been listed as a monument historique since 1984.

  (Pastix Photo)

Château du Vieux Windstein.

 (Gwen Benson Photo)

Château du Vieux Windstein.

  (Peter Schmenger Photo)

Château de Hohenbourg is a castle ruin in the commune of Wingen, in the Bas-Rhin département of France.  

The castle is partly built within rock, and dates to the mid-13th century.  Its origins remain obscure; the first known

occupants were the Pullers, known as the Hohenbourgs.  Some of their seigneuries were common to the Fleckensteins,

a cause of frequent rivalries.  The castle was restored at the beginning of the 16th century.  The artillery tower is a

fine example of early 16th century military architecture.  Also from this period is a beautiful Renaissance doorway.  

From the terrasse the panorama takes in the Northern Vosges and the Palatinate.  The Château de Hohenbourg has

been listed as a monument historique since 1898.

 (Gwen Berson Photo)

Château de Hohenbourg.

 (Peter Schmenger Photo)

Château de Hohenbourg.

 (Ji-Elle Photo)

Château de Hohenbourg.

 (Ji-Elle Photo)

Château de Hohenbourg.

 (Gwen Berson Photo)

Château de Hohenbourg.

 (Ji-Elle Photo)

Château de Lœwenstein is a castle ruin in the commune of Wingen, in the Bas-Rhin département of France It is

dated to the 12th century and was destroyed in 1387.  The castle is also known as Lindenschmidt.  It was built for

the lords of Fleckenstein, and in 1283 it became a fief of the Holy Roman Empire.  It was a lair of brigands at the

end of the 14th century.  The castle is divided into two connected parts which, at some time in its history, belonged

to different lords.   Only a cistern is still visible.  It has been listed as a monument historique since 1898.

The name Lindenschmidt has been found on German maps of the 19th century and would be derived from the

name "Linkenschmidt".  It likle refers to one of the famous robber knights who had had the habit of shoeing his

horses upside down in order to better cover their tracks during his raids.  Legend has it that he was taken prisoner

with his son and his valet by the troops of the Bishop of Strasbourg.  Brought to justice in Schönau in the near

Palatinate, he was condemned to the gallows. Before the sentence was carried out, he admitted his crimes but

implored the clemency of the judge for his valet who had never killed anyone and who had been forced to follow

the sad outfits of his master.  The judge answered with this concise formula which has remained popular in the

region: “mitgegangen, mitgefangen, mitgehangen”. All three were hanged together. 

 (Gwen Bereson Photo)

Château de Lœwenstein.

 (Francois Schnell Photo)

Château du Grand-Geroldseck is a medieval castle ruin situated in the commune of Haegen in the Bas-Rhin

département in Alsace.  The castle is one of the oldest in the northern Vosges, founded at the beginning of the 12th

century by the lords of Geroldseck, avoués of the abbey of Marmoutier, to ensure the protection of its territories. 

It constitutes a fine collection of feudal residence.  Built on a platform, it combined the functions of dwelling and

defence.  It was heavily altered at the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries.  The square keep has walls three metres thick,

faced in embossed stone.  The cellars of the lord's residence and the barbican are still visible. 

Built in the 13th century, it was in the possession of a powerful family that took its name and occupied it until the

14th century. In the 15th century, the castle was abandoned and fell into ruin. It became a den of robber knights,

and was besieged and destroyed iin 1471. There are remains of a stone dungeon with bosses that was built around

1200, and of the lower level of the Roman stately home and many interior buildings. It has been listed as a

monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1898.  (Ministère français de la Culture.  Château-fort

de Grand-Geroldseck)

 (Pernmith Photo)

Château du Grand-Geroldseck gate.

Ground plan of Château du Grand-Geroldseck.

Drawing of Château du Grand-Geroldseck as it may have appeared before it became a ruin.

 (Francois Schnell Photo)

Château du Petit-Geroldseck, a ruined castle likely built in the 13th century by members of the Geroldseck family. 

The castle was a fief of Metz and was documented in 1235 as one of two castles on the same site.  The new castle

went up nearby in the 14th century and this one was abandoned in the 15th century.

 (Neri.jp Photo)

Château du Petit-Geroldseck.

 (Ralf Schultze Photo)

Château de la Petite-Pierre, Burg Lützelstein is a castle in the commune of La Petite-Pierre in the Bas-Rhin

département of France, in Alsace. All the names of the place are related to "small stone", and come from Old

Franconian Lítzelstäin, with the French name as a translation.

Originally there was a stronghold in the place, built by the family of Hugues IV of Nordgau, Count of Egisheim.  

Built at the end of the 12th century, the Château de la Petite-Pierre is recorded from 1212.  Count Hugo, either the

son or grandson of the powerful Count of Blieskastel, is held as the builder.  The fief was recognised as the "County

of Lützelstein", within the German Holy Roman Empire, at roughly the same time.

The counts  used the title Graf von Lützelstein, later also Comte de Petite-Pierre, as well as Comte de Lunéville in

Lorraine, which might be due to a confusion of transferral of power at some point.  In 1223, due to a conflict with

the Bishop of Strasbourg, the counts of Parva Petra were forced to yield it as a fief to the bishop as an episcopal

stronghold, under the bishop's reign.  In 1403, Friedrich of Lutzelstein died as the last was the last male heir of the castle.

His uncle Bourcard/Burkhard II of Lutzelstein, Bishop of Strasbourg (in office 1393 - 1394), was one of the claimants,

as well as Friedrich's sister, married to Johann of Leiningen.  Burkhard (of Friedrich?) divided the property letting

Palatine Count Robert III, Holy Roman Emperor, a fourth and the rest to his daughters.  Sons of Burkhard and of the

Leiningen family ruled for some time in Lützelstein. The Palatine Count Frederick I (1425 - 1476) seized it all in

1452/62 as the new holders died without legitimate heirs.  In 1566, it became the residence of George John I, Count

Palatine of Veldenz, who carried out major works. The French Army occupied the castle in 1677; in 1681 the county

was joined with in France.  Vauban was charged with improving the fortifications.  In 1870 that the fortifications

were removed.

Since 1977, the building has housed the administrative services of the Parc naturel régional (Natural Regional Park)

of Vosges du Nord.  In the multi-media exhibition there, a room is specifically devoted to the history of the castle

with, in particular, a superb model of Staedtel, the fortified old town, according to plans of 1771, and an impressive

sight of the castle's ancient cistern.  The fortified town, with the Saint-Louis chapel, the 15th-century church choir

and the bastion tower protecting the cisterns, is closely linked to the castle.

The castle is located at the end of a crest, separated from the old town by an artificial ditch dating from the

beginning of the 13th century.  The pentagonal keep was destroyed in the 19th century.  The residence has been

greatly altered but in its cellar the filtering cistern dates from the 14th century.  On the southern façade are

  Romanesque windows.  The well with Renaissance decoration, the main door with pilasters and the staircase

turret date from the 16th century.  The polygonal construction exhibits Gothic ornamentation, in particular hooked 

capitals.

 (Ji-Elle Photo)

Entrance to Château de La Petite-Pierre.

Engraving of tChâteau de la Petite-Pierre, 1 Jan 1849.

 (Ji-Elle Photo)

Entrance to Château de La Petite-Pierre.

 (Dsch67 Photo)

Château de Grand-Greifenstein is a medieval castle ruin, first built in 1100, in the commune of Saverne in the

French département of Bas-Rhin.  The Grand-Greifenstein was, without doubt, founded in the first half of the 12th

century by the knight Meribodo de Greifenstein who had close links to the Ochenstein family.  The Petit-Greifenstein 

dates from the end of the 13th century or start of the 14th century.  

Visitors can distinguish two castles separated by a large ditch.  The older part has the largest keep in Alsace with 13

metres a side.  A renovated tower stands between the two keeps at the centre of the site.  It was probably part of

Grand-Greifenstein.  From the terrace there is an unimpeded view of Saverne, the Château du Haut-Barr, the Château

du Grand-Geroldseck, the valley of the Zorn and the Saint-Vit chapel.  It is a property of the state, it has been listed

as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1898.

 (Dsch67 Photo)

Château de Petit-Greifenstein.

 (Guy Lecompte Photo)

Château de Herrenstein is a medieval castle ruin, first built in 1100, in the commune of Saverne in what is now

the French département of Bas-Rhin.  The seigneurie of Herrenstein, with the villages of Dettwiller, Dossenheim,

Hattmatt, Kleinwiesentau and Kugleberg, belonged to the Bishop of Metz who entrusted it to his advocatus to

protect the Neuviller Abbey (as the Grand-Geroldseck and Petit-Geroldseck castles protected the Marmoutier Abbey).

Though the site has probably been fortified since the 9th century, the present castle was built at the start of the 11th

century, by the Counts of Eguisheim-Dabo, then advocatus. Around 1005, Hugues d’Eguisheim sided with the Holy

Roman Emperor against the Bishop of Metz.  His castle was ruined by the latter's troops.  The castle was later rebuilt. 

Under the episcopate of Philippe de Florange (1261-1263), it was again ravaged, this time by Henri II de Lichtenberg

and the Bisho of Strasbourg.  From the end of the 13th century, the castle was ceded by the Bishop of Metz, to

Lichtenberg. Guillaume de Diest captured the castle around 1396.

The castle's domains were bought bit by bit by the free town of Strasbourg, which became dominant in 1480.  The

castle housed a garrison of six to twelve men.  In the 16th century, it was modernised by Daniel Specklin, architect

of the town of Strasbourg, to make it a fortress capable of resisting early artillery.  Herrenstein protected the

seigneurie where Protestants sought refuge, Strasbourg having adopted the Protestant Reformation.

During the French occupation of Alsace by the troops of Louis XIV, as part of his politique des réunions, Herrenstein

was bought by Reinhold de Rosen (1604-1667), the king's lieutenant general, who modernised it and lived there. 

 In 1673, the castle was destroyed by the French troops of Joseph de Montclar and it was used as a quarry for the

fortification of Lichtenberg.  A document dated 1778 describes Herrenstein as a "vieux château partiellement en

ruines avec une habitation pour le garde-chasse et le garde-forestier" ("old castle partially in ruins with a house

for the gamekeeper and forest keeper").  The castle is not classified as a monument historique by the French Ministry

of Culture, but does appear on the Ministry's database.

 (Francois Schnell Photo)

Château de Hohbarr is a medieval castle, first built in 1100, above the city of Saverne in what is now the French

département of Bas-Rhin. It was built on sandstone rock 460m above the valley of Zorn and the plain of Alsace.

Because of this, it has been called the eye of Alsace.  On several occasions it was expanded by the Bishops of

Strasbourg.  The Peace of Westphalia mandated the destruction of several castles, including Hohbarr, but after the

beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession, in 1701, the fortress was put back into service.  It was abandoned

in about 1770, but the vault continued to be occupied until the French Revolution.  Château de Hohbarr has been

listed as a "monument historique", by the French Ministry of Culture since 1874.

 (Geak Photo)

Château de Hohbarr, view from the East.

Engraving of Château de Hohbarr, view from the East before its destruction.

 (Francois Schnell Photo)

Château de Hohbarr, view from the North East.

  (VisitAlsace Photo)

Château du Freudeneck is a medieval castle ruin in the commune of Wangenbourg-Engenthal in the Bas-Rhin

département in Alsace.  The castle was built towards the end of the 13th century, with other construction periods

in the 14th and 15th centuries. Its construction is attributed to members of the Dicka family.  A text dated 1396 states

that this castle was in the possession of Gauthier de Dicka.  On his death early in the 15th century, the castle was

ceded to two brothers, the knights Guillaume and Jean Haffner of Wasselonne.  In 1408, a knight of Wilsberg (one

of the owners of Freudeneck) joined in alliance with the Margraves of Blade and took part in a battle with the City

of Strasbourg.  Troops from Strasbourg in turn besieged the castle and burned it to the ground. 

In 1450, an army from the town of Obernai attacked the defenders of what was left of the castle.  This assault

permanently destroyed the ramparts and buildings.  Little was left to destroy in 1618 at the start of the Thirty Years'

War.  On 4 October 1648, Louis XIV signed the Treaty of Westphalia ending the war.  The Abbey of Andlau bought

the remaining ruins and land in 1691.  In 1790, revolutionaries requisitioned the land.  In 1870, men cutting timber

near the ruin discovered a cache of Roman coins in a stump.

Built on a rocky outcrop, this small castle is not very homogeneous in its construction.  It was built with sandstone

 infilled with hardcore rock.  Surrounded by a ditch, it is composed of an enceinte and a keep on a curtain wall. 

The keep is built on a circular plan, but stands on a square buttressed base.  The external dressed stones present

a rustic embossing without edging, while the stones inside the enclosure are smooth.  A programme of restoration

work by volunteers has been underway since 2004.

Ground plan, Château du Freudeneck.

Drawing of Château du Freudeneck as it may have appeared c1400.

