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Hohkönigsburg - complete winter complex

Hohkönigsburg - complete winter complex

Alternative name (s): Haut-Koenigsbourg
Creation time : First half of the 12th century
Castle type : Höhenburg, ridge position
Conservation status: complete reconstruction 1901–1908
Construction: Humpback cuboid
Place: Orschwiller
Geographical location 48 ° 14 '58 "  N , 7 ° 20' 39"  E Coordinates: 48 ° 14 '58 "  N , 7 ° 20' 39"  E
Height: 757  m
Hohkönigsburg (Bas-Rhin department)
Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor with haloes (1400-1806) .svg
Territory in the Holy Roman Empire
Lords of Thierstein and Hochkönigsburg
coat of arms
Blason Thierstein

Alternative names Dirstein and Hoenkunigsberg
Form of rule Domination
Ruler / government Mr
Today's region / s Bas-Rhin
Parliament Lords and Counts (1521)
Reich register 2 on horseback 9 on foot - 30 guilders (1521)
Reichskreis Upper Rhine district
District council Worms - Frankfurt am Main
Capitals / residences Hohkönigsburg Neu-Homberg
Dynasties Hohenstaufen Lorraine Kurpfalz Thierstein Habsburg
Denomination / Religions Roman Catholic - Evangelical Lutheran
Language / n German - French Alsatian

Incorporated into France after 1648

The Hohkönigsburg (formerly and colloquially Hochkönigsburg , French Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg [ okønɪgzˈbuʀ ]) is a castle reconstructed at the beginning of the 20th century near Orschwiller (Orschweiler) in Alsace ( Département Bas-Rhin ), a good 10 km west of Sélestat ( Schlettstadt) . With around 500,000 visitors annually, it is the most visited castle in the region and one of the most frequented tourist spots in France.


The 260 m long complex is enthroned as a ridge castle at 757 m height on the eastern edge of the Vosges on a mighty red sandstone rock high above the Upper Rhine Plain and is one of the highest castles in Alsace. Together with the ruins of the Ödenburg (Petit-Kœnigsbourg) located at the opposite end of the ridge, about 200 m away , it forms a group of castles.

The view extends far over the Rhine plain to the Kaiserstuhl and several neighboring castle ruins (including Ortenberg , Ramstein , Frankenburg , Kintzheim , Hohrappoltstein ). When visibility is good , the Bernese Alps, almost 200 kilometers away and around four kilometers high, can be seen in the south , whose peaks are roughly on the mathematical horizon of Hohkönigsburg due to the curvature of the earth .


middle Ages

The Stophanberch (Staufenberg), on which the castle is located, is notarized as early as 774 (as a gift from Charlemagne) and 854 and was originally owned by the Abbey of Saint Denis .

The castle was built in the first half of the 12th century as a Hohenstaufen imperial castle and was first mentioned in 1147 as Castrum Estufin . The places and trade routes in this part of the Upper Rhine Rift could be controlled from the castle. In 1147 the name Burg Staufen appeared for the first time, which is said to have been founded by Duke Friedrich , the father of the German King Friedrich Barbarossa . Among other things, a walled-up window arcade and a lion relief have been preserved from the Hohenstaufen era. From 1192 the name Kinzburg (royal castle) was used.

In the 13th century, the Duke of Lorraine became the owner of the castle, who gave it to the Counts of Werd as a fief . In 1359 the Counts of Oettingen sold the castle to the Bishop of Strasbourg . In 1454 the Palatinate Elector Friedrich the Victorious conquered the castle, in 1462 it was destroyed due to robbery. In 1479, Emperor Friedrich III. the castle as a feudal estate to the Swiss Count Oswald von Thierstein († 1488) and his brother Wilhelm.

Decline in modern times

In 1517 the Counts of Thierstein died out; therefore the castle fell back to Emperor Maximilian I and thus to the Habsburgs . During the Thirty Years' War it was besieged by the Swedes for 52 days , captured on September 7, 1633 and set on fire. Between 1648 and 1865 the ruins had different owners. In 1865 it became the property of the city of Schlettstadt.

Rebuilding from 1901 to 1908

As a result of the Franco-Prussian War , Alsace, which had meanwhile belonged to France , was ceded to the German Empire in 1871. In 1899 the city of Schlettstadt donated the castle to Kaiser Wilhelm II , who had it restored in 1901–1908 by the Berlin architect and castle researcher Bodo Ebhardt . The construction cost over two million marks, most of which had to be paid for by Alsace-Lorraine.

On May 13, 1908, the inauguration took place as part of a large celebration with festive music and historical costumes in rainy weather. Viktoria Luise von Prussia , the daughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II, described her in her memoirs:

“The Hohkönigsburg, to which numerous memories of German history adhere, was given to my father as a gift by the mayor when he visited Schlettstadt. He had accepted it and initiated a comprehensive restoration. About ten years later we stood at the inauguration of the mighty castle on a May day. Our gaze slid over the wide plain of the Rhine Valley, over to the elongated heights of the Black Forest and to the shimmering Alpine chain in the distance. In his address, my father referred to the eventful past: 'History tells us a whole series of names from illustrious princely houses and noble families as owners, pledge holders and fiefdoms, first of all the emperors from the Hohenstaufen and Habsburg houses , then the dukes of Lorraine and Lower Alsace, the Landgraves of Werd, the Lords of Rathsamhausen , von Oettingen and von Berckheim, the Counts of Thierstein , whose magnificent building has now been rebuilt, the Knights of Sickingen , whose entry into the castle is so well presented to us today , and the barons of Bollweiler and Fugger . Now the castle has become the property of the German Kaiser again. ' Then he said: 'May the Hohkönigsburg here in the west of the empire, like the Marienburg in the east, remain as a symbol of German culture and power into the most distant times.' "

Two years later, the Posen residential castle on the border with Poland and, in northern Germany, near the border with Denmark , the Mürwik naval school , the so-called Red Castle by the Sea, based on the symbolic model of the Marienburg, was inaugurated by the emperor.

