Its Alsace time!
After watching this stage I am all in for an Alsatian road trip. It’s amazing how the architecture in Alsace all of sudden became really german. I love it.
Obernai is a town in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France. It lies on the eastern slopes of the Vosges mountains.
The Obernai name first appears in 1240, when the village acquires the status of town under the Hohenstaufen family. The town then prospered. Obernai’s status reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1562, Emperor Ferdinand I visited Obernai.
The Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) damaged the town, which was occupied by the Imperial troops, then by the Swedes and then was ransomed and ceded to France in 1679. The town was annexed by Germany in 1871 with the rest of Alsace, then returned to France after World War I in 1918.
Obernai is an important center of wine and beer production, as well as a touristic destination.
- Official City Site
- Tourism Obernai
- French Moments
- Wyld Family Travel
- Our World for You Blog
This Catholic church was built between 1865 and 1970 by Eugène Petiti and inaugurated in 1872. Its constructed from pink sandstone found in the Vosges mountains.
This is the 3rd church on this site. This church replaced a former Gothic sanctuary from the 15th century. Before that, there was a Romanesque sanctuary with a crypt built around 1160-1170.
The façade features three main doors above which is a round stained glass window. The building is topped by two identical soaring spires.
Hotel de Ville & The Belfry
At the end of Place du Marché is the Hotel de Ville. It was built between 1462 and 1523 in the Neo-Renaissance style. The balustrade was a later addition, added in 1604. This was once the court of justice.
Standing next to the Hotel de Ville is the Belfry. It was initially the bell tower for the Chapel of the Virgin which was built around 1285 and demolished in 1873. The tower stands at approximately 60m. The gallery at the top with the 4 corner watchtowers was added in 1596.
Obernai was once a double-walled town. The inner wall was 1400 meters long and had 20 watchtowers and 4 gates. Today the space between the walls is a fantastic place to go for a stroll.
Château de Haut-Andlau
Constructed on a narrow granite outcrop it dominates the valleys of Andlau and Kirneck. It was built between 1246-1264. In 1678, after the joining of Alsace to France it was pillaged. It was owned by the counts of Andlau until the French Revolution. It was confiscated as a national asset then sold in 1796 to a merchant who began to sell the castle piece by piece. Thankfully in 1818 Antoine-Henri d’Andlau bought the ruin and saved it from further destruction. Repair work was done in 1856.
It was classified as a Historic Monument in 1926 and was reinforced the year after. It still belongs to the Andlau family.
Château de Kintzheim/La Volerie des Aigles (Eagle Park)
This chateau has a really complicated history. I will attempt to quickly go over the highlights.
The construction of the castle began around 1250 on the order of Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen. The keep and rampart were finished at the end of the 13th century. The residential structures were built during the 14th and 15th centuries.
In 1492, on the order of Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg the castle was sold to the town of Selestat. It was partly destroyed in the Thirty Years War (1633); Selestat sold the castle in 1649 as part of the peace treaties that ended the Thirty Years War. The castle was then partially restored in the late 1600s. The castle was abandoned following the French Revolution of 1789. It was put up for sale in 1801. Selestat tried to regain possession, however, Napolean gave it to Mathieu de Favier, who had to pay Selestat to settle their claim on it. He built a manor house below the castle, adding an English style park between the 2 structures. (Currently noted as one of the Notable Gardens of France). He created the garden to highlight the view of the castle as inspired by paintings of the time. His descendants became responsible fo preserving it. During the 19th century, medieval castles came back in fashion. In 1876 german architects carried out a consolidation of the ruins. In 1945 it was used as an observation post during WWII battle for Alsace. The tower was damaged by artillery. In 1965 the ruins were classified as a Historic Monument. In 1968 the “Eagles Nest” (La Volerie des Aigles) was installed at the ruins which is to this day a tourist attraction.
The Eagles Nest is a sanctuary for all types of birds of prey, including eagles, falcons, and vultures which are in danger of extinction. It’s an open-air space where you can see the largest birds of prey in the world in free-flight demonstrations. You would never be able to see these creatures up close in the wild.
- Official Site – Eagle Park
- Selestat Tourisme – The Eagle Park
- Tourism Alsace – Chateau de Kintzheim
- Tourism Alsace – Eagle Park
- Selestat Haut-Koenigsbourg Tourism
- Wikipedia – Chateau de Kintzheim
Église Saint-Georges de Châtenois
The current church was built from 1759 until 1761 by the local architect Martin Dorgler, but retains a Romanesque steeple from the 12th century which is crowned with a spire from 1525.
The church houses some notable works of art among which are two 16th-century polychrome wooden Renaissance reliefs of the Nativity and the Assumption of Mary. There is also a 1765 pipe organ by Johann Andreas Silbermann.
It became a registered Historic Monument in 1901.
Personally, I am in love with the roof tile colors and patterns. I don’t know if its an original feature or not, but I love it all the same.
Eglise Saint-Georges – Séléstat
Originally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the church has been named after Saint George since 1500 and is famous for the trees hung in the church at Christmas. In fact, the earliest recorded mention of a Christmas tree is from a manuscript of the town of Selestat in 1521. Who knew!