 (Denis Helfer Photo)

Château de Wangenbourg is a ruined castle in the commune of Wangenbourg-Engenthal in the Bas-Rhin

département of France.  In 1504, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilien I, having vanquished the Prince-elector,

Philipp, in the War of Succession of Bavaria, confiscated the castle from the Lords of Wangen, cousins Hans and

Stephan von Wangen, as a favour to count Tiestein.  He in turn gave it to the Archbishop of Strasbourg, Wilhelm III

von Hohnstein, in 1516.  Inspite of this, a branch of descendants of the von Wangens, Georg and Hartmann,

continued to occupy the castle.  Between 1535 and 1550, they rebuilt the castle in the Renaissance style.

From 1578, the Archbishop of Strasbourg and the lords of Wangen disputed property rights concerning the castle. 

The Wangens were expelled in 1578, but re-established their rights in 1595.  In 1680, the castle was occupied by

French troops.  In 1702, it was in ruins.  Restoration of the castle began early in the 20th century, and again in 1931.  

 (Denis Helfer Photo)

Château de Wangenbourg, front entrance.  The  footbridge over the moat was built in 1961 to replace the old drawbridge.

 (Denis Helfer Photo)

Château de Wangenbourg, view from the keep.

Château de Wangenbourg, plan view.

 (Denis Helfer Photo)

Château de Wangenbourg, Renaissance chimney.

 (Europeobis Photo)

Château de Hohenstein is castle ruin situated on the road between Oberhaslach and Wangenbourg not far from the 

Château du Nideck in the commune of Oberhaslach in the Bas-Rhin département.  Constructed at the start of the

13th century, the site spreads over a rocky outcrop at an altitude of 444 m.  The castle was built by the Hohenstein

family and the Bishop of Strasbourg was one of the joint owners at the end of the 13th century.  Bishop Berthold de

Bucheck was imprisoned in the castle in 1337 by Rodolphe de Hohenstein.  On his release, the bishop took the castle

which did not recover from its ruin.  The property of the state, it has been listed as a monument historique since 1898.

 (Pethrus Photo)

Château du Grand Ringelstein (or Château Ringelsbourg) is a 13th century castle ruin in the commune of

Oberhaslach in the Bas-Rhin département.  It was built around several sandstone rocks at an altitude of 644 m. 

At the summit there are only a few remains of buildings, including the remnants of a pentagonal keep in the north,

the most accessible part of the site.  The polygonal enceinte that surrounds the group of rocks is still well-preserved,

particularly on the south west side, where one can see several small fully arched openings.  Owned by the Eguisheims,

the site was recorded in the middle of the 12th century. After the extinction of the family, it passed to the Bishop

of Strasbourg.  A haunt of brigand knights, it was destroyed in 1470.  Ithas been listed as a monument historique 

since 1898, and is state-owned.

 (Pethrus Photo)

Château du Grand Ringelstein, Oberhaslach, Bas-Rhin.  South entrance. 

 (Pethrus Photo)

Château du Petit-Ringelstein (or Château du Petit-Ringelsberg) is a 13th century castle ruin in the commune

of Oberhaslach in the Bas-Rhin département.  It is sited on a small summit that it surrounds with its enceinte built

of dry stone walls.  The name Petit-Ringelstein is derived from the German words Ring (ring or circle) and Stein (stone).  

A dry stone wall circles the hill top, measuring approximately 61m by 21m, with a height of one metre.  It is

bordered by a ditch.  There is a quarry nearby from which rocks were cut and dressed.  They date, probably, from

the first third of the 13th century and would have been used for the Château du Grand-Ringelstein and/or the 

Château de Hohenstein.  

Nothing is known of the history of the Petit-Ringelstein.  It may have been a primitive form of castle.  Its present

aspect is probably from a later alteration, perhaps during a siege of the Château de Hohenstein.  It has been listed

as a monument historique since 1898, and is state property.

 (Les Amis du Château de la Roche Photo)

Château de la Roche is a castle ruin in the commune of Bellefosse in the Bas-Rhin dépatement in Alsace.  The

site was recorded as fortified in 1180, but the present castle ruins are from a later period, most likely from 1284.

The castle stands above the town of Bellefosse at 820 meters above sea level. 

The origin of the fortress then called Château de Rupe dates back to the 9th century.  It was held by the family of

La Roche (Stein) who were vassasl of the abbey of Sainte-Odile in 1180.  In 1284, the site was occupied by a

branch of Rathsamhausen family, who became the lords of Rathsamhausen zum Stein.  The castle was the seat of

the county of Ban de la Roche, which was not well thought of at the time.  In 1430 the castle was rented by the

Duke of Lorraine Charles II in order to ease the tensions between the counts of Salm and the town of Obernai. 

During this period, Squire Jerotheus zum Stein allied with Wecker from Linage and a group of scoundrels. They

planned to engage in robbery.  In reaction, in 1469, the place was besieged by a coalition led by the Duke of Lorraine J

ean II, the Count of Salm, the Bishop of Strasbourg, the Sire of Lichtenberg and the Margrave of Bade.  It was on

this occasion that the use of bombards and firearms was introduced in the region. 

The castle fell and the repentant brigand leaders enlisted in the Lorraine army.   In 1584, the county and the

ruins of the castle were sold to the Duke of Veldenz, and then to the barons De Dietrich.   At the end of the 19th

century, the Société de conservation des Monuments Historique undertook a vast restoration campaign and made

the rock accessible.  Today, the maintenance of the ruins which are private property is provided by the Club Vosgien.

The ruins stand on the mountainside on a vertiginous rocky peak, steep on all sides, separated from the slope by a

ditch more than 50 meters long.  At the cramped summit (8 by 5 meters) are the keep and the lodgings.  In the

lower courtyard, the remains of a tower remain.  One reaches the top of the rock by a series of three openwork

staircases clinging to the rock.  The views from the dungeon are exceptional.

Illustration of Château de la Roche before it fell into ruin.

 (chateauxfortsalsace Photo)

Château de Salm.

Château de Salm is a castle ruin overlooking the valley of the Bruche, located in the commune of La Broque in

the département of Bas-Rhine, Alsace.  Construction of the castle began in 1205 and was completed around 1400.  

It has been listed as a monument historique since 6 December 1898.

The Château de Salm was built between 1205 and 1225 by Henry III, Count of Salm (of Haute Lorraine), on the

territory of the Senones Abbey for which he was the lawyer.  The Salm dynasty originated in the 13th century with

the Counts of Bar (Bar-le-Duc), one of the more powerful families of Lorraine.  The Salm-Lorraine dynasty came

from the Luxembourg family.

Henry IV, grandson of the builder, reorganized the saltpans of Morhange as well as the Framont forges which were

situated close by.  Industrial politics provoked a military reaction around 1259 from the Bishop of Metz, who

occupied the installations and forced the count to sell him the castle at Salm and the Château de Pierre-Percée and

to swear fealty to him.  When the bishop left the castles, the count retook the fortresses.  In 1285, the trouvère 

from Lorraine, Jacques Bretel, spent several days at the castle where he met Count Henry IV. 

The area was the site of an important occupation throughout the 14th and 15th centuries (with foundry, metallurgy 

and pottery activities), without a doubt the after-effects of the acquisition by Jean de Salm of the lower valley of 

Bruche in 1366, from Mutzig to Schirmeck.  The large works completed around 1400 considerably altered the castle's

defences with the construction of a thick shielding tower, a barbican and a new gate.  The old shield wall was torn

down and adapted for new functional requirements.

The castle seems, however, to have been ruined around 1500 because it is recorded as a ruin in 1564, though no

documentary record of violent destruction is known.  Prince Constantin Alexander of Salm-Salm visited the castle

in 1779 in the company of the prince of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, to see an inscription on the bas-relief of an

outside wall.  The ruins served as a quarry soon after the annexation of the Principality of Salm-Salm by the French

Republic in 1793.  It was bombarded by French artillery during the First World War in 1914 because a German

observation post had been established there.

The castle was integrated into German territory by the Treaty of Franfort in 1871.  The remains were classified as

a historic monument by the Imperial Administration of Alsace-Lorraine on 6 December.  In 1919, the territory was

attached to the French département of Bas-Rhin.

Château de Salm stands at 809 metres above sea level on a rocky hill of red sandstone with a northeast-southwest

orientation.  The castle extends on different levels over an area of approximately 120 metres by 50 metres.  The

primitive castle of the 13th century, or Kernburg, was equipped in the southwest with a shield wall facing possible

attack, behind which were living quarters and the cistern.  A palace, or Palas, which shows the remarkable architectural

quality of elements which composed the decoration, is situated opposite the curtain walls in the northwest and

northeast, which dominate the keep, or Bergfried (tower refuge), constructed on the rock's highest point (its northern

extremity).  In the course of the 14th century, the shield wall was reinforced by one or two flanking towers before

a shield tower and a postern were built in the front, possibly at the beginning of the 15th century.  

Since 2004, conservation workers employed by the association of Veilleurs de Salm have been able to excavate

lost walls and to progressively understand more of the different stages of construction.  The reading of the plans

nevertheless remains very difficult, in comparing them to the few ruins which are left.  Few significant traces

remain of the shield tower, the vaulted ceilinged room that housed the cistern, which is rare in Alsace, and the

postern.  Analysis of the ruin's details shows the presence of large basses-cours built at the end of the fourteenth

century, a barbican and more interior battlements with doors and window slits.  There are cross-shaped windows

for crossbowmen in the 13th century.  There may have been a chapel, which was generally a standard fixture of a

count's castle.  The shield tower, which is flush with the second floor, has a large artificial hole (possibly damaged). 

It is named thus not only because it was intended to face siege cannons (the thickness of the wall reaching 3 metres),

but also because it hid the castle behind it.

The princely visit of 1779 was preceded by important repair works which weighed heavily on the face of the ruins. 

Even today, the plan and chronology of the castle's construction is still open to interpretation.  The assembly of

data and analysis of Gothic elements place this castle among the most beautiful counts' achievements of the 13th

century in Alsace and Lorraine.  (Histoire des terres de Salm, Société Philomatique Vosgienne, Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, 1994.)

 Ground Plan of Château de Salm.

Château de Salm, illustration, 1589.

 (SoffiLondo Photo)

Château de Salm.

 (Unidivers Photo)

Château de Salm.

 (Pradigue Photo)

Château du Nideck is a ruined castle located in the commune of Oberhaslach in the Bas-Rhin département of

France.  Situated on the heights of the road from Oberhaslach to Wangenbourg, the castle was first mentioned in

a charter in 1264, as the property of sire Bourckard, Burgrave of Nideck.  In 1336 there a second castle below the

first is mentioned, as a fief of the Bishop of Strasbourg and held by the Langraves of Basse-Alsace.  Nideck then

became the property of the seigneurs the region, in the 14th and 15th centuries, according to the various regional

conflicts and other events of the time.  It was besieged by the Strasbourgeois in 1448.  The Müllenheim family

then took possession of the castle and kept it until 1509.  It was finally destroyed by a fire in 1636.  The castle

overlooks the Nideck waterfall and is easily reached on foot.  The castle has been listed  as a monument historique

since 1898 by the French Ministry of Culture, and is owned by the state.

 (Wermain S Photo)

Château du Nideck.

Strasbourg (Straßburg) (Argentoratum) is the capital and largest city of the Grand Est region of France and is the 

official seat of the European Parliament.  Located at the border with Germany in the historic region of Alsace, it

is the capital of the Bas-Rhin department.

The Roman camp of Argentoratum was first mentioned in 12 BC; the city of Strasbourg which grew from it

celebrated its 2,000th anniversary in 1988.  The fertile area in the Upper Rhine Plain between the rivers Ill and

Rhine has been populated since the Middle Paleolithic.  Between 362 and 1262, Strasbourg was governed by the 

Bishops of Strasbourg.  Their rule was reinforced in 873 and then more in 982.  In 1262, the citizens violently

rebelled against the bishop's rule  in the Battle of Hausbergen, which led to Strasbourg becoming a free imperial

city.  It became a French city in 1681, after the conquest of Alsace by the armies of Louis XIV.  In 1871, after the 

Franco-Prussian War, the city became German again, until the end of the First World War in 1918, when it reverted

back to France.  After the defeat of France during the Second World War in 1940, Strasbourg came under German

control again.  Since the end of 1944, it is again a French city. 

 (Diliff Photo)

Strasbourg Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, or 

Cathédrale de Strasbourg), also, (Liebfrauenmünster zu Straßburg or Straßburger Münster), is a catholic cathedral 

widely considered to be among the finest examples of Rayonnant Gothic architecture.  Erwin von Steinbach is

credited for major contributions from 1277 to his death in 1318.  At 142 metres (466 feet), it was the world's tallest

building from 1647 to 1874 (227 years), when it was surpassed by St. Nikolai's Church in Hamburg.  Today it is

the sixth-tallest church in the world and the highest extant structure built entirely in the Middle Ages.  Sandstone 

from the Vosges Mountains used in construction gives the cathedral its characteristic pink hue.  The construction,

and later maintenance, of the cathedral is supervised by the "Foundation of Our Lady" (Fondation de l'Œuvre

Notre-Dame) since 1224.

 (Philippe Grouvel Photo)

Château d'Osthoffen is a château developed from an older castle situated in the commune of Osthoffen in the

département of Bas-Rhin of France, located about 15 kilometres from Strasbourg.  It is dated to the 12th or 13th century.

