Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle


On the top of Mount Stophanberch emerges the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle, one of the most visited monuments in France (which we have seen in the early hours) built in the twelfth century to monitor the routes of wine, wheat, silver and salt and whose walls still breathe centuries of intense history until today. The rest of the day has taken us to Strasbourg through Obernai, calmly following the route by car through Alsace.

If these days we have not seen more than vestiges of those medieval castles, today the morning (after breakfast) we had prepared one of the best visits in Alsace.

Behind the walls of that fortress that we begin to see emerge on top of the hill, they breathe neither more nor less than nine centuries of events and legends. We did not have to get up early, it opens at 9:30 and we were only 25 minutes from Le Verger Des Châteaux where we slept and had breakfast (20 EUR both buffet)

Shcedules and prices:

The schedules The Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle from November to February are from 9.30 am to 12pm and from 1pm to 4.30pm, March and October from 9.30am to 5pm, April, May and September from 9.15am to 5.15pm and from June to August from 9.15 am to 6pm, closing the box office 45 minutes before closing.

The prices as of the date of this article they are 8 euros (6 euros reduced rate of students and other groups), entering those under 18 for free (see the official Web group prices)

For those of us who come by car, it is important to know that there are about 150 free parking spaces available. Also an interesting fact is that the visit can take 1 hour, but the average time taking it calmly is between 1.30 hours and 2 hours. An indicative map of the official website would be something similar to this ...

The snow these days possibly leaves a very different place from the usual. Even the path that accesses its entrance is complex.

The first foundations ofHaut-Koenigsbourg Castle dating from 1147. From 700 meters the Castrum Estuphin (original name) emerged watching the main routes of the region, and in a model, before accessing, one can get an idea of ​​its greatness

After paying the entrance to the left (16 EUR), you can access an interior, where there are also other types of rooms and a shop

That is when the ticket is delivered and a non-return visit (one way) through all the ins and outs begins.

We enter through its ground floor (there are also first and second and some beautiful gardens) and we can get an idea of ​​the greatness of the place.

History tells us that its first incidents occurred with its destruction in 1462, from the Tiersteins to the Habsburgs, rebuilt and expanded with a defensive system resistant to artillery fire.

Its outer walls surround an area of ​​approximately 270 m long and 40 m wide and as we enter you can see the inn, fountain and forge.

The first floor gives us the image of what were the households. Those of the North are presented as a series of interconnected rooms, their walls being decorated with wooden panels.

Those of the South were reserved for the Tierstein residence, in addition to a small chapel (by the way, how small the beds were, common to all these castles)

The second floor, however, speaks very well of the restoration process carried out in the Castle (of the few in the area as we have seen these days) from 1900 to 1908 (although it was already in 1865 when the town we see below Selestat) acquires without achieving a specific project). The chamber of the empresses and antechamber or the Kaiser's Alcove(with an imperial eagle and the Prussian motto) speak well of it.


Wood and lead galleries give access to the trophy room and armory. Small were spent then!

Going up some steps we reach thedrawbridge from where you access the courtyard and also to the Medieval Garden, which although it pretends to represent the aspects of the medieval era, of wicker lattice, shrubs, orchards, medicinal plants, and a rose flower garden, is perhaps the weakest in our opinion. It dates from 2001.

It is towards the west side, crossing a garden and the second drawbridge, where we reach the Great bastion, a medieval defensive building flanked by two towers.

We continue the story in a stage of desolation, because the Swedish artillery in the Thirty Years War ended up invading and besieging it to finally destroy it in 1633, thus leaving the next 200 years, becoming a refuge for bandits ravaging the fields of Alsace.

We finish the walk watching the imposing restoration work done. It is possibly one of the best we have seen in our trips and deserves to be told.

! Essential visit! Without a doubt, whose white print leaves a special "enchanted castle" image, but it sure has better views at another time of the year, right Paula?

It is also that it is one of the most beautiful castles we have visited (which have not been few) and although it has nothing to do with that style of "Castle of the Mad King", by the dates it does remind us of that snowy morning in Fussen lands.

