Castle lovers, I have just the thing for you! The castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg is one of the must-see places in Alsace. It is a mountain fortress, located at an altitude of 757 meters. It offers an incredible view of the surroundings and on a clear day, it is not unusual to see the Alps.
Which castle to visit in Alsace?
We are lucky to have many castles to visit in Alsace, but if you have to visit only one, it must be without fail the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle! It is the most impressive one.
Where is the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle located?
The castle is located on the heights of Orschwiller, a village on the Alsace Wine Route located just outside of Selestat in the Bas-Rhin. We are 26 km north of Colmar and 55 km south of Strasbourg.
If you go to the castle, don’t hesitate to visit Sélestat, to visit a winegrower or to visit the Monkey Mountain (10 minutes by car or by shuttle) and the Eagles’ Volerie (15 minutes away). It would be a shame to miss out!
What is the particularity of the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle?
In addition to its altitude, its panorama and its distinctive pink Vosges sandstone color, the great feature of the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle is its excellent condition. It dates from the 12th century, but was entirely restored in the 20th century: it is the only one in Alsace which is like this and it is moreover classified with the historical monuments. It’s worth a visit, isn’t it?
How long will the tour take?
Count about 2 hours for the duration of the visit of the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle: there are really a lot of things to see and the castle is big!
History of the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle
Construction in the 12th century
Built in the 12th century on a rocky spur, making it an ideal observatory and strategic retreat, the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle (whose name means “king’s castle”) has seen a succession of conflicts, rivalries and owners (including the Habsburgs) over the centuries. After a long siege, a pillage and a fire, the fortress was abandoned in 1633 for more than two centuries, the vegetation gradually taking over the ruins.
A unique restoration
Following the victory of the Kingdom of Prussia against France in the 1870 war, Alsace became German. The Haut-Koenigsbourg was then offered in 1899 toEmperor William II of Hohenzollern by the city of Sélestat, which then embarked on a huge restoration project thanks to the architect Bodo Ebhardt, a specialist in medieval architecture, thus concretizing his ideas of Germanization of Alsace. This work will last eight years. Ten years later, it was France that became the owner of the castle at the end of the First World War (Treaty of Versailles), Alsace then becoming French again.
Thanks to this unique restoration (despite the controversies) and the work of rehabilitation in the 20th century, the visit of the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle today offers a remarkable insight into the architecture, history and life of the Middle Ages and is a unique witness to two intertwined periods of history.
A film location
This rich heritage, this magnificent setting and this particular architecture have made the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle one of the most visited sites in Alsace, but also to have inspired many artists and filmmakers over the years, such as Jean Renoir, Jean-Paul Carrère or even Dionysos and Hayao Miyzaki.
What to do at Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle?
Good news, a 1 hour guided tour is included in the entrance fee
Exterior of the castle
From the outside, the castle already impresses with its fortified ramparts, towers and star bastion. As soon as you pass the high gate, the visit of the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle plunges you into another universe, into another time, into the Middle Ages. Even if the restoration does not date at all from this period, since it dates from the 20th century, it is important to remember that this is what William II wanted for the castle: that it be both a museum presenting what a medieval castle was likeand at the same time a place where he can show the extent of its power and prestige.
In the heart of the castle’s enclosure, you will first discover a fountain, the stables, a mill, a forge and an inn in the lower inner courtyard, then you will move on to the dwellings and the dungeon by way of the drawbridge and various courtyards.
Inside the castle
Inside the towers and living quarters, some rooms are furnished with medieval furniture, others with more modern furniture from the time of the Kaiser. Rooms decorated with wood panelling, wooden galleries, the festival hall, the trophy room, the weapons room where some artillery pieces are displayed, the empress’s bedroom, the imperial kitchens (only accessible during unusual visits), the Kaiser’s room, with its 20th century frescoes and its painting of the imperial eagle on the ceiling… from one room to the other, you will be transported in a few steps in the Daily life in the castle during the Middle Ages and the beginning of the 20th century. It is the story that is told through the furniture, paintings, decorations and other marks of time.
From the two towers of the great bastion, you can discover the famous view of the Alsace Plain, the Vosges and the Black Forest (and even the Alps on a clear day!). Outside, you can visit the artillery terrace and the medieval garden of the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle, a real breath of fresh air which reconstitutes the style of medieval gardens and testifies once again to the history, over the seasons: there was food, medicine, dyeing of clothes and of course the “garden of pleasures”, inviting to walk, rest and courtly moments. People danced and had fun, admired the flowers and talked.
Opinion on the visit of the castle
I really enjoyed the visit, which I have already done several times: you come out with a good idea of what a castle was like in the 15th century (the glorious period of the castle and which was used as a basis for the reconstruction, except for some places…). Just remember to wrap up warm, it’s very cold in this big building!
Guided tours and animations
Guided tours for groups of 1 hour are included in the entrance fee.
The castle also offers all year round other varied visits and animations for young and old. For children, there are fun tours and thematic workshops. For example, around medieval construction, food, daily life in the Middle Ages, stained glass… It’s very nice!
You can consult the calendar of visits here.
- Walking around this majestic castle
- The superb view of the Alsace plain, the Vosges mountains and the Black Forest
- The free guided tour
- Partner of the Pass Alsace
I liked a little less
- The chill in the castle, despite the nice weather outside. Remember to dress warmly!
My photos of the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle
You will find here the rates of the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle. You can directly buy your tickets by clicking here.
For Pass Alsace holders, the entrance is free!
The castle is open all year round except on January 1st, May 1st and December 25th. You will find here the opening hours of the Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg.
By car: where to park?
The address is as follows: Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg, 67600 Orschwiller. The castle is located in :
- 27km from Colmar (about 35 minutes)
- 64km from Strasbourg (about 55 minutes)
- 70km from Mulhouse (about 1h)
There is a parking lot along the road leading to the castle. Depending on how busy it is, you can park more or less close to the castle and then just walk to it.
By public transport: Haut-Koenigsbourg shuttle
Line 500 of the 67 network “Navette du Haut Koenigsbourg” serves the castle in 30 minutes from the Sélestat station. Attention, it does not circulate every day. I invite you to consult the operating days and schedules of the 500 line.
To calculate your itinerary from your starting point, the Fluo website is very well done!
The Haut-Koenigsbourg castle offers small restaurants, inside and on the terrace (the terrace is near the parking, but has a nice view). Nothing extraordinary, but it is correct. There is also a picnic area (covered, but not heated!) available.