Monday 20 June 2011

Haut Koenigsbourg

I took a couple of days off work to create a long weekend and accompanied by my youngest daughter, visited two castles that were on my 'to see' list. First was Haut Koenigsbourg in Alsace, France.

This is an impressive castle by any measure. You get a brief view of it on the ascent and it perches on the peak of the Vosges mountains overlooking the flat plain across to the Rhine and the German border. It was founded in the twelfth century, but fell into disrepair and was abandoned after the Thirty Years War. In 1899 it was given to Kaiser Wilhelm II who invested heavily and rebuilt it, as a prestigous symbol of German power and nationalism, recreating a semi-mythical past of Haspburg dominance. All the work was completed in only 8 years from 1900, including impressive feats of engineering which included the construction of two bespoke electric-powered cranes on site, one inside the main tower. The current castle is therefore both substantial and complete, but at the same time a composite of other elements of castle design, both real and imaginary.

Germanic emblems and symbolism abound in the carvings, woodwork and paintings. Strangely you get a feeling for both actual medieval castle life and a period of romanticised nationalism on the eve of the Great War at the same time as you walk round and discover the castle. Here's a flavour of the castle's external walls. I'll post more pics of the internal views soon.


Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

They are fantastic!!


Lasgunpacker said...

Great pictures, and that castle looks amazing.

Oh to be able to jaunt off and see a castle so easily...

Sire Godefroy said...

It's a great place to visit, indeed. In particular if, like the last time I went there, a reenactment with the Compagnie of Saynte George is taking place. :-)
Also the cities of Strasbourg and Colmar are nearby - hopefully you (as an avid Late Medieval enthusiast) got there, too?


painterman said...

No time for other local attractions I'm afraid, as travelling took some time. However funny you should mention the re-enactments; watch this space for future entries on the other castle we visited! :)
All the best,

Stephen said...

Great stuff and certainly 'watching this space' ;-)