 (Ralph Hammann Photo)

Château de Kolbsheim is located near the town of Kolbsheim, in the French Department of Bas-Rhin, in Alsace.

It is 15 kilometers southwest of Strasbourg, overlooking the plain of Alsace. The chateau has two wings, the oldest

built in 1703.  The upper part of the garden is geometric French garden, decorated with ponds, fountains, hedges

and sculpted trees.  The lower part is an English park, with many hundred-year-old trees.  Much of the garden was

destroyed in the First World War, but was restored by the Grunelius family, the present owners.  The Garden is

classified by the French Ministry of Culture as among The Notable Gardens of France.

 (John Luke Schmitt Photo)

Château de Guirbaden is a castle ruin in the commune of Mollkirch in the Bas-Rhin département of France.  It

is situated in the Guirbaden forest, near the village of Mollkirch on the left bank of the Magel River, at an altitude

of 565 m.  The castle covers a larger area than any other in Alsace.  Dating from the 11th century, over more than

500 years it suffered several attacks, destructions and reconstructions.  It is currently privately owned.

 (Jean Marc Gaijean Photo)

Château de Guirbaden, main gate.

Château de Guirbaden, plan view.

 (AnRo0002 Photo)

Château de Guirbaden.

 (Torschti Photo)

Château du Landsberg is a castle in the commune of Heiligenstein in the Bas-Rhin département in Alsace,

France.  The castle includes a Zwinger with two sets of defensive walls.  Construction dates from the 12th, 13th

and 15th centuries.  The land belonged to the Abbey of Niedersmunster.  This castle is privately owned.

The central part of the castle was built in the late 12th century, and the newer outer castle added onto at the start

of the 13th century by Conrad de Landsberg to provide defence for the abbeys of Mont Sainte-Odile, Niedermunster,

Truttenhausen and Andlau.  More recent additions were made in the 15th century.  Herrad of Landsberg was born

here around 1130.

Engraving of Château du Landsberg  as it appeared in the 16th and 17th centuries.

 (Francois Schnell Photo)

Château du Landsberg, Alsace, France.

 (Torschti Photo)

Château du Landsberg, exterior view of the chapel.

 (Torsade de Pointes Photo)

Château d'Haut-Andlau is a medieval ruined castle in the commune of Andlau, in the Bas-Rhin département of

France.  It has been a recognized historical monument since 1926.  Built on a narrow granite outcrop at an altitude

of 451 m (~1466 ft), the Haut-Andlau dominates the valleys of Andlau and Kirneck.  The castle was built from

granite blocks, by Eberhard d'Andlau between 1246 and 1264.  In 1678, after the joining of Alsace to France, it

was pillaged by the troops of Maréchal de Créquy. The castle stayed in the hands of the counts of Andlau until

the French Revolution (1789-1799) and served afterwards as a residence for a gamekeeper in the service of the family.

Confiscated as a national asset, it was sold in 1796 to a merchant who, from 1806 and, with no apparent public

opposition, began to sell the castle piece by piece.  In 1818, Antoine-Henri d'Andlau bought the ruin and saved it

from destruction.  Repair work was carried out in 1856.  The castle was classified as a "monument historique" (historic

monument) in 1926 and was reinforced in 1927-1928 with a restoration campaign launched on the initiative of the 

Vosges Club (Club Vosgien).  It still belongs to the Andlau family.

The castle is on two levels.  The higher part is built on a narrow ridge approximately 25 m wide and 80 m long (~81

by 260 ft), orientated south-south-west to north-north-east.  It consists of a long residential building flanked at each

end by circular towers about 10 m (~33 ft) in diameter.  The castle was built in one piece; only the lower court has

been altered (in the 16th century). Like the neighbouring Château du Spesbourg, the building material was granite

excavated on site. To the east, a steep mountainside provides a natural defence while on the other sides, a wide,

deep moat cut into the rock isolates and protects the site.  (Ministère français de la Culture.  Château fort de Haut Andlau)

 (Valentin R Photo)

Like many Alsace strongholds, this citadel overlooked the Andlau and Kirneck valley to prepare for possible battles. 

This was useful for several centuries but Louis XIV decided otherwise after signing the treaties of Westphalia ending

the 30 Years' War and the region's attachment to France.  Indeed, the Sun King, by destroying a good part of the

castles of Alsace, wanted to reduce the power of these strongholds to protect themselves from the revolts of the local nobles.

 (Espirat Photo)

Château d'Haut-Andlau.

Front profile view of Château d'Haut-Andlau as it may have appeared in the 13th century.

Side profile view of Château d'Haut-Andlau as it may have appeared in the 13th century.

Plan view of Château d'Haut-Andlau.

 (Chris06 Photo)

Château d'Haut-Andlau, East face.

 (Espirat Photo)

Château d'Haut-Andlau.

 (Espirat Photo)

Château d'Haut-Andlau, main gate.

 (Espirat Photo)

Château d'Haut-Andlau, interior.

 (Otaku36 Photo)

Château de Spesbourg a castle ruin that dominates the valley above and northwest of the village of Andlau in the

Bas-Rhin department of France.  The ruin of Spesbourg Castle occupies a granite rock at an altitude of 452 meters.  

The castle was built between 1246 and 1250 by Alexander of Stahleck-Dicka, Vogt to Andlau Abbey.  In 1386 it

became the property of the family von Andlau.  In the 16th century angry locals set fire to the castle after one of

the lords seduced a village girl.  The castle fell into ruin after the Thirty Years' War.  In 1967 it was registered with

the national Inventory of Historic Buildings by the French Ministry of Culture.

The remains of the castle include a square keep and two residential buildings within a high circling curtain wall. 

On the first floor of the living quarters there are still traces of murals present.  The western living quarters were

demolished in 1550 when the castle was refitted.  In the bailey there are remains of 16th century buildings.

 (Chris06 Photo)

Château de Spesbourg.

 (Espirat Photo)

Château de Spesbourg.

Ground plan of Château de Spesbourg.

Château de Spesbourg, illustration.

 (chateauxfortsalsace Photo)

Aerial view of Château de Spesbourg.

  (Yves Noto Campanella Photo)

Château de Hohenfels is a castle ruin situated in the commune of Dambach, in Bas-Rhine.  The castle was built

at the end of the 13th century and recorded in a document for the first time in 1293.  It was destroyed by troops

from Strasbourg and Hagenau in 1423, and again during the German Peasants' War in 1525.

The semi-troglodytic castle is built on a sandstone table, separated from the crest of the hill by a ditch dug into the

bare rock.  The castle was built with six floors and allowed surveillance of the access roads towards Lorraine.  It

was certainly altered in the 15th century.  One can view the remains of the old wall closing the lower courtyard,

the surrounding wall of large dressed stones, and the cistern cut into the sandstone and its water collection system.  

Of the lower courtyard, only fragments of walls and a cistern remain.  The western platform has kept some remains

as well as a room cut out of the rock.  The manor house, at the eastern end of the summit, has kept its north wall of

dressed stones up to three levels.  Hohenfels was the first castle in Alsace to undergo properly scientific

archaeological digs.  The castle has been classified as a monument historique since 1985.  (Ministère français

de la Culture.  Château fort, Château Hohenfels)

 (Jmp48 Photo)

Château de Schœneck is a castle ruin situated in the commune of Dambach, in Bas-Rhine.  The castle was probably

built at the end of the 13th century, and stands on a rocky crest at an altitude of 380 m.  It was certainly built at the

instigation of the Hohenstaufens for hunting brigands who had been taking refuge in the area.  It was destroyed

around 1280, and was rebuilt in 1286.  It is mentioned in 1287 as the property of the Bishop of Strasbourg, an ally

of the Habsburgs.  He entrusted the upkeep to the Lichtenbergs, and pledged its allegiance to Schœneck.  

The castle was restored between 1335 and 1390 to adapt it to the progress of artillery.  It was modernised between

1545 and 1547 by the Exkbrechts of Durckheim, who had held the fiefdom since 1517.  The castle was destroyed

in 1680 by French troops, on the order of Louis XIV and, after the French Revolution, the ruins were bought by the

Dietrich family.

A small vaulted door and a larger entrance flanked by two 16th century bastions with cannon holes are still visible. 

The remains of the manor buildings appear as a Lombard frieze, notably because of the bay windows on the upper

level outside the western curtain wall, with their narrow semi-circular arches.  To the west, a rectilinear curtain wall

closes the lower courtyard while, in the east, a long wall is flanked by two towers.  The castle has been the subject

of consolidation works by the Association Cunulmergrun since 2000.  The castle has been listed as a monument

historique since 1984.

 (Michael Munch Photo)

Château de Schœneck, entrance.

 (Gwen Berson Photo)

Château de Schœneck.

Ground plan, Château de Schœneck.

 (Gwen Berson Photo)

Château de Schœneck.

 (Pernmith Photo)

Château de Schœneck.

 (Michael Münch Photo)

Château de Wineck is a castle ruin situated in the Wineckerthal quarter of the commune of Dambach, in Bas-Rhine. 

The castle was built around 1300 for the Windestein family.  It was intended to serve as an observation post to

complete the defensive system of the nearby Château de Schœneck.  It was dismantled at the end of the 17th century

on the orders of the King of France.

Built on a rocky peak, all that remains of the castle are part of the dressed stone walls and the corners of the polygonal 

keep, serving originally to protect a modest home that has since disappeared. The castle is reached through a gallery

cut into the rock, with a door halfway up the cliff.  The lower courtyard, on the eastern side, is enclosed by a partly

conserved enceint  It has been listed since 1985 as a monument historique. 

 (Palatinatian Photo)

Château de Wittschlœssel is a castle ruin situated in the commune of Dambach, in Bas-Rhine.  Wittschlœssel,

means small lock in German.  Built in the 13th century with the name "Schmalenstein", the castle is more of a

guard tower, standing on a rocky crest at an altitude of 440 m, dominating the valley of Obersteinbach.  It became

a small fort, completing the security of the nearby Château de Schœneck.  

Nothing is known about the founding of the castle. The careful stone processing suggests that it was built in the

13th century.  The castle was first mentioned in 1577 as Wydberg Schlolsslin.  Another early written record of the

castle is from 1657 in a description of the limits of sovereignty, the castle being in the possession of the lords of Lichtenberg and later the Eckbrechts of Dürckheim.  The castle was destroyed in 1677 along with the Château

de Schœneck. 

Very little of the Wittschlössel has survived.  Only a few remains of the wall and a room carved out of the rock

(without a ceiling) still bear witness to the existence of a castle.  Large parts of the facility are covered with rubble

several meters high.  The ruin consists of two rocks on the summit of Witt mountain.  Between the two rocks is a

ruined room.  Holes for beams can be seen in the rocks as well as the partition of a slanting building.  

The iron manufacturer Jean de Dietrich bought the forest area including the castle in the 18th century.  The castle

site was still of interest as a military observation post, for example in 1814 for French soldiers from Bitsch under

General Baron von Maureillan and in the Second World War for the French soldiers who fought a gun battle with

German troops at the castle site on 12 June 1940.  The castle is listed as a monument historique by the French

Ministry of Culture.  (Ferdinand Mehle: Burgruinen der Vogesen , Morstadt Verlag, Kehl, 1986)

 (Dsch67 Photo)

Château du Bernstein is a castle ruin in the commune of Dambach-la-Ville, in the Bas-Rhin département of France. 

It is situated at an altitude of 557m.  Originally, the castle belonged to the Counts of Eguisheim Dabo.  After the

siege of 1227, it became the property of the Bishop of Strasbourg and the seat of the episcopal bailiffs until 1580. 

Abandoned from this date, the buildings fell into ruin.

Bernstein castle is among the oldest in Alsace.  It was first mentioned at the beginning of the 11th century, though

the northern surrounding wall can be dated to prehistoric times.  The upper castle with its keep, manor house and

advanced works probably dates from the end of the 12th century and start of the 13th.  In the Gothic era, the manor

house was separated from the keep by a ditch, transformed later into a cistern.  Towards the end of the 15th century,

the St. Marguerite tower, so called from the name of the chapel there, was built in the rear courtyard.  Around 1835,

Félix Dartein cleared the ground of the lower castle to build a house and some outbuildings which have disappeared.  

The remains visible today date from several eras: 13th century: keep, lodging, chapel-tower, outbuildings, 15th

century: lower curtain wall, entrance gate, underground well.  The Château du Bernstein is state property and has

been listed as a "monument historique", by the French Ministry of Culture.  (Pollmann, Bernhard, 2003: Vosges :

50 randonnées sélectionnées dans les Vosges lorraines et alsaciennes. Munich: éd. Rother)

 (Tristan Schmurr Photo)

Château du Bernstein.

 (Olves Photo)

Château du Bernstein.

 (Pernmith Photo)

Château du Bernstein.

 (Gzen92 Photo)

Château de Ramstein is a castle ruin in the commune of Scherwiller, in the Bas-Rhin département.  Its name is

probably derived from the German Ram (crow) and Stein (stone) and signifies 'rock of the crow'.  The Château de

Ramstein is built on the same crest as the Château de l'Ortenbourg.  Standing at an altitude of 384 m, it is dominated

by the Château de l'Ortenbourg from which it is separated by a few hundred metres.