Chateau of Haut-Koenigsbourg
The Chateau of Haut-Koenigsbourg is one of the most visited tourist locations in France, with nearly 500,000 visitors each year. It is located in the Vosges mountains just west of Séléstat in a strategic area overlooking the Upper Rhine Plain. It was used by successive powers from the Middle Ages up until the Thirty Years War, after which it was abandoned. It was left unused and overgrown for several hundred years, although it did inspire poets and artists over that period.
The ruins have been listed as a historic monument of the Second French Empire since 1862. They were purchased by the town of Selestat 3 years later. After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71 the region was incorporated into the German Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine. In 1899 the citizens’ grants the castle remains to the German Emporer Wilhelm II. He wished to rebuild the castle in part to try to reinforce the bond of the Alsatians with Germany as it was just incorporated into the new German Empire. Reconstruction took place between 1900 -1908. Some license was taken but overall it was a fairly accurate rebuild.
After WWI, the 1919 Treaty of Versailles returned the castle to the French state. It’s been listed as a Historic Monument by the French Ministry of Culture since 1993. In 2007 ownership transferred to the Bas-Rhin département.
Château de Kaysersberg dit Schlossberg
The castle was built around 1220. The circular keep is the oldest part of the castle and one of the first of its type in the region. It was designed at the same time as the Castle of Pflixbourg (below). Made largely of granite, it has a triangular plan dominated by the keep at its highest point.
The castle was abandoned at the end of the 16th century. It’s been listed as a Historic Monument since 1841.
Château d’eau de Sélestat
As the name would suggest this is a water tower. It has a height of 50 meters and will hold 500 cubic meters of water.
Built in 1906, it was modeled after a water tower built in Holland. It was classified as a Historic Monument in 1992.
Route de Cinq Chateaux
The ending portion of this stage went along the road known as the Route de Cinq Chateaux, which literally means the route of the 5 castles.. so obviously, we are gonna be passing a bunch of castles, or more specifically castle ruins.
Château du Hohlandsbourg
Built in 1279, it was built from granite, unlike the rest of the castles in the region which were made from sandstone for the Vosges.
It was built to become the residency of the Habsburg family. I was built in a place that gave it a good view of the city of Colmar which the bourgeois of Colmar did not like. So in 1281, they burned it down.
Its ownership changed hands over the centuries. It was extended by one, then reinforced by another. In 1633 it was bombed by the Swedish army. In 1637 the french then demolished it out of fear it would end up in Austrian hands.
It was listed as a historic monument in 1840 and there were renovations done in the 1990s.
Les Trois-Chateaux du Haut-Eguisheim
Traveling from south to north the castles are named Weckmund, Wahlenbourg, and Dagsbourg. Wahlenbourg castle is the oldest of the three, having been built in the 11th century.
In medieval Alsace castles like these protected the local area as the region was divided into small territories and ruled by local lords who were at war with one another for political or economic reasons.
They were originally owned by the Eguisheim-Dabo family, though with the extinction of that dynasty in 1225 things got a bit crazy. The Bishop of Strasbourg claimed them, though the Ferrette family and Emporer Henry VII also claimed them, which of course caused a war. Peace was regained in 1251 with the Bishop keeping Dagsbourg, and the other 2 were returned to the Ferrette family.
Of course, they were burned down in another war in 1466 and they were never rebuilt.
Chateau de Pflixbourg
It was built around 1212-1220. It has a polygonal enclosure surrounded by a ditch and controlled by a massive tower. It contains a dungeon, a cistern, housing and a common. It is divided into three levels: basement, ground floor and a floor consisting of rooms of noble dwellings.
The entrance is quite unique with the gate being inset at the end of long ‘corridor’. The tower is 23 meters high and is the first of its kind in Alsace.
The tower ended up serving as an observatory during WWI.
It has been a registered historical monument since Dec 1968
Colmar is a city and commune in the Haut-Rhin department and Grand Est region of north-eastern France. It is also the third-largest commune in Alsace. It is renowned for its well preserved old town.
Colmar is situated on the Alsatian Wine Route and considers itself to be the “capital of Alsatian wine”.
La Petite Venise – Colmar
This picturesque area of Colmar is located in the south suburb of the historic center in the district Krutenau.
This district was set up in the Middle Ages in a market gardening zone, in a marshy area at the southern gates of the historic center of Colmar. The name probably comes from the houses that lined both sides of the river Lauch. The district also includes the Canal of the Fishmonger.
- Official City Site
- French Moments
- Tourism Colmar
- Michelin Travel Guide
- Tourism Alsace
- EarthTrekkers Blog
The current building on this location is actually the third church built here. In 1972 an archaeological dig revealed the foundations of the previous two. The first was a Carolingian church build sometime around 1000. The second one was a Romanesque church. The present building was built in the Gothic style between 1234 and 1365 as the church of a college, initially devoted to the cult of Martin of Tours. The Renaissance-style crown over the bell tower was added in 1572 after a fire.
The Église Saint-Martin suffered extensive damage during the French Revolution and was later restored. In 1982, archaeological excavations revealed the foundations of the Carolingian and Romanesque churches.