We are up and out this morning about 8:30am and realize this is the time to explore the old city as there is no one around on a Sunday morning. However, we are heading to the train station to catch the train one stop up the line to Selestat. At Selestat, we catch a bus that takes us 30mins up the local mountain to the castle on the top. It turned out to be ‘Heritage day’ and so the bus and the castle are free!
The castle is the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle. Originally built in the 1200’s to protect surrounding lands, or at least the nobles of the land, but was destroyed in the 1400’s and rebuilt and then destroyed again in the 1700’s. It lay in ruins for a couple of hundred years until the German Emperor, William II of Hohenzollern decided it should be restored, a massive undertaking that occurred between 1900 – 1908. At this point in time, this area was part of Germany, so no doubt it sounded like a good idea. But I guess they must have been a bit peeved in 1919 when this area was given back to France, a fully restored castle included.
The restoration was done in a manner that restored the castle to its 15th – 16th century condition…with the exception of a few extra stairs and doors to keep the tourists moving and a shop at the end to try and catch a few tourist dollars. These massive stone constructions always seem so cold and I am always eternally grateful that I live in the modern times of central heating. Although I have to say these dudes did ok with either open fires or Dutch tiled ovens in each room.
We spent a couple of hours wandering the castle and then caught the bus back down the hill to another quaint town, Kintheim, where we stopped for a couple of hours to sit out the front of a local Winstub (restaurant) and have our lunch. We tried another couple of local wines, but still have either not found a good one yet or Alsacian wines are just not our cup of tea.
We then walked 5kms back to the train station and caught the train back to Colmar. Another quick walk around the old town and then back to cook ourselves some dinner.