Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg sits upon its mountain 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.
The history of 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 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. 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.
Haut Koenigsbourg Castle today
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.
Visit Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg
There are many ways to make the day trip to the Alsace region of France to enjoy this gorgeous castle and the surrounding areas. Here we will give you some of the best ways to visit Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg
Catch the Haut-Koenigsbourg Shuttle
The minimize the impact on the environment around the Chateau you can catch a shuttle bus. The shuttle bus runs daily from Selestat Train Station to the top of the mountain near the entrance. The bus also takes in other nearby attractions “Monkey Mountain”, the “Volerie des Aigles – Eagle Park”, Kintzheim centre and Cigoland. Tickets are 2.50 euro and under 4’s free.
Visiting Chateau Haut Koeningsbourg by car
The drive took a little over an hour to reach. Haut Koenigsbourg is best accesses by roads leading from the towns of Kintzhein, Bergheim and Saint Hippolyte. 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.
Colmar to Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg
The distance from Colmar to Koenigsbourg is 29.9kilometers and will take you a little over 30 minutes via the N83 towards Saint Hippolyte. Directions to the chateau are signposted from there.
Strasbourg to Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg
The distance from Strasbourg to Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg is 62 kilometres and will take you a little under an hour driving time via the A35 towards Colmar. Take the exit towards Kintzheim and following the signs to Haut Koenigsbourg.
Car parking at Koenigsbourg
Parking at Chateau de Haut Koenigsbourg is quite limited as there is no specific car park close to the entrance. You just park on the side of the road on either side of the Chateau leading up to the entrance. A dedicated overflow car park is located some way down the hill so an uphill walk of some 900 meters 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
A self-guided tour of Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg
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.
A guided tour of Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg
The chateau provides guided tours daily in different lamguages for all. You are best to check the webiste for details or alternativbly take one of the organized tours from Colmar and Strasbourg.
Day trips to Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg from Colmar and Strasbourg
A guided tour may be your way to visit the Chateau. Guided tours typically include a trip to the chateau by bus including entries and guides to tell you all about the attraction. It may include some steps along the away at other Alsace attractions
Day trip to the Alsace region from Colmar or Strasbourg
If you want to see more of the Alsace region that surrounds the Chateau then a full day trip to the Alsace region may be for you. There are many that incorporate the chateau. Below are some of the best ways to see the Alsace region in a guided full-day tour.,
Inside Haut Koenigsbourg
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.
The second floor contains the bed chambers of the Royalty that lived here at Chateau de Haut Koenigsbourg. The Empress and Kaiser’s bed chambers 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!
Visiting Haut Koenigsbourg castle in summer
Sitting high up on the mountain you can find some summer days to be hot and sticky but if you pick the right day you will be blessed with a gorgeous un-obscured view for miles. There are a few places to sit and take in the views from the Chateau and have a nice cold drink before you leave.
Visiting Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg in winter
Haut Koenigsbourg looks truly special in the winter when it snows. If you’re lucky enough to visit on a day with snow on the ground the Chateau takes on truly special demeanour. A visit in winter means fewer crowds and more parking spaces. Please check the website for reduced admission hours in the colder months.
How long do I need to visit Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg?
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.
What facilities does Koenigsbourg Castle have on-site?
Haut Koenigsbourg castle has a restaurant, souvenir shop and toilets on site.
How much does it cost for entry to Haut Koenigsbourg
|Full rate adults||9,00 €|
|Full rate 6 -17 years old||5,00 €|
|Reduced rate adults||7,00 €|
|Reduced rate 6 -17 years||4,00 €|
|Reduced rate handicapped visitors||4,00 €|
|Young people aged under 6||Free|
What else do we recommend?
We really recommend that you grab a drink or a bite to eat outside the castle at the café on the road. You can take in the 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.
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!
About the Author
Mark Wyld is a father, husband, traveler, and chief destination marketing manager at Wyld Family Travel. Having been to over 35 countries worldwide he knows a thing or 2 about traveling with kids and now traveling with teenagers. He has been writing first-hand, expert travel guides on this website for over 6 years and has featured on numerous other popular well-known websites. When he is not talking, dreaming, or planning travel he can be found working in disability support.