Visiting Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg in France

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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.

A beautiful picture of Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg from above
This photo appears courtesy of the Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg’s facebook page

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 the 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.

defensive walls at Haut Koenigsbourg Alsace France
doorway at Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg

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.

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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.

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.

Interior roof at Chateau Koenigsbourg
armoury at Koenigsbourg Alsace
Inside Koenigsbourg Chateau

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 features 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!

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.

Haut Koenigsbourg from above

What facilities does Koenigsbourg Castle have on-site?

Haut Koenigsbourg Castle has a restaurant, souvenir shop and toilets on site.

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How much does it cost for entry to Haut Koenigsbourg

Entry to Koenigsbourg is a great way to spend a few hours in the Alsace region. With the position of the castle, you can spend extra time in the area taking in the views and having a drink at the café.

IndividualsPer Person
Full rate adults9,00 €
Full rate 6 -17 years old5,00 €
Reduced rate adults7,00 €
Reduced rate 6 -17 years 4,00 €
Reduced rate handicapped visitors 4,00 €
Young people aged under 6Free
2020 Prices

A self-guided tour of Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg

We opted 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 languages for all. You are best to check the website for details or alternatively take one of the organized tours from Colmar and Strasbourg.

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When is the best time to visit Chateau Koenigsbourg?

If you are visiting the Alsace region of France there really is no perfect season to visit. The Alsace region of France is beautiful in any season but below we have some ideas on visiting Koenigsbourg in summer and winter.

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

winter at Chateau haut Koenigsbourg

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 a 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.

Visiting Chateau Haut Koeningsbourg by car

The drive took a little over an hour to reach. Haut Koenigsbourg is best accessed 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.

If coming from Switzerland the best way is to travel from Basel to Colmar and onto the Chateau. If coming from Germany, you can go from Freiburg towards Colmar and onto the Chateau.

Colmar to Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg

The distance from Colmar to Koenigsbourg is 29.9 kilometers 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’s driving time via the A35 towards Colmar. Take the exit towards Kintzheim and follow the signs to Haut Koenigsbourg.

map of Koenigsbourg location

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.

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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 about the attraction. It may include some steps along the way 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.


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 villages 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. We know this article from us here at Wyld Family Travel will have you inspired to visit Chateau Koenigsbourg when you are staying in the Alsace region. For more amazing ideas on where to holiday in France, click our France Destination Guide page for more brilliant inspiration.

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11 thoughts on “Visiting Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg in France”

  1. Great post, Mark! Poor Willow, though – I know how she feels. The hairpins in the Alps are not very kind either.

  2. What a fascinating history Koenigsbourg has! When I was young I always wondered why we didn’t live in a castle either.

  3. Such an interesting place! I haven’t been outside of Paris during my many visits to France. This sounds like the kind of place I would love to venture out to. Love the history you have included.

  4. The journey there sounds like a great motorcycle trip. I’d love the turns through the forest and parking would be easier with a bike. I love visiting castles, especially ones with such an expansive view.

  5. Wow! I love castles but sad to say, there’s not much here in the US. If there’s one, I haven’t heard of it. Anyway, I would def visit this place. And I like how you guys do self guided tours bec I also like exploring at my own pace. Sometimes, the tours try to hurry you up that you don’t get to enjoy the place.

  6. Such a beautiful castle hard to believe it once was in ruins. Sometimes a self guided tour is so much better at your own pace and not rushed in a group.

  7. The castle does have a fairy tale kind of a halo. Its history is quite interesting and it is an excellent example of medieval style and culture.

  8. LOVING the history behind this castle! And those views! Wow! 🙂

  9. What an interesting history! And the castle looks absolutely stunning!

  10. I hate that people always feel the need to burn down so important historical buildings. I’m glad that efforts were made to restore it though. And those views are amazing!


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