If the structure of the castle gives a good idea of how a mountain fortress looked in the Middle Ages, the restoration under Kaiser Wilhelm II aimed at showing a medieval German style decor and to create a museum.
A company was founded in 1904 the "Hohkönigsburgverein" composed of university professors, architects and archeologists. They gathered together a collection of Medieval and Renaissance objects from the Rhine area which now decorate the castle. They did also promote tourism at Haut-Koenigsbourg.
On the first floor are the northern living quarters consisting of a series of interconnected rooms. The walls are decorated with wooden paneling, used from the 15th century onwards for insulation. The southern living quarters were habited by the Tierstein family. Wooden galleries lead to the trophy room and armoury. Here is a rather small collection of weapons dating from the end of the Middle Ages.
On the second floor one can visit the Kaiser's bedchamber and the Lorraine room. The frescoes on the vaulted ceiling, featuring an imperial eagle with the Prussian motto, are from the early 20th century. On the other side of the castle are the Empresses chamber and antechamber. The furniture is authentic as well as the wood stove with the ceramic decoration. The imperial kitchens on the third floor are modern from 1908.
Shall I say that I was not enthusiast about the décor, but "de gustibus et coloribus non disputandum est"!
This mountain castle goes back to the middle ages. The name "Köningsburg" King's castle is already mentioned in 1192.
It belonged to the Hohenstaufen, then the Dukes of Lorraine and was burned in 1462. It was rebuilt by the Thiersteins and again destroyed (1633) by the Swedish troops after a 52-day siege during the Thirty Years' War.
For several centuries the ruins were abandoned and became overgrown by the forest.
It was given by the city of Sélestat to the German emperor Wilhelm II in 1899. The Kaiser wished to create for himself a castle lauding the qualities of the medieval time of Alsace and more generally of German civilization.
From 1900 to 1908 huge works of reconstruction/restoration were achieved under the direction of Bodo Ebhardt. It was rebuild as close as possible to what it was thought to be looking in the 15th c. and intended to be visited.
After World War I, the French state confiscated the castle which is now a national historic site.
The village of St-Hippolyte is better known for the castle of Haut Koeningsbourg located at about 8 km by a twisting road through the woods.
The castle at an altitude of 755 m generally allows very wide sights on the valley of the Rhine.
We did not have this chance as it started snowing. On the other hand the ascent and descent in the snow was rather impressive as well as the look of the fortifications under the white blanket.
The castle is open all year round, every day except on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
Ticket office opening hours:
January, February, November and December 9.30 – 12.00 & 13.00 – 16.30 h
March and October 9.30 – 17.00 h
April, May and September 9.15 – 17.15 h
June, July and August 9.15 – 18.00 h
The castle closes 45 minutes after the ticket office in the evening.
Full rate 7.50 €
Reduced rate 5.70 €
Children under 18 Free of charge.
Free parking on the road near the castle. 150 places.