It was built around 1293 as a rear base during the siege of Château de l'Ortenbourg by Otto von Ochenstein, during

the conflict between Adolf of Nassau and Albert of Habsburg.  Originally built as a simple tower to support a 

siege engine, it grew at the start of the 14th century into a true castle with the strengthening of the tower and an

extra wall.  In 1421, it was attacked and pillaged by Strasbourg.  It was destroyed in 1633 by the Swedes during

the Thirty Years' War.  At the start of the 19th century it became the property of baron Mathieu de Fabvier, who

also owned Ortenbourg.  Today, all that remains are the exterior wall and two turrets, built of granite.  Because of

the risk of landslides, the castle has been closed to visitors since 1983.

The castle has been listed as monument historique since 1924.  It is the property of the commune.  (Bernhard

Pollmann : Vosges : 50 randonnées sélectionnées dans les Vosges lorraines et alsaciennes - Munich : éd. Rother,

2003)

 (Dsch67 Photo)

Château de Ramstein.

 (Chris ALC Photo)

Château de Ramstein, left, and Château de l'Ortenbourg, right.

 (Dsch67 Photo)

Château de l'Ortenbourg or Ortenberg is a ruined castle situated in the commune of Scherwiller in the département

of Bas-Rhin of France.  Its origins date back to the 13th century.  It has been listed as a historical monument since

1924.  This castle takes its name from the Ortenberg family, which has been present in Scherwiller since the tenth

century.  The Château de l'Ortenbourg, built in smooth white granite in the 13th century, is a fine example of

military architecture from medieval Alsace. It still has a 32 m pentagonal keep, a 17 m rampart with three rows

of arches and a stately home with Gothic windows. A large ditch separates it from the rest of the mountain.

c1004, the first castle was built on the rocky outcrop by a certain Count Werner d'Ortenberg, who also founded

with his wife Hymeltrude the abbey of Honcourt. The castle appeared in its current form in 1166-1167 with the

nobleman Werner von Ortenberg from Swabia, but in possession of Scherwiller. One of his descendants brought

the castle and the seigneury - the Albrechtsal, from Scherwiller to Saales, as a dowry to Rudolf von Habsburg,

landgrave of Upper Alsace, who built the current building.  

In 1262, the current building was built by Rudolph IV of Habsburg, future king of the Romans, to control the

valley of Villé. In 1293, it was besieged from the castle of Ramstein by Otton Ochsenstein during the conflict

between the Habsburgs and Adolphe de Nassau, owner of the place. In 1314, the castle was sold to the

Müllenheim family of the village of Scherwiller. In 1374, it was damaged by troops of John I of Lorraine, who

sought to protect his duchy from large companies. In the 15th century, it was used to ransom travelers. From

1470 to 1474, the castle was occupied by the troops of Charles the Bold, who came to clean up the region, then

taken over by the Strasbourg residents. In 1551, the castle was bought by the governor of Innsbruck, Nicolas de

Bolwiller. In 1633, it was set on fire and partially destroyed by the Swedes during the Thirty Years' War. In 1710,

the property went to the Count of Meuse. Hs family remained the owners until the French Revolution. In 1806,

it was bought by Baron Mathieu-Faviers who carried out major restoration work. His property was transferred to

the town of Scherwiller. In 1924, the castle was classified as a historical monument. Since 1966, the town of

Scherwiller, owner of the castle, has continued to maintain the castle in an alliance with various associations.

(Charles-Laurent Salch, Imagiers des châteaux et remparts d’Alsacevol. 1, Strasbourg, Châteaux-forts

d'Europe-Castrum Europe, 

 (Dsch67 Photo)

Château de l'Ortenbourg, donjon.

 (Espirat Photo)

Château de l'Ortenbourg, North-east entrance door, in the lower courtyard.

 (Espirat Photo)

Château de l'Ortenbourg, courtyard.

 (Francois Schnell Photo)

Rathsamhausen on the west of the site and the Lutzelbourg in the east.

 (Lutz H Photo)

Château de Lutzelbourg is a medieval castle ruin, above the town of Ottrot, in the Bas-Rhin department of Alsace.

The castles of Ottrott were built on the plateau of Elsberg about 500 metres above the surrounding land.  Two ruins,

separated by barely fifty metres, now stand here: the "Rathsamhausen" on the west of the site and the "Lutzelbourg"

in the east.  Recent excavations uncovered the foundations of a primitive castle between the current ruins of the

castles.  This primitive castle, named Old Lutzelbourg, was most certainly built before 1076 on the initiative of the

counts of Eguisheim solicitors of Hohenbourg's monastery (Sainte-Odile) located some kilometres away.

This first structure was destroyed by the Hohenstaufens at the beginning of the 12th century but was immediately

raised again by them to be finally enfeoffed to Conrad de Lutzelbourg in 1196.  In 1198, it was destroyed by arson 

by the Eguisheim-Dabos.

The construction of the new castle, known in the middle of the 16th century as "Rathsamhausen", was begun by

the beginning of the 13th under Otto of Burgundy who had decided to take back control of the region.  The works

must have ended after 1220, the Lutzelbourg being always present on the scene, because in 1230 Elisabeth de

Lutzelbourg was appointed abbess of the monastery of Hohenbourg.  By the middle of the 13th century the castle

presently called "Lutzelbourg" was built just below "Rathsamhausen".

Visitors to the site notice that the defences of "Lutzelbourg" are turned towards its neighbour, always in the hands

of the Hohenstaufen.  Historians suppose that it was built on the initiative of the Bishop of Strasbourg, Henri de

Stahleck, to gain control of the imperial possessions.  During the works, the defenders of "Rathsamhausen" were

not idle and built an impressive keep facing its neighbour.

By the end of the 13th century, the Hohenstaufen had already lost all their influence on the Empire and some kind

of agreement was probably found between Rudolph of Habsburg and the episcopal party.  In 1392, "Lutzelbourg"

was enfeoffed to the counts of Andlau, who ceded their rights the following year to the Rathsamhausen-Ehenweiers

already in possession of the nearby castle.  They undertook to reconstruct both at the beginning of the 15th century.

"Lutzelbourg" was again destroyed between 1470 and 1570, probably in 1525 during the War of the Boorish, whereas

"Rathsamhausen" was successively enfeoffed in 1424 to Henri de Hohenstein and then to his son-in-law, Daniel de 

Mullenheim.

Important Renaissanace style renovation works were begun by the Mullenheims between 1520 and 1530.  Conrad

de Rathsamhausen finally bought back the castle by 1557 from Caspar de Mullenheim.

It has since been known as "Rathsamhausen", the name it has today.  The castle was plundered and ruined during

the Thirty Years' War.  The castles of Ottrott are currently private property.  They have been listed as monuments

historiques since 1985.  (French Ministry of Culture)

Ground plan of the Lutzelbourg.

 (Lutz H Photo)

Château de Lutzelbourg.

 (Lutz H Photo)

Château de Lutzelbourg.

 (Lutz H Photo)

Château Rathsamhausen (Rathsamhausen Castle) is a historic monument located in Ottrott, in the French

department of Bas-Rhin.  It is located in Ottrott, in the district of Molsheim and in the community of communes of

Portes de Rosheim . It is private property.  It has been listed as a historical monument since 1985.  The keep of the

castle was the subject of a restoration campaign in 2019.  The site was undoubtedly occupied in the 11th century

by a wooden construction. A new building was built in stone after a fire in 1100, but it in turn was destroyed by a

fire around 1250. The large rectangular keep was built around 1200 with an enclosure of the house shortly after.

The site was dismantled at the beginning of the 13th century and a moat isolated the keep. The castle took the

name of Hinterlutzelbourg and Rathsamhausen from 1561.

Reinforcement of the curtain wall and a round keep were added in reaction to the work underway on the castle of

Lutzelbourg, previously named the Vorderlutzelbourg. In the 14th century, the enclosure was completed. The castle

of Lutzelbourg was bought in 1392 by the family of Rathsamhausen after a fire and it was rebuilt again c1400.

The coat of arms was then located in the house. It underwent work in the 15th century, particularly on the upper

parts of the false breeches, the front door and the barbican. The castles were then abandoned in the 16th century

and early 17th century before receiving restoration work and consolidation in the 19th century. Historical

discoveries on site confirm the dating. (French National Archives)

 (Torsade des Pointes Photo)

Ground plan of Rathsamhausen.

 (Lutz H Photo)
Rathsamhausen.
 (Franzois Schnell Photo)
Rathsamhausen.

(Pernmith Photo)

Château du Hagelschloss (also known as Château de Waldsberg) is a castle ruin in the commune of Ottrott in

the Bas-Rhin département of France.  It was built in the 13th century.  Hagelschloss is probably named because of

its position dominating the Hagelthal valley.  In the 19th century, it was known as Waldberg and is mentioned as

such in certain historic documents.  The castle is situated on the Hohenburgberg facing and to the north of Mont

Sainte-Odile.  It is close to The Pagan Wall of Mont-Sainte-Odile, and certain stones from the castle seem to have

been borrowed from this wall.  The castle can only be reached on foot, using footpaths provided by the Club Vosgien.  

The castle appears on the French Ministry of Culture database and is described as being in a poor state, but has no

official protection as a monument historique.  (Christophe Carmona et Guy Trendel, Les Châteaux des Vosges,

vol 2., Editions Pierron)

 (Gwen Berson Photo)

Château du Hagelschloss.

 (Dietrich Krieger Photo)

The Pagan Wall (Mur païen, (Heidenmauer) is a huge construction about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) long which encircles

Mont Sainte Odile.  It is composed of about 300,000 blocks, between 1.6 metres (5 ft 3 in) and 1.8 metres (5 ft 11 in)

wide and up to 3 metres (9.8 ft) high.  The origins and date of the wall are still disputed, with some claiming that it

is a 3,000-year-old druid construction and more recent research suggesting that it dates from the 7th century AD,

about the time that the convent was built.  The designation "Pagan" is attributed to Pope Leo IX.

The mountain and its surroundings contain evidence of Celtic settlements.  The mountain enters recorded history

during the Roman times; a fortress was supposedly destroyed by the Vandals in 407.  In the second half of the 9th

century, when Vikings attacked the Low Countries, which had been recently converted to Christianity and were

governed from Utrecht, the Utrecht bishops went into exile and stayed for a while in Mont Sainte-Odile.

Ground plan of the Pagan Wall and Mont Sainte Odile.

 (Dietrich Krieger Photo)

The Pagan Wall, Mont Sainte Odile.

 (Gwen Berson Photo)

Château du Kagenfels (Kaguenfels, Kagenburg) is a castle ruin situated in the Forest of Obernai, in the commune 

of Ottrott in the Bas-Rhin département of France.  The castle was built with granite in 1262 by Albrecht von Kage

(Albert de Kage), Ministeriales of the Bishop of Strasbourg.  The castle passed successively to the nobles of

Hohenstein, then to Utenheim and Ramstein, who sold it in 1559 to Lucas Wischbech (Luc Wisebock) who

repaired and enlarged it.  In 1563, the town of Obernai bought it.  It was destroyed during the Thirty Years' War 

and is recorded as ruins in 1664.  The castle appears on the French Ministry of Culture database and is described a

s being in a poor state, but has no official protection as a monument historique.  A programme of restoration is

underway.  (Ministère français de la Culture.  Château fort Kagenfels ou Falkenstein)

 (Pernmith Photo)

Château du Kagenfels.

 (Eric Soeder Photo)

Château du Kagenfels.

(Pernmith Photo)

Château de Dreistein (Burg Dreistein) is a castle ruin in the commune of Ottrott in the Bas-Rhine départment of

France. It is, in fact, three separate castles built on rocky promontories, hence the name drei Stein, "three stones"

in medieval German. The castle is sited on the massif  of Mont Sainte-Odile, to the west of the abbey. It overlooks

the valley of the Ehn which it controls along with the castles of Ottrott (Koepfel, Rathsamhausen and Lutzelbourg)

and the Château du Hagelschloss. As with the latter, it is close to the Pagan Wall of Mont Sainte-Odile. Access to

Dreistein is only possible on foot, following paths laid out by the Vosges Club (Club Vosgien).

The Château de Dreistein was built in the 13th or 14th centuries and was separated into two sections later. In the

17th century it was destroyed. In common with all the neighbouring castles of its time, the castles at Dreistein

are built using pink sandstone from the Vosges.  The remnants of the two castles are separated by a ditch. The

western castle is flanked by a half open staircase tower.  It has been listed as a monument historique by the

French Ministry of Culture since 1990. (Christophe Carmona & Guy Trendel, Les Châteaux des Vosges, vol 2,

Editions Pierron)

(Pethrus Photo)
Burg Dreistein.

Burg Dreistein ground plan.

 (Pethrus Photo)
Burg Dreistein.

(Gwen Benson Photo)
Château de Dreistein.
 (Gwen Benson Photo)
Château de Dreistein.
 (Gwen Benson Photo)
Château de Dreistein.
 (Gwen Benson Photo)
Château de Dreistein.

