A visit to Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle in France takes you back to the 1100s and all the layers of history between then and now. The castle stands as a fortress in the hills of Alsace, near the border of Germany. It’s been occupied by the French and the Germans through the years, and was once destroyed by Swedish invaders. My first impression on arriving at the castle is that each succeeding conqueror built higher and higher, reinforcing the brick and tile structure to withstand the inevitable next invasion.
In the main courtyard, look up and ponder the various architectural styles that make up Haut-Koenigsbourg. After its destruction in the Thirty Years War in 1633, the castle sat in ruins for about 200 years. Then Kaiser Wilhem II of Germany undertook restoration in the style of the times, to honor his family, the house of Hohenzollern. Unfortunately for the Kaiser, World War I resulted in Germany’s defeat, and Alsace reverted to French control in 1919. Haut-Koenigsbourg was declared a National Palace and it’s been meticulously restored to its Medieval style. A sign notes that excavations produced 2.5 tons of articles such as roof tiles, crossbows, cooking pots, doors, chests, windows, clothing decorations, pieces of glass, and cut stones. These were all used to inform the latest reconstruction.
A 1937 movie, The Grand Illusion, was filmed here. You can learn more about the movie at this audio tour stop. And be sure to enjoy the view here, too!
How to get to Haut-Koenigsburg: The castle is in the hills above the train line that runs from Strasbourg to Colmar in Alsace, France. Get off at the Selestat Station. A shuttle bus runs from the station up to the castle and back for a cost of about 4 Euros. Be prepared to pay this in cash, as the bus driver doesn’t take credit cards.
Ticket Price: 9 Euro for adults; audio is 4.5 Euro (and well worth it)
Eating at the castle: A remarkably tasty lunch is available at the Chateau de Haut-Koenigsbourg at the bottom of the castle hill. Snacks and drinks are served at a deli with outside seating. Relax here and enjoy the view before taking the shuttle back to the train station.
More information: Visit the castle website for more about the history and your visit.