Whether the Hohenburg family was related to the neighboring house of Fleckenstein has not been proven. In any event, the Hohenburg family controlled a vast territory. In 1482, the castle, originally built in the 13th century, became the property of the Lords von Sickingen. Franz von Sickingen had new fortifications built for the castle. Nevertheless, much of it was destroyed in 1523, and it was only rebuilt several decades later.
The original castle was built around the main rock, against which the large protective wall was erected. The barbican erected by Franz von Sickingen dates back to the year 1504. The stables were located in the first inner courtyard. The outer door from the Renaissance period has become the castle's trademark. In a closed room to the left of the entrance are statues that were found in the castle.
A little further on is the 130-meter-deep well. In the most recent part of the castle, located to the east, one can see remnants of a round tower that had a spiral staircase that led to the upper floors of the palace. notice the entrance (from the year 1578) and some remaining steps. Konrad Puller von hohenburg, one of the best-known members of the family, was also considered one of the greatest troubadours of the middle ages. Not far from the castle is the Maidebrunnen spring, where the saga of the lady in white is set.
This is the second ruin you will see when going on the hiking tour Four Castles trail.
The first mention of the Lords of Loewenstein dates back to the end of the 12th century and Knight Wolfram von Loewenstein. In the year 1283, the castle was handed over to Kaiser Rudolf von Habsburg, who later awarded it to Otto von Ochsenstein. The latter, however, showed little interest in the castle, which in 1830 became a hideout for robber barons. Following its destruction in 1386 by troops of the Count von Lichtenberg and the Bishops of Strasbourg, Loewenstein was apparently never rebuilt. It may, however, have been used as an advance post for Hohenburg castle, and perhaps for Fleckenstein as well. The remnants of the castle that still remain today suggest that it was of relatively minor importance. It comprised two sections: the main castle and a secondary construction, separated by a cleft, where remnants of a spiral staircase can still be seen. Today, access to the former residential quarters is by way of the cistern, where several stone plates used to support the loam to keep it watertight can still be seen. Though an entrance hewn out of the stone, one can reach the rear courtyard where the well stood next to a trough.
Loewenstein is also called Lindenschmitt. According to legend, the castle's robber barons rode their horses backwards to lead their pursuers astray.
This is the first ruin you will see when going on the hiking tour Four Castles trail.
Thanks to its dimensions (Length: 92 meters, average width: 12 meters, average height: 26 meters), Fleckenstein is considered one of the most massive and impressive castles in the Northern Vosges mountains. The castle's noble family was one of the most important in the region. It ruled over six districts and a total of 35 villages. The Fleckenstein family played a political role as far back as the 12th century, but died out in 1720.
Fleckenstein was remodeled a number of times. Today, of the original medieval castle there is only little to be seen apart from the main entrance. At the beginning of the 14th century the inner courtyard was lowered and surrounded by a ring wall. The plateau of the cliff can be reached by steps carved out of the rock face. Above the original entrance hall, now a museum, the castle chapel was once located. The well was protected by a massive tower.
Starting in the early 15th century, a rectangular barbican reinforced the main entrance (see the inscriptions on the outer and inner walls). Somewhat later, the palace, which rose above the plateau, was rebuilt. The massive stairwell dates back to the 16th century. Modifications were also undertaken later.
The castle was destroyed in 1689 by French troops.
Gimbelhof is a hotel and restaurant and the starting point for a walk or hiking course to several castle ruins in the area, see my four castles hiking trail tip.
It has also a large outdoor playground for children, so it's a good place for families.
Favorite Dish: Starters:
They serve frog legs here, which I gave a try and it was delicious.
But on the other hand I cannot recommend the goose liver, which reduced the satisfaction by a whole point.
The main courses are good and plenty for a reasonable price. If you are not so hungry, they also serve smaller portions for two thirds of the price.
It is an average restaurant, but after 3-4 hours hiking it was alright.
The restaurant and hotel run by the family Mischler are located in the former post relais station from 1740.
Father Fernand Mischler and son Franck are the head chefs or chef de cuisine, who were awarded with the Michelin star. Until 2006 they earned two stars but since 2007 and also in 2008 it has been one (only, if you may say so).
Tuesday - Sunday 12:00 - 14:00 and 19:00 - 21:00
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The tour starts at the hotel-restaurant Gimbelhof, which is from Lembach some 7km or 10 minutes by car towards the German border in the North. During the tour you will cross the French-German border twice near the German town Nothweiler.
The tour includes four ruines of castles built in th 12th / 13th century, the castles Fleckenstein, Loewenstein, Hohenbourg, all three in France, and Wengelnburg in Germany. The views from there and also from the cliff Krappenfels just below castle Loewenstein are magnificent.
The tour has a length of about 11km and can be done easily in three hours. If you want to enter and visit the castle Fleckenstein, add some 30 minutes.
Equipment: You will only need light equipment.
We haven't seen any border guards or so, but you may take your passport just as a matter of precaution.