(Lutz H Photo)
Château de Koepfel.
 (Richieman Photo)

Château du Birkenfels is a castle ruin in the commune of Ottrot in the French départment of Bas-Rhine. Originally
built in the 13th century, it was burned down in the 14th century and restored in the 15th.  It is surrounded by the 
Obernai Forest.

Architects and historians date the construction of the Château du Birkenfels to around 1260.  The earliest recorded

mention is from 1289.  The entrance tower to the house and the lower courtyard are from the late 15th or early 16th

century.  It was built by Burkhard Berger, a vassal of the Bishop of Strasbourg.  The castle's position allowed

surveillance of the old Roman road running from Mont Sainte-Odile to Cham du Feu and the valley of the Bruche.

The castle belonged the Berger family until 1532, then to the Mundolsheim family until the French Revolution. 

The castle fell into ruins after the Thirty Years' War and was taken over by the town of Obernai, becoming part of

the continuous forest between Obernai and Bernardswiller.  The castle is today in a poor state.  Remains include

the ditch, wall, kee and lower courtyard.  The castle is privately owned.  It has been classified by the French

Ministry of Culture as a monument historique since 1984.

 (CECCI Photo)

Château du Birkenfels. 
 (Ji-Elle Photo)
Château du Birkenfels. 
  (Ji-Elle Photo)
Château du Birkenfels. 
 (Ji-Elle Photo)
Château du Birkenfels. 

(Bernard Chenal
Photo)

Château de Frankenbourg is a 12th century castle ruin in the commune of Neubois in the Bas-Rhine départment

in Alsace.  The castle features architecture typical of 12th century Alsatian Romanesque castles with the enclosure

wall, the entrance gate and the lord’s residence.

According to the 16th century architect, Daniel Specklin, it was Clovis, King of the Franks, who would have founded

the castle in the 5th century, to facilitate the passage of his troops in Alsace.  Its name ‘Frankenbourg’ thus meant:

‘The fortress of the Franks’.  On the stained glass windows of the now-missing castral chapel, Specklin claimed to

recognize the three toads of the Frankish coat of arms, later transformed into fleur-de-lis.

Founded on an ancient Roman site, the castle was first mentioned in 1125 as the property of the Count of

Frankenbourg-Saarbrücken.  In the 13th century, it was a fief of the Bishop of Strasbourg.  In 1483, the Great

Chapter of Strasbourg bought back the forest and the castle.  It would be destroyed by lightning in the 16th century.  

The castle is state-owned.  It has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1898.

 (Bernard Chenal Photo)

Château de Frankenbourg.

 (Alsace terre de château forts Photo)

Aerial view of Château de Frankenbourg.
 (Gzen92 Photo)

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg is a medieval castle located in the commune of Orschwiller in the Bas-Rhin

départment of Alsace.  It is located in the Vosges mountains just west of Sélestat, situated in a strategic area on

a rocky spur overlooking the Upper Rhine Plain.  It was used by successive powers from the Middle Ages until

the Thirty Years' War, when it was abandoned. From 1900 to 1908 it was rebuilt at the behest of the German Kaiser 

Wilhelm II. Today it is a major tourist site, attracting more than 500,000 visitors a year.  

The Buntsandstein cliff was first mentioned as Stofenberk (Staufenberg) in a 774 deed issued by the

Frankish king Charlemagne.   Mentioned again in 854, it was at that time a possession of the French Basilica of

St. Denis, and the site of a monastery.  It is not known when the first castle was built on this site, but a Burg Staufen

(Castrum Estufin) is documented in 1147, when the monks complained to King Louis VII of France about its

unlawful construction by the Hohenstaufen Duke Frederick of Swabia.  Frederick's younger brother Conrad III, 

had been elected King of the Romans in 1138.  He was succeeded by Frederick's son Frederick Barbarossa in

1152, and by 1192 the castle was called Kinzburg (Königsburg, "King's Castle").

In the early thirteenth century, the fortification passed from the Hohenstaufen family to the dukes of Lorraine,

who entrusted it to the local Rathsamhausen knightly family and the Lords of Hohenstein, who held the castle

until the fifteenth century. As the Hohensteins allowed some robber barons to use the castle as a hideout, and

their behaviour began to exasperate the neighbouring rulers, in 1454 it was occupied by Elector Palatine 

Frederick I.  In 1462, the castle was set ablaze by the unified forces of the cities of Colmar, Strasbourg and Basel.

In 1479, the Habsburg Emperor Frederick III granted the castle ruins in fief to the Counts of Thierstein, who

rebuilt them with a defensive system suited to the new artillery of the time.  When in 1517 the last Thierstein

died, the castle became a reverted fief and again came into the possession of the Habsburg emperor of the day, 

Maximilian I.  In 1633, during the Thirty Years' War, in which Catholics forces fought Protestants, the Imperial

castle was besieged by Protestant Swedish forces.  After a 52-day siege, the castle was burned and looted by the

Swedish troops.  For several hundred years it was left unused, and the ruins became overgrown by the forest. 

Various romantic poets and artists were inspired by the castle during this time.

The ruins had been listed as a "monument historique" of the Second French Empire since 1862 and were

purchased by the township of Sélestat (or Schlettstadt) three years later.  After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870

to 1871, the region was incorporated into the German Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine, and in 1899 the

citizens granted what was left of the castle to the German Emperor Wilhelm II.  Wilhelm wished to create a

castle lauding the qualities of Alsace in the Middle Ages and more generally of German civilization stretching from Hohkönigsburg in the west to (likewise restored) Marienburg Castle in the east.  He also hoped the restoration

would reinforce the bond of Alsatians with Germany, as they had only recently been incorporated into the newly

established German Empire.  The management of the restoration of the fortifications was entrusted to the architect 

Bodo Ebhart, a proven expert on the reconstruction of medieval castles.  Work proceeded from 1900 to 1908.  On

13 May 1908, the restored Hohkönigsburg was inaugurated in the presence of the Emperor.  In an elaborate re-

enactment ceremony, a historic cortege entered the castle, under a torrential downpour.

Ebhart's aim was to rebuild it, as near as possible, to the way it was on the eve of the Thirty Years' War.  He relied

heavily on historical accounts but, occasionally lacking information, he had to improvise some parts of the stronghold. 

For example, the Keep tower is now reckoned to be about 14 metres too tall.  Wilhelm II, who regularly visited the

construction site via a specially built train station in nearby Saint-Hippolyte, also encouraged certain modifications

that emphasised a Romantic nostalgia for Germanic civilization.  For example, the main dining hall has a higher

roof than it did at the time, and links between the Hohenzollern family and the Habsburg rulers of the Holy Roman

Empire are emphasized.  The Emperor wanted to legitimise the House of Hohenzollern at the head of the Second

Empire, and to assure himself as worthy heir of the Hohenstaufens and the Habsburgs.

After the end of the First World War, the French state confiscated the castle in accordance with the 1919 Treaty

of Versailles.  It has been listed since 1862 and classified since 1993 as a "monument historique", by the French

Ministry of Culture.  In 2007, ownership was transferred to the Bas-Rhin département.Today, it is one of the most f

amous tourist attractions in the region.  Bodo Ebhardt restored the castle following a close study of the remaining

walls, archives and other fortified castles built at the same period.

Engraving of Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg ruins, 1889, by T. Taylor.

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg ruins, 1873, Mathieu Bertola/Musées de Strasbourg.

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, 1914, Richard Huber.

Plan view of Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg.

 (Wrtalya Photo)

Aerial view of the Haut-Koenigsburg castle, Alsace, France; in the background, La Vancelle.

 (Edelseider Photo)

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, bronze smoothbore muzzle-loading cannon inside the fortification.  All of these cannon are replicas.

 (Tangopaso Photo)

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, XVIth century pair of bronze smoothbore muzzle-loading cannon inside the fortification.

 (Tangopaso Photo)

Inscription on one of the XVIth century bronze smoothbore muzzle-loading cannon, in the grand bastion of the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg (Bas-Rhin, France).  The year 1586 is written in latin characters.

 (Alfo23 Photo)

XVIIth century bronze smoothbore muzzle-loading cannon, mounted on a wheeled wooden carriage, in the grand bastion of the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg.

 (Tangopaso Photo)

Breech of the XVIIth century bronze smoothbore muzzle-loading cannon in the grand bastion of the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg, Bas-Rhin, France.  It shows an inscription with the year 1669.

 (Chatsam Photo)

Breech of the XVIIth century bronze smoothbore muzzle-loading cannon, in the grand bastion of the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg, Bas-Rhin, France.

 (Chatsam Photo)

Breech-loading smoothbore swivel gun, in the grand bastion of the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg, Bas-Rhin, France.

 (Tangopaso Photo)

Early smoothbore muzzle-loading cannon, in the grand bastion of the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg

 (Chatsam Photo)

Early smoothbore muzzle-loading cannon, mounted on a wheeled wooden carriage, in the grand bastion of the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg.

 (Wolfgang Sauber Photo)

Breech-loading smoothbore swivel gun, in the grand bastion of the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg.

 (Meffo Photo)

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, main entrance.

 (Olivier Photo)

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, view looking West.

 (Guilhem Vellut Photo)

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, first entrance, extrerior.

 (Michael Schmalenstroer Photo)

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, first entrance, interior.

 (Gregorini Demetrio Photo)

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, main entrance.

 (Tangopaso Photo)

Reliefs at the top of the main entrance of the Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg.

 (Zairon Photo)

Reliefs at the top of the main entrance of the Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg.

 (Fr Antunes Photo)

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, view looking East.

 (Darkan777 Photo)

View from the castle over the Alsatian plain, East to the Black Forest.

 (Michael Schmalenstroer Photo)

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, Grand Bastion.

 (Michael Schmalenstroer Photo)

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, Grand Bastion.

 (Bernard Chenal Photo)

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, view from the village of Orschwiller.

 (Gzen92 Photo)

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, view from the village of Orschwiller.

 (Bernard Chenal Photo)

The castles of Kintzheim and Haut-Koenigsbourg from the vineyards.

 (Antologie Photo)

Château de Kintzheim is a castle in the commune of Kintzheim in the Bas-Rhin départment of France dating

from the 12th century.  The castle ruin overlooks the village of Kintzheim.  Kintzheim was known in the 6th

century under the name of Regis Villa.  The Merovingian kings had made it into the center of a vast domain

including the valley of the Liepvre River and the forests of Haut-Koenigsbourg.  

In 774, the emperor Charlemagne made a gift to the Abbey of Liepvre of one part of his forests at Gunigesheim

(the former name of Kintzheim).  In 775, Charlemagne spent the Christmas holidays in the Palatium selestatis,

probably located at Kintzheim.  In 843, the Emperor Lothair I, the grandson of Charlemagne, gave Kintzheim to

Erchangar, the Count of Norgau and father of Richard, the future Abbess of Andlau.

The construction of the castle began around 1250 on the order of Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen.  The 

keep and the rampart which belongs to it were finished at the end of the 13th century.  The residential structures

were built during the 14th and the 15th centuries.  In 1341, Emperor Louis IV, known as "The Bavarian", gave

the village of "Kinsen" to the town of Sélestat.  In 1492, on the order of Emperor Frederick III of habsburg, the l

andvogt of Alsace, Gaspard de Morimont, sold the castle to the town of Sélestat.

In 1633, the castle was partly destroyed by the Swedes during the Thirty Years' War.  In 1649, the town of Sélestat

sold the castle for 3,000 florins to J.G. de Gollen, a former mayor of the town, who had been the minister of 

Ferdinand III of Habsburg to the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years' War.  Between 1650 and

1670, J. G. de Gollen restored the residential buildings and the chapel, but never actually lived in there.  Between

1760 and 1780, the last resident of the castle was a hermit monk who took care of the chapel.

The castle was taken care of during the 18th century by J. G. de Gollen, then by the marquis de Broc, his heir. 

The castle was abandoned following the French Revolution of 1789.  The roofs disappeared around 1830.  In 1801,

the marquis de Broc put it up for sale.  The town of Sélestat tried to regain possession of the property.  In 1807, a

decree of Emperor Napoleon I gave the Château de Kintzheim to Mathieu de Favier, who was obliged to pay

2,000 silver marks to the town of Sélestat to settle their claim.

In 1802, the future Baron of the Second Empire, Gaetan Mathieu de Fabvier, bought the castle, and below it he

built a manor house in the Directory style.  Between the two structures he built a park in the English style, which

today is classified by the French Ministry of Culture as one of the Notable Gardens of France He created a romantic

landscape garden, or jardin tableau, to highlight the view of the ruined castle, inspired by the paintings of Nicholas

Poussin, Claude Lorraine and Hubert Robert.  The family of Mathieu de Fabvier was close to the family of a

Minister of Finance of France, Jean-Georges Humann (1780-1842), whose descendants later became responsible

for preserving the Château de Kintzheim.

