Château de Fleckenstein was built on a sandstone summit in the Middle Ages. The first record of the castle dates from 1165. It is named after the Fleckenstein family, owners until 1720 when it passed to the Vitzthum d'Egersberg family. In 1807, it passed to J-L Apffel and in 1812 to General Harty, baron of Pierrebourg. 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 shows 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 castle, is accessible by road or via hiking trails.References:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.