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Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

chateau du haut-koenigsbourg, château du haut-kœnigsbourg drone
The Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg French pronunciation: ​ʃato dy otkœniɡsbuʁ; German: Hohkönigsburg is a medieval castle located in the commune of Orschwiller in the Bas-Rhin département of France,1 in the Vosges mountains just west of Sélestat It is situated in a strategic location on a rocky spur overlooking the Upper Rhine Plain; as a result 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 emperor Wilhelm II Today it is a major tourist site, attracting more than 500,000 visitors a year


  • 1 History
    • 11 Middle Ages
    • 12 Reconstruction
  • 2 The castle today
  • 3 Copy in Malaysia
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links


The Buntsandstein rock was first mentioned as Stophanberch Staufenberg in a 774 deed issued by the Frankish king Charlemagne Again certified in 854, it was then a possession of the French Basilica of St Denis and the site of a monastery

Middle Agesedit

Castle ruins, 1851

It is not known when a first castle was built However, a Burg Staufen Castrum Estufin is documented in 1147, when the monks complained to King Louis VII of France about its unlawful construction by the Hohenstaufen Duke Frederick II of Swabia Frederick's younger brother Conrad III had been elected King of the Romans in 1138, to be succeeded by Frederick's son Frederick Barbarossa in 1152, and by 1192 the castle was called Kinzburg Königsburg, "King's Castle"

In the early thirteenth century, the fortification passed from the Hohenstaufen family to the dukes of Lorraine, who entrusted it to the local Rathsamhausen knightly family and the Lords of Hohenstein, who held the castle until the fifteenth century As the Hohensteins allowed some robber barons to use the castle as a hideout, and their behaviour began to exasperate the neighbouring rulers, in 1454 it was occupied by Elector Palatine Frederick I and in 1462 was set ablaze by the unified forces of the cities of Colmar, Strasbourg, and Basel

In 1479, the Habsburg emperor Frederick III granted the castle ruins in fief to the Counts of Thierstein, who rebuilt them with a defensive system suited to the new artillery of the time When in 1517 the last Thierstein died, the castle became a reverted fief and again came into the possession of the Habsburg emperor of the day, Maximilian I In 1633, during the Thirty Years' War in which Catholics forces fought Protestants, the Imperial castle was besieged by Protestant Swedish forces After a 52-day siege, the castle was burned and looted by the Swedish troops For several hundred years it was left unused, and the ruins became overgrown by the forest Various romantic poets and artists were inspired by the castle during this time



The ruins had been listed as a monument historique of the Second French Empire since 1862 and were purchased by the township of Sélestat or Schlettstadt three years later After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 to 1871 the region was incorporated into the German Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine, and in 1899 the citizens granted what was left of the castle to the German emperor Wilhelm II Wilhelm wished to create a castle lauding the qualities of Alsace in the Middle Ages and more generally of German civilization stretching from Hohkönigsburg in the west to likewise restored Marienburg Castle in the east He also hoped the restoration would reinforce the bond of Alsatians with Germany, as they had only recently been incorporated into the newly established German Empire The management of the restoration of the fortifications was entrusted to the architect Bodo Ebhardt, a proven expert on the reconstruction of medieval castles Work proceeded from 1900 to 1908 On May 13, 1908, the restored Hohkönigsburg was inaugurated in the presence of the Emperor In an elaborate re-enactment ceremony, a historic cortege entered the castle, under a torrential downpour

Ebhart's aim was to rebuild it, as near as possible, as it was on the eve of the Thirty Years' War He relied heavily on historical accounts but, occasionally lacking information, he had to improvise some parts of the stronghold For example, the Keep tower is now reckoned to be about 14 metres too tall Wilhelm II, who regularly visited the construction site via a specially built train station in nearby Saint-Hippolyte, also encouraged certain modifications that emphasised a Romantic nostalgia for Germanic civilization For example, the main dining hall has a higher roof than it did at the time, and links between the Hohenzollern family and the Habsburg rulers of the Holy Roman Empire are emphasized The Emperor wanted to legitimise the House of Hohenzollern at the head of the Second Empire, and to assure himself as worthy heir of the Hohenstaufens and the Habsburgs

The castle todayedit

Main gate with armorial of Wilhelm II

After World War I, the French state confiscated the castle in accordance with the 1919 Treaty of Versailles

It has been listed since 1862 and classified since 1993 as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture In 2007, ownership was transferred to the Bas-Rhin département1 Today, it is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the region

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

Parts of the 1937 film La Grande Illusion by Jean Renoir were shot at Haut-Kœnigsbourg

Copy in Malaysiaedit

A copy of the castle has been built in the Berjaya Hills, 60 km north-east of Kuala Lumpur 3°24′15″N 101°50′21″E / 3404167°N 101839155°E / 3404167; 1018391552 A copy of the historical city of Colmar is located next to it

See alsoedit

  • List of castles in France


  • Monique Fuchs and Bernhard Metz, The Castle of Haut Koenigsbourg, éd du Patrimoine, Paris, 2001
  1. ^ a b Ministry of Culture: Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg ou Hohenkoenigsbourg in French
    - Ministry of Culture: Château fort dit Château fort de Haut Koenigsbourg in French
  2. ^ "China hat jetzt ein Schlosshotel Neuschwanstein" Die Welt in German September 26, 2014 Retrieved February 22, 2017 

External linksedit

  •  Chisholm, Hugh, ed 1911 "Schlettstadt" Encyclopædia Britannica 24 11th ed Cambridge University Press p 340 
  • in French in English Official website
  • in English Castle history and access
  • in French Ministry of Culture listing for Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg 1
  • in French Ministry of Culture listing for Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg 2
  • Ministry of Culture photos 1
  • Ministry of Culture photos 2
  • Photos of the castle on Google Images
  • Location of the castle on Google Maps
  • The castle has a Facebook page

Coordinates: 48°14′58″N 7°20′39″E / 4824944°N 734417°E / 4824944; 734417

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