Visit to the Struthof-Natzweiler concentration camp:

This concentration camp was the main center operated by the Nazis during World War II in the Alsace region. Again the cruel history is repeated, this time in Gallic territory of the natural area of ​​Struthof, it was active from 1940 until its evacuation in August 1944. It is a good option to visit a few kilometers for those who want to complement their day. However, we will continue on the "Christmas theme"

Time to resume our route to the north of Alsace, this time to a place also quite mystical, about 40 minutes north and to Strasbourg (as we have done our entire route from Mulhouse)

For those who ask the snow driving theme. !!No problem!! Even these days with temperatures of -12ºC, the snow-removing machines have worked perfectly, and with a car prepared for winter like ours (we have taken it in the Swiss part of the Basel-Mulhouse airport so that it had them of series besides the vignette) less still.

Monte Sainte Odile and the history of Odilia

Of disconcerting origin (some speak of S.II B.C. and others of the Bronze age), Mount Sainte Odile has a legend behind.

Santa Odilia was the daughter of the Marquises of Alsace. Waiting for the father another son, the pregnancy brought a blind daughter and before the threat of the duke with killing her, the mother gave it to a nurse to take him to a monastery. And then there was a miracle, and it is that God baptized her on the way to the Monastery and also regained her sight, so that her brother returned for her. He outcome was fatal, and the anger led the duke to kill them both, although his repentance had a castle for his daughter as forgiveness and with him the monastery we see now. What a drama, right? As gloomy as the place that surrounds us in what at another time must be privileged views (although there are those who always find the positive side)

As we enter we realize that the Pilgrimage is usual to this monastery, which also holds surprises such as the pagan wall formed by 300,000 blocks of stone and that reaches between 1.60 and 1.80 meters wide by up to 3 m high in 10 km around the flat top.

It is essential to visit the tomb of the protagonist and, of course, be respectful of her beliefs

The abbey also has two prominent chapels, that of Saint John the Baptist and that of Notre-Dame de la Asunción

Today the monastery has also become a tourist center, even with a hotel and a restaurant inside.

Although perhaps it is neither our prototype of accommodation nor gastronomy, so we put the GPS route to Obernai, just 15 km (20 minutes from here).

Obernai, a town that breathes Alsace

Obernai is possibly not a place that surprises us a priori after having enjoyed the beautiful route by car through the Alsace of villages these days.

However, its importance in antiquity by the presence of Adalrico, father of Santa Odile and its incredible historic center, well deserve a stop even to eat.

The first thing that surprises us as we park (1 EUR) is that your Christmas market (!! who has it !!) is divided into three seats. In the Place du Beffroi there is the Marché de la Gastronomie de Noël in Alsace (food). In the Place du Marché is the Marché de la Clairière Enchantée (nativity scene, sweets, Christmas items). Finally, in the Place de l'étoile is the Marché autour de la volière (Christmas decorations, gifts and others).

Schedules and dates of the Christmas markets in Obernai:You can check it directly in the Christmas website in Alsace in case it varies another year, although they usually keep the same dates.

- Dates: From November 29 to December 31

- Hours: From 10am to 7pm from Monday to Sunday (except 25 closed and 24 and 31, see schedules)

To us, as always, the one we liked the most is Christmas decorations. How many have Paula already taken home? By the way, here is the first place where we have seen live animals mixed with birth (a mule and some sheep)

Of the town, in addition to its walls that are still preserved, we would highlight everything (it is not worth it or put a map as it is small), from its beautifulTown Hall, the Market Square with the fountain of San Odile, the tower of La Chapelle (S.XIII) or the church of San Pedro and San Pablo (where we have hallucinated with the impressive relief stone carvings)

Obernai is also famous for something that we fancy even more at this time,!! its excellent gastronomy!! The great variety of typical Alsatian cuisine that we have discovered has a high point here with its foie gras, choucroutier, cheese, chocolate, wines and beers, so we have decided to enter a place that ... !! we would not recommend nobody!! Slow, bad service and regular food. Cross out the Chambres D'Hôtes from your list of possible (37.30 EUR).

It's around 2:30 pm when we decided to say goodbye to a city that is worth a stop and back for the car. Tomorrow is December 31, and it is time to decide our New Year's Eve destination this year that could not be other than ...! Strasbourg!

