King’s Fairy Tale Castle along Alsace Wine Road
One of the most popular tourist sites in the Alsace Region near Strasbourg, France the Chateau Haut-Koenigsburg (High King’s Castle) was first built in the 12th Century on a strategic hill in the Vosges mountains just west of Sélestat with a spectacular view of the Alsace valley. The view reaches all the way to the Rhine River which now separates France from Germany, cutting between the German Black Forest (See Black Forest - Ham and Cuckoo Clocks) and eastern France. This was not always so. In the ever shifting boundaries of historic Europe, Castle Haut Koenigsbourg (Hoch Königsburg) was formerly a possession of Germany under the Hohenzollerns (see Hohenzollern Castle) and the German Empire. The original castle was attacked and burned in 1462, rebuilt and abandoned again after the Thirty Years War (see Kaiserslautern Genealogy Museum). It remained empty and overgrown by the forest for a few hundred years, like Sleeping Beauty’s castle, becoming the inspiration of romantic poets and artists.
The castle of Haut Koenigsbourg came into the hands of the German Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1899, who had it restored to its present form, reopened in 1908 as a romanticized though not entirely inaccurate recreation of it’s 15th Century structure. He didn't have long to enjoy it as the castle and indeed Alsace became part of France again following WWI (see Maginot Line). The French first derided the castle as a symbol of German rule, but have since embraced it as a fairy tale castle destination along the Alsace Wine Road (see Route du Vin Alsace). Like its cousin, the German Wine Road through the hills and valleys of Baden-Weurttemburg and Rhineland (see Bad Durkheim), the Alsacian wine trail leads from Strasbourg (see also Strasbourg Cathedral) to the Swiss border.
Also at Haut Konigsbourg you'll find an old wooden staircase that was used in Jean Renoir's masterpiece film "Grand Illusion". A short walk along the trail into the woods at the top of the mountain you'll find the ruins to an older castle, with a curious use of large boulders in the walls, in place of the smaller stonework. The builders of Haut Koenigsbourg decided that the site of the old castle wasn't suitable for the big plan of the restoration.
Visiting Chateau Haut Konigsbourg
The castle is open all year and offers regular guided tours in French. Regular tours in English are offered from June to September at 11:45. A self audio guide tour lasting about an hour is available from the ticket deak year round. Admission price is €8 for adults, youth under 18 are free. The castle of Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg is located near Selestat just above Kintzheim (see Alsace Wine Road Auberge), halfway between Strasbourg and Mulhouse and can be reached by car about 25 minutes south of Strasbourg off the A35, or about 40 minutes from Baden-Baden on the German side of the Rhine River on N59 from Freiburg and 45 minutes from the EuroAirport (see Hotel Cour du Roy Saint-Louis). It's a very popular spot and parking can get crowded. You can try to park near the top for a short walk or about half-way up is a trail than isn't too bad a climb. © Bargain Travel Europe
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