After the First World War until today

The Hohkönigsburg has been owned by the French state since 1919, and by the Bas-Rhin department since January 2007. Today it is considered the most important castle in the region and is the only French national monument ( Monument national ) in Alsace .


Postcard from 1914

The reconstruction by Bodo Ebhardt dealt with the existing building fabric with relative consideration for the time, so that the castle can still be recognized as a complex that has grown over the centuries. The relatively small Hohenstaufen core castle with an irregular floor plan on the highest point of the rock plateau has a square keep (donjon) rebuilt by Ebhardt with adjoining palace ( Logis Seigneurial) to the south , on which a round arch arcade with cube capitals, which was walled up in the late Middle Ages, has been preserved. After 1479 the castle was expanded into a strong fortress. To the west and east, the core castle was reinforced against the emerging artillery by mighty bulwarks , which were built in humpback blocks based on the Hohenstaufen construction . The battlements built by Ebhardt over old corbels were probably originally made of wood; Ebhardt only reconstructed a wooden battlement on one tower in the eastern courtyard . A kennel wall with eleven semicircular shell towers extends around the main castle . On the east side there is a bailey (zoo) with a jagged end. The prestigious ballroom was created by Ebhardt by omitting a false ceiling, on the grate of which Wilhelm II's comment on the First World War can be read: “I didn't want it!” A specially furnished hall shows imperial hunting trophies.

The coat of arms of the last lords of the castle is emblazoned high above the entrance portal and under the protection of the eagle.

The actual castle can be reached via the drawbridge , the inhabited area can be entered through the lion gate. The apartments of the lady of the castle and the knights, the castle chapel and the knight's hall are still with furniture from the 15-17th. Century and can be visited.

The ruins of the Ödenburg from the 13th century are located about 200 m to the west. Above all, the shield wall made of humpback ashlars and the facade of the residential building have been preserved. During the Thirty Years War, the Swedes took the neighboring castle under artillery fire from here.


In Malaysia , 60 km northeast of Kuala Lumpur , there is a - very free - replica of the castle as a luxury hotel in the Berjaya Hills . Not far away, part of Colmar's old town has been recreated.

Bodo Ebhardt's imaginative reconstruction of the castle complex inspired John Howe in his work as an illustrator of the works of JRR Tolkien .


  • Jean-Pierre Barthélémy (Ed.): Le Haut Kœnigsbourg. Editions SPE-Barthélémy, Paris 2013.
  • Thomas Biller, Bernhard Metz: The castles of Alsace - architecture and history. Volume 1: The beginnings of castle building in Alsace (until 1200) . Published by the Alemannic Institute Freiburg i. Br., Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich / Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-422-07439-2 , pp. 358–376.
  • Bodo Ebhardt : Guide through the Hohkönigsburg . Berlin 1902.
  • Ludger Fischer : Bodo Ebhardt's corrections of the story . In: Castles and Palaces . No. 1, 2004, ISSN  0007-6201 , p. 52 ff.
  • Monique Fuchs, Bernhard Metz: Haut-Kœnigsbourg . Paris 2001.
  • Alain Willaume, Jean-Claude Richez: Hohkönigsburg. The Hohenzollern fairytale castle . Nordhouse, 1991.
  • Christoph Bühler: The Hohkönigsburg and its two stories. In: Badische Heimat - online magazine 1/08 PDF


  • The Lord of Hochkönigsburg . Documentation, France 2006, SR, 30 min. Directors: Alexis Metzinger, Yannis Metzinge. (In the film about John Howe , who illustrated JRR Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings , many views of the castle and corridors are shown within.)
  • The great illusion . Feature film, France 1937. Directed by Jean Renoir . (Even if the castle established itself as a popular excursion destination, for many Alsatians it remained a symbol of the German presence in Alsace . So it was all the more natural that Renoir chose this castle as the setting for his famous anti-war film “The Great Illusion” - for a film in which Renoir demonstrates the absurdity of war in the relationship between the French and Germans.)

Individual evidence

  1. The Hohkönigsburg. Retrieved December 7, 2015 (official website of the castle).
  2. Oberrheinische Studien, Volume III., Karlsruhe 1975, p. 381
  3. Viktoria Luise of Prussia: In the shine of the crown . Braunschweig u. a. 1967, p. 316.
  4. ^ Castle double: China now has a castle hotel Neuschwanstein. WORLD, accessed on February 22, 2017 .
  5. TV documentary "In the footsteps of the Hobbits", Arte TV 2014.

Web links

Commons : Hohkönigsburg  - Collection of images, videos and audio files