Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg

Orschwiller, France

The Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg is 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 first records of a castle built by the Hohenstaufens date back to 1147. The fortress changed its name to Koenigsburg (royal castle) around 1157. The castle was handed over to the Tiersteins by the Habsburgs following its destruction in 1462. They rebuilt and enlarged it, installing a defensive system designed to withstand artillery fire.

The fortification work accomplished over the 15th century did not suffice to keep the Swedish artillery at bay during the Thirty Years War, and the defences were overrun. Besieged, pillaged then finally burnt to the ground in 1633, the castle was left abandoned for two hundred years.

The ruins were classified as a historical monument in 1862. A restoration project was decided on, starting with the consolidation of part of the ruins. The Alsace region was annexed to Germany in 1871, and Sélestat offered the still majestic ruins of the castle to Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1899. In 1919 Haut-Koenigsbourg becomes the property of the French government and is awarded the status of National Palace.

For many years it was considered fashionable in France to sneer at the castle because of its links to the German emperor. Many considered it to be nothing more than a fairy tale castle similar to Neuschwanstein. However, in recent years many historians have established that, although it is not a completely accurate reconstruction, it is at least interesting for what it shows about Wilhelm II's romantic nationalist ideas of the past and the architect's work. Indeed, Bodo Ebhardt restored the castle following a close study of the remaining walls, archives and other fortified castles built at the same period.



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Founded: 12th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Lena Misify (3 months ago)
A wonderful castle! It's a complete renovation done in the early 1900's so it's not a completely classic medieval castle. However it's definitely one of the most spectacular castles I have visited. A lot of information was provided around the castle in French, German and English and there was also an audio tour available (didn't do this myself) The views are spectacular and I advise to visit it when the weather is good. A very cool display of weapons and canons was also there, this was definitely awesome. There is a tiny café in the castle and also outside. Parking was available but a bit crowded and busy, unsure about the accessibility of it all.
Alexander K (4 months ago)
A wonderful monument you must visit during your stay in Alsace! It is one of the most complex castles ever rebuilt in the area and has the best panoramic views on the region below. The castle offers tours (included in your entry ticket) and we had a great time with our tour guide Jacques K. Very interesting person with so many interesting facts to talk about the castle!
Yu Kho (4 months ago)
A beautiful and interesting place to visit for both children and adults. Fantastic views to enjoy. There are a library and a restaurant available. Car park is free of charge, many car parking spaces available along the road but can be challenging to find a slot during the busy times. We loved the place. Thank you!
Katie Sutton (5 months ago)
Very cool castle but VERY crowded. Don’t be afraid to drive closer to the front to find parking. Everyone followed each other and parked way down the mountain but if you drive up closer to the entrance you’ll likely find a bunch of empty spots and won’t have to walk as far. Lots of history to read as you walk through. Beautiful views.
Mor Shalev (6 months ago)
A beautiful castle, allows access with the car and you can enter it's yard for free, but of you want to go up the castle, you'd have to get a ticket and go up 300 stairs. We skipped the stairs as we were with a baby, but we didn't regret it - the view is breathtaking and the castle itself leaves you in awe. I was surprised we could access all the way into the castle with our baby stroller, we don't really feel comfortable with the baby carrier, so if you're looking for a castle that's easily accessible, this is a great place to visit. Also, there's a small café and gift shop before going up the castle and they have a great coffee with whipped cream on top. We highly recommend this one!
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