During the 19th century, the romantic movement brought medieval castles back into style.  Many castles in France

were restored by Viollet-le-Duc while in Germany Bobo Ebhardt restored many castles, including the castle of Haut-

Koenigsbourg, inaugurated by the Emperor William II of Germany in 1908.  In 1876, German architects carried

out a consolidation of the ruins of Kintzheim.

In 1945, during the Second World War battle for Alsace, the castle was used as an observation post, and the tower

was hit by artillery shells.  In 1965, the ruins were classified as a monument historique by the Ministry of Culture.  

In 1968, "The Eagle's Nest" was installed at the ruins, and became a tourist attraction drawing about 150,000 visitors

each year.  Since 1968, the castle features "La volerie des aigles" (The Eagles' Nest), which presents species of

predatory birds, such as eagles, falcons and vultures, which are in danger of extinction.  Spectators can attend daily

flights of the birds.  (Ministry of Culture, France)

 (Espirat Photo)

Château de Kintzheim, donjon.

 (Espirat Photo)

Château de Kintzheim, view from the western defensive ditch.

 (Espirat Photo)

Château de Kintzheim.

 (Espirat Photo)

Château de Kintzheim.

 (Chatsam Photo)

Château de Kintzheim.

Haut-Rhin (Oberelsass) is a department in the Grand Est region of France, named after the river Rhine.  Its name

means Upper Rhine.   Haut-Rhin is the smaller and less populated of the two departments of the former

administrative Alsace region, the other being the Bas-Rhine (Lower Rhine).  On 1 January 2021, the departments

of Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin will merge into the European Collectivity of Alsace.

 (Lionel Allorge Photo)

The Château de Hohenack (also described as Château du Hohenack and Château féodal du Petit Hohnack

is a ruined castle in the commune of Labaroche in the Haut-Rhin.  Significant building periods were the last quarter

of the 12th century, the 13th, 15th and 16th centuries.  In plan view, the edifice is typical of the 12th century,

constituting a polygonal curtain wall and a square keep.  The castle served both military and administrative functions

before being destroyed in 1655 on the orders of the King of France.  During the French Revolution, the ruin was

sold as national property and, until 1898, it was treated as a quarry.  The castle has suffered war damage.  The

property of the state, it has been listed since 1905 as a "monument historique", by the French Ministry of Culture.

 (Lionel Allorge Photo)

Château de Hohenack. 

 (Cham Photo)

Château de Hohenack. 

 (Nanaard68 Photo)

Château d'Échéry is a castle ruin in the commune of Sainte-Croix-aux-Mines in the départment of Haut-Rhin,

Alsace.  It has been dated to the 13th century.  The castle is also known today as Château de Haut-Echery or 

Château du Haut Eckerich and was originally named Château de Belmont.  The remains fo the castle stand

on a rocky outcrop to the north west of the town.  Only the supporting wall of the chapel, with heavy buttresses

remain is visible.  The remaining walls are of limestone hardcore.

The castle was created by the Duke of Lorrain, who gave it as a fiefdom to the lords of Echery, after whom the

castle takes its name.  It was first documented in 1250.  The castle suffered two sieges in the second half of the

13th century, after which, with the extinction of the Echery family, it was shared between the Ribeaupierre and

Hattstatt families The two families frequently quarrelled, to the extent that a wall was built to separate parts of

the castle.  In 1452, the Ribeaupierres entrusted the safety of their part of the castle to the knights of Andolsheim. 

The Hattstatts followed suit in 1463.  With the death of the last Andolsheim knight in 1472, guardianship of the

castle passed to Herrmann Waldner.  The castle was notorious for acts of banditry perpetrated by its occupants.

A chapel was added in 1460, built outside the original enceinte, against a thick surrounding wall.  The castle

was abandoned during the Thirty Years' War and fell into ruins.  After the French Revolution, it was bought

by a private owner and sold to the government of Alsace-Lorraine in 1880.  The castle was classified as a 

monument historique in 1898. However, owing to an advanced state of dilapidation, it was declassified in 1932. 

In 1993, it was sold by the state to an association (Association pour la conservation du château de Haut-Echery),

which became responsible for its maintenance.

 (Wernain S Photo)

Château de Walbach is a castle in the commune of Walbach, in the department of Haut-Rhin, Alsace.  It has been

listed since 1946 as a "monument historique", by the French Ministry of Culture.

 (Dsch67 Photo)

Château du Hohlandsbourg or Hohlandsberg is a ruined castle in the commune of Wintzenheim, near Colmar,

in the Haut-Rhin département of France.  It is open to the public between Easter and 11 November.

The construction of the castle, on the order of the Provost of Colmar, Siegfried de Gundolsheim, dates from 1279. 

The site, 620 m above sea level, allowed for surveillance of Colmar and its region.  In 1281, the townspeople of

Colmar revolted and set fire to the castle with the help of the Bailiff, Otton d'Ochenstein.

The castle came under the control of the Ensisheims before being given in 1410 as a fiefdom to the Ribeaupierres,

then Counts of Lupfen, who enlarged it.  In the 16th century, the castle belonged to Lazarus von Schwendi, general

of the Holy Roman Empire, who, it is said, brought Tokay vines from Hungary to Alsace.  He enlarged and strengthened the castle.

With Alsace becoming French at the end of the Thirty Years' War, the castle welcomed troops who blew it up in

1637 to prevent it falling into the hands of an Austrian army.

 (Francois Schnell Photo)

Château du Hohlandsbourg, inner court.

 (Gzen92 Photo)

Château du Hohlandsbourg.

 (Rolle Photo)

Château du Hohlandsbourg.

 (Tatiana Decroq Photo)

Château du Hohlandsbourg.

  (Gzen92 Photo)

Three castles, Château de Saint-Ulrich, Château du Girsberg and Château du Haut-Ribeaupierre overlook the commune of Ribeauvillé in the Haut-Rhin départment of France.

View of Ribeauville and the Alsace area with the three castles intact in the upper right of this Marian engraving.

 (Rolf Kranz Photo)

Three castles, Château de Saint-Ulrich, Château du Girsberg and Château du Haut-Ribeaupierre overlook the commune of Ribeauvillé in the Haut-Rhin départment of France.

 (Gzen92 Photo)

Château du Haut-Ribeaupierre, situated at an altitude of 642 m, overlooks Château du Girsberg and Château de

Saint-Ulrich.  Château du Haut-Ribeaupierre is the oldest of the Ribeaupierre's castles, its existence being known from

1084.  It was constructed on an ancient Roman site.  Then known as the "Altenkastel", it was Anselme de Ribeaupierre

who took possession of the castle in 1288.  Around 1368, Brunon de Ribeaupierre became the owner.  Dedicated to

a ferocious hatred for the English, he imprisoned Sir John Harleston, who had an imperial safe conduct, in the keep

from 1384 to 1387.  He was only freed with the payment of a large ransom and after pressure from the Holy Roman

Empire.  At the end of the 13th century, the castle became a residence of the Ribeaupierres.  Another noted prisoner

was held in the keep in 1477. Philippe de Croy, Count of Chimay, ally of Charles the Bold, was captured by a

Ribeaupierre at Nancy.  Most of the castle today is completely ruined and surrounded by dense vegetation.  It has

been listed since 1841 as a "monument historique", by the French Ministry of Culture.   (Carmona, Christophe &

Trendel, Guy : Les Châteaux autour de Ribeauvillé et Ricquewihr - Sarreguemines : éd. Pierron, 2001)

 (Gzen92 Photo)

Château du Haut-Ribeaupierre.

 (Bernard Chenal Pholto)

Château du Haut-Ribeaupierre, donjon.

 (Jeff Photo)

Château du Girsberg  (also Guirsberg, formerly named Petit-Ribeaupierre) is one of three casatles (with the 

Château de Saint-Ulrich and Haut-Ribeaupierre) which overlook the commune of Ribeauvillé in the Haut-Rhin

département of France.  It stands at an altitude of 528 m.  The Lords of Ribeaupierre built the castle, then named

Stein (La Roche), in the 13th century.  They rebuilt it after a fire caused by lightning in 1288.  In 1304, they gave

it to their vassals, the knights of Guirsberg, from whom the castle took its name.  The Guirsbergs kept it until they

died out in the 15th century.  It was abandoned in the 17th century.

The remains currently visible date from several epochs, with the13th century pentagonal keep, the 14th century

inner court, and the 15th century corps del logis.   It has been listed as a "monument historique", by the French

Ministry of Culture, since 1841.  (Mengus, Nicolas : Au temps des châteaux forts en Alsace - Strasbourg : éd. Coprur, 2004)

19th century drawing of Château du Girsberg.

Château du Girsberg, ground plan.

 (Bernard Chenal Photo)

Château du Girsberg.

 (Eric Spenle Photo)

Château du Girsberg.

 (Haretuerk Photo)

The Château de Saint-Ulrich (also known as the Château de Grand-Ribeaupierre) is one of three castles (with

the Girsberg and the Haut-Ribeaupierre) which overlooks the commune of Ribeauvillé in the Haut-Rhin départment

of France.  It is situated at an altitude of 528 m.  The present name of the site is from the chapel dedicated to Saint

Ulrich of Augsburg which is found in the castle.  Medieval texts never gave the present name - the castle had the

name of the Rappolstein dynasty (or Ribeaupierre in the French style).

From the 11th to the 16th centuries, the castle was the principal residence of the powerful lords of Ribeaupierre. 

There must have been another castle on the same site which belonged in 1114 to the Bishop of Basel.  It was

occupied militarily by Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, who used it as a strongpoint in his war against the 

Eguisheims.  It was then returned to the Bishop of Basel who restored it to the Ribeaupierres.  Anselme II de

Ribeaupierre, who chased the other members of the family from the castle, successfully survived two sieges, in

1287 by Rudolph I of Germany and, in 1293, his successor Adolf.  A celebrated criminal, Dame Cunégonde

d'Hungersheim, was incarcerated in the keep and tried to escape with the aid of a guard.

The castle is a very fine example of the military architecture of Alsace in the Middle Ages, including a keep

erected in the 12th century and a residence with chimney of the 12th century.  In the 13th century, the salle des chevaliers (knights' hall) was decorated with nine beautiful windows in the Romanesque style, which can still

be seen.  In the same period (1435), the chapel dedicated to Saint Ulrich, Bishop of Augsburg, was built.

The Ribeaupierre family left this castle in the 16th century for a Renaissance-style mansion (the present school

in Ribeauvillé). The castle was dismantled during the Thirty Years' War.

The visible remains date from several epochs, including the 12th century square keep and the corps de logis, the

13th century Salle des chevaliers, and the residential tower, the 14th century barbican and outer enceinte, and the

15th century Chapel (Saint-Ulrich).  The Château de Saint-Ulrich has been listed since 1841 as a "monument

historique" by the French Ministry of Culture.  (Mengus, Nicolas, Au temps des châteaux forts en Alsace -

Strasbourg, éd. Coprur, 2004)

 (Joachim Haller Photo)

Château de Saint-Ulrich, aerial view.

 (Chatsam Photo)

Château de Saint-Ulrich.

 (BUFO88 Photo)

Château de Saint-Ulrich.

 (Psu973 Photo)

Château de Saint-Ulrich.

 (Ralph Hermann Photo)

Château de Saint-Ulrich.

 (Andrew Warington Photo)

Château de Saint-Ulrich.

 (Torsade de Pointes Photo)

Château des comtes de Montbéliard-WurtembergRiquewihr, Haut-Rhin department, Alsace, France, is the former

castle of the Counts of Wurtemberg.  Currently, it is the Museum of Communication in Alsace.  The Château de Saint-

Ulrich has been listed since 1900 as a "monument historique" by the French Ministry of Culture.

 (Kroogy68 Photo)

Château de Reichenstein is a ruined castle in the commune of Riquewihr Haut-Rhin department, Alsace.  It has

been listed since 1990 as a "monument historique" by the French Ministry of Culture.  The ruined remains consist

of the orps de logis (facades, roofs, oriel, large staircase on the courtyard side, wrought iron balcony), interior

(large room on the ground floor with fireplace and door), enclosing wall with entrance arches, perimeter wall with

north gate, two pavilions (facades, roofs, niche with well), gate with west gate, two statues, gate and gate, stone

piers, garden with low walls, stairs, benches, fountain, sandstone basins and statues).

(Torsade de Pointes Photo)

Château de Kaysersberg aka Château du Schlossberg, is a ruin in the commune of Kayserberg. 

The castle was built for Albin Woelflin, imperial bailiff for Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, around 1220.  The

site was acquired in 1227 by the lords of Horbourg and Ribeaupierre.  It had an important strategic role as it allowed

the Empire to close off one of the routes across the Vosges Mountains towards Lorraine.  The circular Keep is the

oldest part of the castle and one of the first of this type in the upper Rhine valley.  It was designed at the same time

as the keep at the Château de Pflixbourg.  The first curtain wall, which included the keep, was replaced after 1261

by a wall enclosing the keep, according to a contemporary plan, which allowed an uninterrupted circuit of the walls

and strengthened defences on the side likely to be attacked.  In the 14th century, the castle was the residence of the

imperial provost or bailiff.  Following a fire, the enceinte was raised to 4 m.  In the second half of the 15th century,

the castle defences were modernized in response to developments in artillery and firearms; the crenels were closed

with wooden shutters, the merlons were equipped with firing slits and the round walk was completely covered.  In

this period, the castle was merely a sub-bailliage and personnel were heavily reduced.  During the German Peasants'

War (1524-1525), the castle was besieged.  It was restored by Lazarre de Schwendi in 1583.

