Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg sits up on its mountains at an altitude of 800 meters like a King overlooking his kingdom. What a kingdom he had to gaze upon, the Alsace Region of France is ripe with grapes, fruits and all types of produce growing everywhere on the upper Rhine plain. Picture perfect towns such as Strasbourg, Colmar and Riquewihr. are some of the best places to visit in Alsace. Amazing towns seem to be around every corner. It is like being in a fairytale, there is just so much beauty.
Visite Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg
The King who had the pleasure of living in Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg had a 270-degree view over all his lands and can see any challengers coming from miles away. The view from Haut Koenigsbourg castle reaches as far as the Black Forest in Baden Wattenberg Germany. These days all that is surveyed is the mass of tourists streaming up the roads of the Vosges Mountains that lead to Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg. Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg through the centuries has fallen under the banner of the Habsburgs and Wilhelm II who was the last of the German Emperors.
The history of Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg:
The Buntsandstein Rock where Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg sits today was first mentioned in history in 774 in a deed issued by the Frankish King Charlemagne. It was initially the site of a monastery. The exact date of the first ever castle built here remains unknown for sure; a Burg Staufen was documented in the history books in 1147. The name Koenigsbourg was first mentioned in 1192 (The King’s Castle) in reference to the family who owned it.
In 1462, the Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg was set ablaze by unified forces of cities of Colmar, Strasbourg and Basel. The Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg had been used by robber barons as a hideout and their behaviour had become too much for the neighbouring powers.
The Chateau de Koenigsbourg fell under the banner of the Hapsburg Emperor Frederick III in 1479. In 1663 during the thirty years war, the Imperial castle was besieged by Swedish Protestant troops. The troops held out in Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg for 52 days waging war before being forced out, but not before Koenigsbourg castle was looted and burned by them on their retreat from the mountain.
Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg remained in ruins for several hundred years after the war. No one bothered to rebuild it as it slowly slipped away from view behind the encroaching forest that paid no respect to its Royal past or place in history.
In 1865, the ruins of Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg were purchased by the local town of Selestat. In 1870 the region of Alsace was incorporated into the German Imperial territory. The citizens of Selestat bequeathed the Chateau de Koenigsbourg to the German Emperor Wilhelm II in 1889.
In 1900, Wilhelm started a rebuild of Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg to as near as possible to the original. Emperor Wilhelm hoped this would lead to a bond between the Alsatians and the Germans as they had only recently been made a part of the German Empire. In May of 1908, Chateau de Haut Koenigsbourg was opened by Emperor Wilhelm II.
After WW1, the French confiscated the Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg under terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg was originally shunned by the French because of its links to the Germans and its apparent fairytale features.
Haut Koenigsbourg Castle today:
We made the trip to Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg from Freiburg in Germany by a car after arriving in Alsace via Strasbourg. The drive took a little over an hour to reach. The road leading to the Haut Koenigsbourg castle passes through a forest and then begins a series of sharp hairpin turns as you climb upwards. The road is very windy as our daughter Willow can attest to, car sickness got the better of her as she vomited in the hire car.
Parking at Chateau de Haut Koenigsbourg is quite limited as there is no specific car park. You just park on the side of the road leading up Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg, so an uphill walk of some distance can be in store for you to reach the entrance of Koenigsbourg castle. When you reach Haut Koenigsbourg castle you will be struck by the size of the place. It is not a fairytale castle like the French portrayed it to be. It is not Disney for sure but more Game of Thrones Casterly Rock type castle
We opted to for a self-guided tour of Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg with an audio guide so we could explore at our own pace. Haut Koenigsbourg castle has 3 levels to explore on your self-guided tour. You enter through the outer gate taking a narrow path up to the Keep where you will find the living quarters, an inn, and the fountain courtyard.
These features all sit in the shadow of Koenigsbourg castle’s towering defensive walls which cover 270 meters in length. It is like a castle inside a castle so that any invaders would be flanked on both sides if entering the castle grounds and could be dealt with accordingly as they moved towards the main entrance. You must climb the stairs and cross the drawbridge to enter the main section of Haut Koenigsbourg castle.
The first floor contains many of the living quarters that the Royalty of the time lived in. The furniture on display is ornate and typical of the medieval period. Some of the rooms in this section were amazing with the elaborate wall paintings of the Royalty who lived at Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg, and weapons on display. The full armoury that is linked to Haut Koenigsbourg castle’s past is also on display in this section of the Chateau.
Our daughter Willow loves armouries for some reason. In all castles we visit, Willow always wants to go to the armoury. Maybe our little read head is channelling her inner Merida (Disney character from the movie Brave). Marley, on the other hand, enjoyed sticking her head out through the attacking holes that lie in the fortified walls. Castles seem to evoke a spirit of adventure and exploration in our kids especially Marley as she rushed from room to room. Rebecca thinks the kids give us the look when we are at castles as if to say “why don’t we live here” and “when are we moving in”.
The second floor contains the bedchambers of the Royalty that lived here at Chateau de Haut Koenigsbourg. The Empress and Kaiser’s bedchambers are the feature of this floor. The rooms are very regal with many features that suit the Royalty of the time albeit for toilets which in those times were situated hanging out over the walls for the great drop!
Take your time to stroll the Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg and take in some of the views…they are amazing! We took 2 plus hours to wander Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg but much longer could be spent without time restrictions. Haut Koenigsbourg castle has a restaurant, souvenir shop and toilets on site
I recommend that you grab a drink or a bite to eat outside the castle at the café on the road that has amazing views of the valley and small village’s that live in the shadow of Koenigsbourg Castle. Alsace is an amazing region with many things not to miss.
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We hope you enjoyed reading about our trip to Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg as much as we loved being there. Here are two more posts from us here at Wyld Family Travel that we hope you enjoy!
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