Strasbourg Christmas Market

It is not more than 25 minutes what it takes to reach the largest city in Alsace, but enough to realize that we are in the place of more atmosphere and where it will be more difficult to park

Although there is so much movement, that after 5 minutes of queuing in one of the megaparking near the hotel, we achieved our goal. We are next to the Cathedral (just 5 minutes walk) in an accommodation to write down, the Hôtel Du Dragon, which takes care of every detail, including its entry

We are not going to waste the day. Strasbourg is considered by many as "The Capital of Christmas" and !! let's discover the reason !! Do you think it will be difficult for us?

As? More than 10 markets? But if already 5 what to see in Colmar They seemed enough. !! This is Strasbourg !! and the location of your Christmas markets

Perhaps The Marché de Noël de la Cathédrale is the most frequented of all for its location and has been developing since 1570 (!! the oldest in France !!)

Times and dates of the Christmas markets in Strasbourg:You can check it directly in the Christmas website in Alsace in case it varies another year, although they usually keep the same dates. In the so-called "Christmas Capital" there are not 1, nor 5, but !! more than 10 markets! distributed in more than 300 wooden booths in different squares of the city.

- Dates: From November 28 to December 31

- Hours: From 10am to 8pm from Sunday to Thursday and Friday and Saturday until 9pm until 24, and from 10am to 7pm from 26 to 31 (except 24, 25 and 31, see schedules)

We are not going to tell you too much that we have not counted these days. The adjectives are over. Thus, we have begun our route through theMarché des délices de Noël (4) en place de Austerlitz is more traditional and culinary (Alsace wine, foie gras, etc ...)

There are two similar ones, in theplace du Corbeau (8) and place de la Gare, both very simple, but where to the famous Christmas shop Käthe Wohlfahrt that we saw yesterday in the Alsace car route who took us to Riquewhir, has set up his own "mini-branch"

HeVillage du pays invited (3) In Place Gutenberg, the next one we have seen, is different every year, and welcomes another country. This year Belgium, where Christmas is also very much enjoyed and is a pending destination. A hot wine and another glass for the collection (3 EUR + 1 EUR consignment of the glass we take)

He Marché de Noël de la Cathédrale (2)with the backdrop gothic cathedral of Strasbourg is the most beautiful for us

Here is also the Tourist Office, and the biggest atmosphere of the city. Its streets are full of colored lights and details even in the slightest unthinkable place

He Marché du Carré d'or (7) in the Place du Temple Neuf is that of the merchants of the Carré d'Or

Paula has taken the opportunity to take energy with a waffle (3.50 EUR) that called her shouting (I think it happened to us every day on this trip, if it was not the waffle they were churros, but the mulled wine, and other cupcakes)

In theory the Village du partage (9) The Place Kléber is the most traditional, as the inhabitants of Strasbourg still leave gifts under the giant tree (Grand Sapin) for the city's poor. We do not know if they have already removed it, but we have encountered the bonit tree and little else. Will there be some New Year's Eve tomorrow here?

HeChristkindelsmärik Strasbourg (1), in Broglie square, it is the most important in the city and takes place in the oldest Christmas site in France (Christmas decoration, glass jewelry, decorative items and handmade toys, in addition to Kougelhof, strudel, bredle ( cakes), beer and mulled wine. From here we take a sign for our Bethlehem (5.90 EUR)

He Marché des infeéductibles petits producteurs (5), in the Place des Meuniers, dedicated to local products of Alsace, the Marché des Rois Mages (6), in Place Benjamin-Zix, on the theme of the Magi and theVillage des enfants (10), in the place Saint Thomas, designed for children and their families (or for Paula, which at this time is transformed, haha), we have left them for tomorrow while we know the city, a Strasbourg full of moments, like the incessant passing of trams ...

A problem we have encountered is to see that the French do not celebrate New Year's Eve as Germans or Austrians. There is no stage or night stands, but tradition goes through a dinner. It cost us a bit but we already have room for dinner !! superchulooo !! What do you think?

From the cold night of the French Alsace (although we are already above 0ºC), already with the lonely streets of Strasbourg preparing the new year and with us dinner (34 EUR), we say goodbye one more day from this, our own " Christmas story". Thank you all for writing!

Isaac and Paula, from Strasbourg (France)