According to archaeological excavations and studies, the castle was abandoned at the end of the 16th century.  After

the French Revolution (1789-1799), it was declared a national asset and sold to François Joseph Boecklin de

Boecklinsau, who planted vines, and later passed to the Bastard family.

The castle is largely built from granite.  It stands at an altitude of 295 m (approx. 975 ft) and dominates from

50 m the north side of the town.  The castle has a triangular plan dominated by the circular keep in the highest

point.  The keep is 11 m (36 ft) in diameter with walls 4.42 m (14 12 ft) thick.  The original parapet has been

kept to a height of 0.55 m, with the crenels and merlons restored.  The spiral staircase is concrete.  Access is

to the first floor, through an arched doorway.  The spacious third floor served as a storeroom and provided access

to the platform which was originally covered. The keep had a purely military function.  The main residential

buildings were situated against the east curtain wall.  On the other side, towards the town, was a large lower

courtyard. The entrance to the castle, in the east, was by an arched doorway with a barbican; to the left is a

cruciform cannon opening and a circular firing hole.  The castle's enceinte is linked to the town's by curtain walls

with a round walk.  The Château de Kaysersberg has been listed as a "monument historique" by the French

Ministry of Culture since 1841.

Château de Kaysersberg, ground plan.

 (Krzysztof Golik Photo)

Château de Kaysersberg.

 (Krzysztof Golik Photo)

Château de Kaysersberg.

 (Krzysztof Golik Photo)

Château de Kaysersberg.

 (Michael Schmalenstroer Photo)

Château du Pflixbourg is a castle in the commune of Wintzenheim, in the Haut-Rhin département of France. The

castle has been listed as a Monument historique since 1968 by the French Ministry of Culture.  

This site appears to have been occupied since the Bronze Age.  The castle was built between 1212 and 1219 by
Woelfelin de Haguenau, imperial governor of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen. He named it Blicksberg. It is first
mentioned in a charter dated 7 May 1220, confirming its donation in favour of Frédéric de Schauenbourg, minister
of the empire. In 1276, it became the main residence of the Imperial Bailiff Conrad Werner de Hattstatt, whose wife,
Stéphanie de Ferrette, died there on 23 September that year.
The castle was consecutively transferred by the emperor in 1298 to the Lord of Usenbourg, in 1316 to
Otto d'Ochsenstein, in 1330 to King John of Bohemia, in 1375 to the Sires of Hus, then in 1433 to the Vice-
Chancellor Caspar Schlick who sold it in 1434 to Maximin de Ribeaupierre. Located between the plain and the
valley of the Fecht, the castle was an important strongpoint and had a military garrison. It was seriously damaged
around 1446, in the conflict between the Hattstatt and Ribeaupierre for the domination of central Alsace. It does
not seem to have been inhabited subsequently. It has been listed as a historical monument since 17 December 1968.
The castle was constructed in the form of a hexagonal enclosure surrounded by a moat and commanded by a 
massive circular keep. Its entry system (to the west) is unique in Alsace. The door, which has disappeared, is
placed at the end of a "corridor" 12 meters long, delimited by re-entrant curtains. It is defended by two loopholes.
The 23-meter-high cylindrical keep is one of the first of its type in Alsace. Its entry door in a broken arch, placed
on the floor (at approximately 9 meters), dominates the access corridor of the enclosure. The dungeon has archery
loopholes on the opposite side.
The lodgings are supported against the enclosure to the west and north of the site with the stables and outbuildings.
In order to provide the garrison with water, an underground cistern was cut into the rock, near the keep. It measures
5 m by 7 m and its barrel vault rises to 5 m. The castle, today in ruins, underwent major restoration work in 1864,
then more recently in 1983 and 2006.

 (Andrew Warrington)

Château du Pflixbourg, aerial view.

 (Michael Schmalenstroer Photo)

Château du Pflixbourg, donjon interior view.

 (Torsade de Pointes Photo)

Château du Wineck is a ruined castle in the commune of Katzenthal in the Haut-Rhin département of France.

It was constructed during the 13th and 14th centuries.  Surrounded by vineyards, the castle stands on a granite 

rocky outcrop.  The keep is 20 metres high with an almost square plan (7 m by 7.5 m).  A modern external staircase

on the western side of the keep gives access to the first floor via a 19th-century entrance.  A modern interior staircase

gives access to higher levels.  Originally, the second floor was entered via a high door in a gothic arch off a walkway

in the south wall (today, a wooden balcony) leading to the roof of the residence to the west of the keep.  On the third

floor, to the north, a latrine remains.  In the south-eastern corner of the roof there is a gargoyle.  The original parapet

has been restored.  The horseshoe shaped enceinte enclosed the keep from the north and parts of its round walk still

exists.  To the west of the keep was the residence; to the east the stables.  A second enceinte opposite the castle

sheltered the lower courtyard.  The moat surrounding the castle was cut into rock in the north.

The Société pour la Conservation des Monuments historiques en Alsace (Society for the conservation of historic

monuments in Alsace) acquired the castle in 1866 and has owned it ever since.  From 1972, the castle was restored

by the Société pour la Restauration et la Conservation du Château de Katzenthal (Society for the Restoration and

Conservation of the Château de Katzenthal).  The castle was listed in 1984 as a Monument historique by the French

Ministry of Culture.  In 1991, the surrounding enceinte was also listed.

 (Luftfahrer Phorot)

Neuf-Brisach (Neubreisach) is a fortified town and commune of the department of Haut-Rhin in Alsace.  The

fortified town was intended to guard the border between France and the Holy Roman Empire and, subsequently,

the German states.  It was built after the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697 that resulted in France losing the town of 

Breisach, on the opposite bank of the Rhine.  The town's name means New Breisach.

Work began on the fortified town in 1698, to plans drawn by Vauban, a military engineer at the service of Louis

XIV.  Vauban died in 1707 and this, his last work, was completed by Louis de Cormontaigne The city's layout

was that of an 'ideal city', as was popular at the time, with a regular square grid street pattern inside an octagonal

fortification.  Generous space was given to a central square across the four blocks at the middle, flanked by an

impressive church.  Individual blocks were offered for private development, either as affluent houses in private

gardens, or as properties for commercial rent.  Simpler housing was provided in long tenement blocks, built inside

each curtain wall, which also had the effect of shielding the better houses from the risk of cannon fire.  Access was

provided by large gateways in the principal four curtain walls.

The fortifications are Vauban's final work and the culmination of his "Third System" There are two lines of

defence, an inner enceinte de sûreté, the bastion wall around the city, and an outer enceinte de combat, a system

of concentric star-shaped earthworks.  The curtain wall was largely octagonal, with each flank separated roughly

into three and the outer bastion projecting slightly, so as to flank the centre of the walls.  Each corner had a raised

outwardly projecting pentagonal bastion tower, the highest points of the system.  The outer earthworks were deep

and occupied a greater area than the city itself.  The inner walls were surrounded by tenailles before the centres

of the curtain walls and counterguards before the bastions.  In front of the centre of each curtain face was a large tetrahedral ravelin, those in front of the gateways also being topped by a reduit to the rear.  Outside all of these

earthworks was a covered way.

The city suffered damage during the Second World War, but still represents a very clear example of the latest in

fortification work at the beginning of the eighteenth century.  In 2008, the ville neuve of Neuf-Brisach was listed

as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Fortifications of Vauban group.  (Líbal, Dobroslav (1999) [1992]. 

Castles of Britain and Europe (English language ed.). Blitz Editions)

Ground plan of Neuf-Briesach.

 (Jean Pierre Lozi Photo)

Aerial view of Neuf-Briesach.

 (Erich Gaba Photo)

Neuf-Briesach moats and fortifications conceived by Vauban.

(Espirat Photo)

Husseren-les-Châteaux, alternatively referred to as the three castles of Eguisheim, stand in the French Vosges in

upper Alsace in the department of Haut-Rhin. The group of castles is variously named after the nearby town of

Eguisheim, or the village of Husseren-les-Châteaux. The three castles, from north to south called the Dagsburg,

the Wahlenburg and Weckmund Castle, were built in close proximity to one another, but not at the same time, on

a low hill ridge. This type of arrangement, with a cluster of three castles, is found in several places in the Vosges

and the nearby Palatine Forest in Germany.

 (Gzen92 Photo)

Châteaux de Weckmund, Châteaux de Wahlenbourg, and Châteaux de Dagsbourg, the three castles of Husseren-les-

Châteaux at Eguisheim, Haut-Rhin, France.

 (Russ Bowling Photo)

Châteaux de Dagsbourg.

 (Ernst Andre Photo)

Châteaux de Dagsbourg.

 (Espirat Photo)

Châteaux de Dagsbourg.

 (Espirat Photo)

Châteaux de Dagsbourg.

 (Gzen92 Photo)

Châteaux de Wahlenbourg, Husseren-les-Châteaux.

 (Helena Photo)

Châteaux de Wahlenbourg, Husseren-les-Châteaux.

 (Helena Photo)

Châteaux de Wahlenbourg, Husseren-les-Châteaux.

 (Jean Melis Photo)

Châteaux de Wahlenbourg, Husseren-les-Châteaux.

 (Prooupy Photo)

Châteaux de Wahlenbourg, Husseren-les-Châteaux.

 (Gzen92 Photo)

Châteaux Weckmund, Husseren-les-Châteaux.

 (Ed Clayton Photo)

Châteaux Weckmund, Husseren-les-Châteaux.

 (Espirat Photo)

The Château du Hugstein is a ruined castle on the borders of the communes of Buhl and Guebwiller in the

Haut-Rhin.  The castle was built in 1227 by Hugo (Hugues) de Rothenbourg, abbot prince of Murbach from 1216

to 1236.  It was constructed between the communes of Buhl and Guebwiller, to defend both the Murbach Abbey 

and the entrance to the Florival valley.

In 1313, the abbot Conrad Wiedergrun de Stauffenberg consecrated the castle chapel to the Holy Cross and Saint

Benoît. Abbot Barthélémy d'Andlau modernized the castle during the 15th century, notably adding a gate tower

decorated with a frieze and equipped with a drawbridge.  Two new towers were also added to the defensive system

of the castle even though its principal role had become residential. 

Georges de Masevaux continued with the restoration but died in 1542.  The castle then became the subject of a

quarrel about succession between Henri de Jestetten and his cousin Rodolphe Stoer de Stoerenbourg, abbot of

Honcourt and Capitulary of Murbach.  The latter finally won, but the fortress suffered from the affair.  In 1598,

the castle was struck by lightning. At the start of the 17th century, it was used as a prison, particularly for

Lutherans and witches, of whom it is said that some were burned in front of the castle.  Abandoned, it provided

shelter for the poor before finally being used as a stone quarry. 

The stone which built the castle was extracted from the moat which surrounded it.  The cylindrical keep, 10 m in

diameter, is comparatively rare in Alsace.  The higher part of the keep was removed when the site served as a

quarry.  The main coprs de logis had two or, indeed, three floors giving the building a certain magnificence.  The

Gothic keystone to the chapel vault, decorated with an Easter lamb, is displayed at the Florival Museum (Musée

Théodore Deck) in Guebwiller.

The defences consisted of ramparts rounded at the corners, designed to create an illusion to attackers that the

castle was equipped with cylindrical towers.  The Château du Hugstein has been listed since 1898 as a "monument

historique", by the French Ministry of Culture, although the Ministry database refers to it as de Hugstein.

 (Rémi Stosskopf Photo)

Château du Hugstein.

 (Espirat Photo)

Château du Hugstein.

 (Espirat Photo)

Château du Hugstein.

 (Espirat Photo)

Château du Hugstein.

 (Bernard Chenal Photo)

Château d'Orschwihr is a castle in the commune of Orschwihr in the department of Haut-Rhin.

The first recorded mention of the Château d’Orschwihr dates back to 1049.  It is said that Pope Leon IX of

Egusiheim was a guest when he consecrated the church of the neighboring village of Bergholtz-Zell.  Rudolphe

Habsuburg acquired the Château at the end of the XIIIth century.  He later become Emperor of the Romans and

founded the Habsburg dynasty that lasted until the early XXth century.  Maximilian, another of the Habsuburg

dynasty, sold the Château to the Bishop of Strasbourg in 1513, who later sold it to the local nobility but retained

the vineyards.  During the French Revolution the Château was seized and sold to non-nobles.

The Hartmann family acquired the Château in 1854.  It was an expensive residence to maintain and since 1789 it

had changed hands several times owing to successive owners giving up and selling it on.  At that time it was still

surrounded by a moat, albeit empty, and was only accessible by one narrow bridge.  The family turned the property

into a farm, demolished the western walls, and filled in the moat on the western side in order to provide more

convenient access, building a barn on top in the process.  In 1934 a fire lasting two days destroyed the Château

entirely.  It was partially rebuilt in 1936.  Further construction was carried out in 1973 but only on the cellars and

the barn was converted into a cellar in 1987 providing large under ground facilities that were again extended in

2001 with the construction of the western wing.

