The Chateaux of Alsace
Alsace has history of wars and battles simply as its position on the border of France and Germany makes it a contentious place. It was also a popular trading route for both wine and salt.
It is no wonder that defensive fortresses in the form of castles (or chateaux as the French call them) were built in this region. Over 500 of them are this region, mostly ruined but all usually perched on hill tops. Here are some of the most intriguing....
Chateaux de Haut Koenigsbourg
This chateau is concealed amongst the mountains of the Vosges and has seen countless battles. Its the only medieval castle in the area that has been restored to its former glory and it sits at about 800m high providing fantastic views over the glorious surrounding countryside. What a beauty! German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm certainly thought so as he had it restored at the beginning of the 20th century.
Chateau de Lichtenberg
This is one of the most unusual chateaux here and it was built by one of the most powerful families back in the 13th century, the Lichtenberg's. Located in the northern Vosges Mountains, it was built on a promontory at 400m high. Although in ruins it is a simply beautiful sight and even the 16th century Gothic-style chapel is worthy of a visit. It has a Renaissance marble mausoleum and a monumental staircase leading to its towers.
Chateau de Kayserburg
The remains of this castle stand above the town of the same name. iTs role, when it was built, was to provide defence between the Vosges Mountains and Lorraine. It has got one of the oldest circular keeps in Alsace and has been listed as a "Monument Historique" by the French Ministry of Culture. Take a tour and see its stunning Gothic windows.
Chateau du Haut-Ribeaupierre
Standing on a hill near Ribeauville, this castle is the highest of the three that were built in the area standing at 642m. It was built during the Great Interregnum during the 13th century. This period in history was between 1250 and 1273 after the death of Frederick II of Germany triggered international confusion and political unrest. The chateau was used as a watchtower to look out for invasions, but also forest fires. It has a circular keep with splendid views over the Alsatian Plain. It is also known as Altenkastel.
Chateau du Girsberg
One of the three Ribeauville chateaux this castle was built in the first half of the 13th century. Also known as Petit-Ribeaupierre as it provided housing for the family of the same name. Still left is a keep with eight sides and an inner courtyard. There is no entry fee, as it is a ruin and therefore you can visit it whenever you want.