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Published: October 20th 2017
With 6 days to explore Alsace, and only a couple of definites on my list of things to do, I found myself with a bit of indecision this morning. Combined with general laziness, I didn’t get going today until after midday. In the end, I decided to drive a bit of the Routes des Vins (Road of Wine) and visit the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg which overlooks many of the vineyards.
My first stop was a village near my hotel, Dambach-la-Ville, to get some petrol. It was only the first time I had filled up the car since the first day on the way to Würzburg. So I’m pretty happy with the fuel economy of the C4! Filling up wasn’t as easy as it could have been because the petrol station was pay-at-the-pump which was in French. But I think I got it right, unless the police arrest me for driving off without paying!
I then meandered down the Routes des Vins, stopping a few times to take photos of the many vineyards along the way. Unfortunately, part of the way was closed so I had to take a detour, but it wasn’t a big one. After reaching Kintzheim, I
turned up the road heading into the hills towards Haut-Koenigsbourg. The drive up to the castle was absolutely stunning, but not conducive to stopping and taking photos. The autumn trees lined the road as it wound its way up the hill and I enjoyed the drive almost as much as the view from the top.
Fortunately, there were not too many people visiting the castle so I was able to park reasonably close to the entrance. I nailed my first parallel park on this trip (I know it shouldn’t be different parking on one side or the other, but I was still pleased with myself) and after a short walk I was up at the castle. I thought the views from the entrance were good, but they turned out to be even better from within the castle.
I headed in and walked around the designated tour route. Normally I don’t like being told where to go, but in places like this it makes it easier to make sure you haven’t missed something. The tour starts off in the main keep, and started with a couple of displays about the history of the castle and the restoration. It has
quite a history.
First built in the middle ages, Haut-Koenigsbourg was occupied for a time in the 15th
century by knight brigands. In the 16th
century it was upgraded to defend against artillery, before later falling into disuse. When the Prussians captured Alsace in 1871, the town of Selestat gifted the castle to the Kaiser. The Kaiser welcomed the gift because previous German dynasties had owned it and it helped to legitimise his rule. From 1900-1908, an extensive restoration project was undertaken and the ruins were rebuilt into the castle we see today. Of course, the Kaiser only owned it until the end of WW1 when the French took back it back.
From the displays detailing this history, it was onto the reconstructed rooms themselves. There’s not a lot I can say except that there were some interesting things to see, and my photos should give you an idea. Next it was out to the courtyard, most of which was roped off and contained men digging holes.
Then it was up to the grand bastion, from where there are some of the best views you can get of the area. The grand bastion defended the weakest part
of the fortifications, the approach along the ridge. So it was there that an artillery platform was created and the bastion contains a number of cannons on display. Next was a display about the restoration works, before heading out of the castle as the tour ends.
After a relaxing coke while admiring the stunning views, I returned to my car and hit the road again. It was about 4pm then so I didn’t plan to do much else. I decided to head to the village of Bergheim and have a quick walk around. The drive continued to be beautiful as the sun headed towards the horizon and I was soon at Bergheim.
I parked the car outside the town centre and headed in on foot. There were a handful of people at one of the bars near the entrance, but otherwise the town seemed pretty quiet. I saw a sign for the ramparts and decided to check them out. They were nothing special, but I had a pleasant walk as I followed them around the town before returning to my car.
That was enough for the day so I headed into Selestat for a late
lunch/early dinner before returning to my hotel. Currently the internet here is playing up so I’m not sure when this will be posted. Tomorrow I must be on my way early as I’m planning to visit the WW1 fortress at Verdun, and it’s a couple of hours’ drive away.
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