Orschwiller, France

The Haut Koenigsbourg castle in Orschwiller in Alsace was built in the 12th century. Sitting 757 meters above the Alsace plain, the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle has all the necessary assets for a fortress and is well worth a visit. Its strategic position, quite easy to defend in former times, now provides visitors with an exceptional panoramic view over the Alsace plain, the Vosges Mountains, the Black Forest, and on a clear day, even the Alps. The castle has been a constant witness to both European conflicts and rivalry between lords, kings, and emperors. A number of illustrious owners each left their mark on the castle’s history, and successive events even led to changes in the castle’s structure.

Much of the castle was burned down during a siege during the 30-years war, and the castle lay in ruins for about 250 years. But in the early 1900s, the German emperor Wilhelm II decided to restore the castle as symbol of the resurrection of his empire. Based on extensive analyses of the wall structures, excavations, and photo archives, the structure of the castle was wonderfully restored and gives an accurate idea of what a mountain fortress looked like in the Middle Ages. Its interior walls are decorated in a rich medieval style, and it houses an exceptional collection of weapons and furniture, mainly from the 16th and 17th centuries. You can visit the towers and dungeons, bedrooms, and grand rooms. Climb to the top of the grand bastion, a medieval defensive building flanked by two towers, and see an impressive collection of suits and armors. It is a very interesting and educational family visit in Alsace (about 45 min drive from Basel).

Audio tours of the castle are available in multiple languages including English, where you can learn more about the castle or obtain more in-depth information. Individual guided tours in English are also available daily (at 14:15) during the summer months.

The castle is open year-round. Opening hours are 9:30-17:45 in March and October; 9:15-18:00 in April, May, and September; 9:15-18:45 in June, July, and August; and 9:30-12:00 and 13:15-16:15 from November through February; on Mondays, the castle only opens at 10:30.Tickets are € 12 for adults, € 8 for kids ages 6-17, and € 30 for families (max. four persons, including up to two adults).

From Basel, you can reach the Haut-Koenigsbourg in about 45 minutes. Take the A35 highway towards Strassbourg, exit Kintzheim or Saint-Hippolyte and follow the signs to Château du Haut-Königsbourg. By public transport, you can take the train to Sélestat (SNCF railway), followed by a shuttle bus to the castle.