The first mention of the Château d’Orschwihr wines dates back to XVIth century and relates to the sale of a barrel

of wine to the Murbach Abbey.  However wine is known to have been produced in the area as far back as the Roman period.

 (Torsade de Pointes Photo)

Château de Lupfen-Schwendi is a castle in the commune of Kientzheim in the department of Haut-Rhin, Alsace. 

Lupfen-Schwendi castle is the former seat of the seigneury of Hohlandsberg.  The house, supported by the urban

wall, was built between 1415 and 1430, remodeled in the 16th (Lazare de Schwendi), 17th (baron de Montclar),

18th and late 19th centuries (baron de Castex).  The castle suffered war damage.

 (Ralph Hammann Photo)

Château de Lupfen-Schwendi.

 (Torsade de Pointes Photo)

Château de Lupfen-Schwendi.

 (Bernard Chenal Photo)

Château d’Orschwihr.

 (AlineRockstud Photo)

Château Saint-Léon is a former castle in the commune of Eguisheim in the Haut-Rhin département of France,

Eguisheim.  The castle was long believed, mistakenly, to date from the 11th or 12th century.  This was because of

historians relying on texts actually describing another castle, the Château de Haut Eguisheim, and the birthplace in

1002 of Pope Leo IX (Saint-Léon).  In fact, the castle's octagonal plan and central keep, its masonry and, most

importantly, its similarity to other castles, date it to the first part of the 13th century.

The castle was built by the Counts of Eguisheim and taken over by the Bishop of Strasbourg during the 13th century. 

An episcopal bailiff occupied it until the French Revolution (1789-1799).  The enceinte was surrounded by a moat 

which was filled in by the 18th century.  Houses built in the castle courtyard and against its walls were destroyed by

a fire in 1877 which also damaged the castle - it was left in runs for many years.

In 1885, it was bought by the Bishop of Strasbourg through the mediation of a M. Stumpf who wanted to build a

chapel dedicated to Saint Leo.  The remains of the keep were destroyed and the chapel built in its place, the works

being carried out by the architect of historic monuments, Charles Winkler.  The chapel was completed in 1895.

Winkler also restored the residence at the south of the site which had been rebuilt, with mullioned windows in the

16th century.  He added a staircase turret and a neo-Renaissance balcony.  It has been listed since 1903 as a 

monument historique, by the French Ministry of Culture.

 (Rémi Stosskopf Photo)

The Château de Buchenek is a castle in the commune of Soultz-Haut-Rhin.  Dating from the second half of the

13th century, it was altered, possibly in the 14th century, and in the 16th century.  The castle was first recorded in

1251.  The logis, of a rectangular plan, possibly still dates from this period at the lower level; it was altered in the

14th century (there is evidence of building work) as well as in the second half of the 16th century (staircase tower). 

Restored after the Thirty Years' War, the castle was sold as national property.  In the 19th century it was used as a

factory.  Bought by the town in 1976, the castle has had a significant restoration and, since 1990, has housed the

municipal museum.  It has been listed since 1984 as a "monument historique", by the French Ministry of Culture.

 (Espirat Photo)

Château de Ferrette is a castle ruin in the of Ferrette in the Haut-Rhin.  It stands on a rocky peak reaching 612 m

altitude, overhanging the town of Ferrette.  Here, Frederic of Montbeliard, son of Louis IV, Count de Monbéliard,

built the Château de Ferrette.  It is not known if Frederic completely built the castle or simply restored a fortress

by building on the ruins of what was an observation tower built by the Romans.  In 1103, Frederic I inherited the

lands of upper Alsace, which later became the county of Ferrette. He died c1168.  His son, Louis, succeeded him

but died 1189 during a crusade he took part in.

Louis' son, Frederic II, inherited the castle.  He developed his possessions to the point of attracting the covetous

eye of the Bishop of Basel, with whom he had many conflicts.  Frederic was assassinated in 1233, officially by

his son, Louis, who was accused of patricide and excommunicated.  His other son, Ulrich, seized power.  Six

centuries later, a parchment was discovered containing Ulrich's consent to the assassination of his father.  This

patricide was not a success because in 1271, Ulrich was forced to sell the castle and the town of Ferrette to the

Bishop of Basel, thus becoming a vassal of the Bishop, as were his son Thiébaut and his grandson Ulrich III.

With the death of Ulrich III, in 1324, Jeanne de Ferrette inherited the County of Ferrette (Pfirt).  She married

the Archduke Albert II of Habsburg and thus integrated her county with Austria, which had it managed by

administrators appointed by the Emperors.  The castle was given as a bailiwick to the lords Reich von Reichenstein

in 1504, then to the Fuggers of Augsburg.  From 1540 to 1567, the castle was transformed into a garrison.

In 1600, the castle had three buildings: The “Oberschloss” or higher castle, comprising six rooms and eleven

bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom and cellars. This part of the castle had a well 60m deep and a chapel dedicated to the

virgin Saint Catherine.  The bailiff's house, which had four rooms, seven bedrooms, two kitchens, a stable to house

three horses, a cellar and even a bathroom.  It also had lofts to store 1000 sacks of grains.  A bastion with two

dungeons was designed to defend this building.  The House of the Knights had only one room and one bedroom

but with lofts able to contain 500 sacks of grains.  A wall with towers and bastions designed to be held in a

determined attack, surrounded the castle.

The castle was set on fire by the French in 1635, and was destroyed.  After the Thirty Years' War, only the lower

part was restored.  In 1644, at the Treaty of Munster in Westphalia, the Emperor of Austria yielded the county of

Ferrette to the King of France, Louis XIV, who gave it to his minister, Cardinal Mazarin, who offered it to his niece. 

Her husband took the titles of Duke de Mazarin and Count de Ferrette.  These titles were passed on to his heirs and

exist today in the person of the Princeof Monaco, who still carries the title of Count de Ferrette.  Thereafter, the

castle was sold to the Zuber family, rich textile manufacturers from the Mulhouse region.  Its ruins are maintained

with the financial aid of the town of Ferrette, of the départment of Haut-Rhin and the Services des Bâtiments de

France.  (Le Patrimoine des Communes du Haut-Rhin, Editions Flohic, 1998)

(FearofMusic Photo)

Château de Morimont Moersberg) is a castle ruin in the Alsace region of France, situated in the commune of 
Oberlarg in the Haut-Rhin département. It is 40 km south-west of Mulhouse and 45 km west of the Swiss city Basel.
The first documented mention of the castle is from 1271 when the count of Ferrettemade an oblation to the bishop
of Basel. It was occupied by, and takes its name from, the Morimont family, vassals of the Ferrettes and later the 
Habsburgs. A war with Basel and the Swiss led to the destruction of the castle some time between 1445 and 1468.
It was rebuilt by the Morimonts in the 15th and 16th centuries with seven artillery towers. In 1582 they sold it to
the counts of Ortenbourg Salamanque who kept it until the Thirty Years' War during which it was destroyed by
French troops in 1637. In 1641, Louis XIV gave it and the manor to the Vignacourts, who stayed until the French
Revolution. It subsequently belonged to Jean Bruat, Aaron Meyer and, from 1870, the Viellard family.

Built on a rocky east-west crest, the castle dominates the route between Oberlag and Levoncourt. It is built with

Jurassic limestone and lime mortar.  The northern building, measuring 51 by 7.5 m (~170 by 25 ft) has an

underground semi-circular vaulted cellar running the full length and the remains of two spiral staircases.  The

southern building consists of a polygonal staircase tower, as well as remains of pointed-arch vaulting and a fireplace. 

The tower in the north west corner has oven-shaped vaulting.  The southern artillery tower has three vaulted 

casemates.  Its cannon openings are set to fire horizontally, with one covering the entrance.  The north east tower,

built in 1515 has been restored and the present entrance to the cellar through the curtain wall is not original.

The oldest part of the present castle, a U-shaped tower in the southern corner, dates from the 13th or 14th century. 

This keep was built onto the bare rock and provided the first residential quarters.  The south west Schlossturm

Tower dates from the 15th century as do part of the west curtain wall and the south curtain wall.  In the north,

the great hall of 1552, on the probable site of the former lower courtyard, is flanked by two large artillery towers. 

The north east tower dated 1515 carries the arms of Hans Jacob de Morimont and his wife Margarete de Furtenberg. 

In the south, there was a second residence of which a staircase tower remains.  The castle entrance was defended

by a low casemated tower and a barbican.  In the middle of the west wall is a tower with wells.

The adaptation of the castle to artillery warfare was modern in conception but with little military value, the site

being dominated from three sides by high ground.  Its Renaissance form is particularly early for Alsace and is

explained by the Morimonts' close links to France.  The castle was used as a quarry until its restoration by Quiquerez

began in 1864.  A 1361 document refers to a lower castle ("Bas Morimont") and a higher castle ("Haut Morimont"). 

The former is located at the present Morimont farm to the west.  Very little remains; dated to perhaps the 12th or

13th century, it was destroyed by the 15th century at the latest and is not mentioned after 1423.  Château de

Morimont and the neighbouring smaller castle ruins have been listed as monuments historique since 1841.

 (Espirat Photo)

Château de Morimont, main gate and loop hole.

 (Espirat Photo)

Château de Morimont.

 (Espirat Photo)

Château de Morimont, artillery tower, northwest.

 (Espirat Photo)

Château de Morimont.

 (Andrew Warrington Photo)

Aerial view of Château de Morimont.

(Tharsice Demand Photo)

Château de Landskron (Burg Landskron) is situated in the southern part of Alsace, near the Swiss border in the

commune of Leymen.  The village of Leymen is located to the north of the ruin, Leymen, in the départment of

Haut-Rhin.   The castle was built before 1297.  It had a very important strategic position in that it allowed the

control of the Eastern Sundgau, the elbow of the Rhine and the city of Basel.  Several disputes concerning the

ownership were reported.

Château de Landskron was owned by the Habsburgs for a time.  In 1462, the castle was given to the Lord of the

Bailiwick of Lupfen, Sébastien de Reichenstein, who later enlarged and transformed the castle to adapt it to firearms

in 1516.  In 1648, by the Peace of Westphalia which ended the Thirty Years' War, the lands and lordships of the

Habsburgs in Alsace, including the Château de Landskron, passed into the hands of the King of France.  After

1665, Vauban was responsible for rebuilding the castle into a military garrison, while many other Alsatian castles

were abandoned and gradually destroyed.  In the 1690s, it was used as a state prison.  The few prisoners who were

imprisoned there until the French Revolution were predominantly political prisoners and the mentally ill.  Bernard

Duvergez, a courtier at the French court, was held there from 1769 until 1790 when he was discovered by

revolutionaries looking for political prisoners.  He died while waiting for them to find him a better place.  He is

the subject of a local novel, The Prisoner of Landskron

The castle survived the Revolution, whereas the houses of the wealthy in Leyman were burned.  The castle was

destroyed in 1813 by the Austrian and the Bavarian armies fighting Napolean Bonaparte.  From then on, it was a

ruin.  In the 1970s, the former owners installed a colony of monkeys into the ruins.  Since 1984, the castle has

belonged to the Association pour la Sauvegarde du Château de Landskron (Association for the Protection of

Landskron Castle), and it was partly restored in 1996. Further restoration work is planned.  One of the main

characteristics of the castle is its big rectangular tower or keep. The Château de Landskron has been classed as a 

monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1923.

 (Tharsice Demand Photo)
Château de Landskron.

Ground plan of
Château de Landskron.


Illustration of
Château de Landskron, c1756.
 (Gwen Berkson Photo)
Château de Landskron.

 (Florival Photo)

Château d'Engelbourg is a ruined castle above the town of Thann, Haut-Rhin, France.  During the destruction

of the castle, one of the tower rings remained intact, creating a feature known locally as the "L'Oeil de la Sorcèire"

(The Witch's Eye).  Following the Treaties of Westphalia which linked Alsace to France, the border was pushed

back from the Vosges to the Rhine and this castle lost its strategic interest. Louis XIV then ordered, in February

1673, the dismantling of the castle of Engelbourg. The work was entrusted to the intendant Mathias Poncet de la

Rivière, who had it carried out by miners from Giromagny. After several attempts, the big tower of the keep was

blown up. As it rose into the air, it broke into several parts, one of which fell and formed what has been dubbed

“the Eye of the Witch”.

The spectacular ruins were depicted on several romantic 19th century engravings. The remains of the castle have

been classified as historical monuments since 1898. Since 2006, each year young volunteers come to restore the

ruins of the castle through the association Études et Chantiers Grand Est. From 2006 to 2012, sections of walls

including a defensive formation built to stand against artillery, were uncovered and consolidated. A very detailed

survey was carried out on this occasion, leading to a 3D computer reconstruction of the site.

 (Gwen Berson Photo)

Château d'Engelbourg.

 (Thomas Bresson Photo)

Château d'Engelbourg.

 (Thomas Bresson Photo)

Château d'Engelbourg.