Chateau de Kaysersberg

Kaysersberg (German: Kaisersberg) is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France. The inhabitants are called Kaysersbergeois. The name means Emperor’s Mountain in German. Kaysersberg is considered one of the most beautiful cities on the wine route.

The high fortress that dominates the city serves as a reminder of both its strategic importance and its warlike past. Before World War One, Kaysersberg was part of Germany. Today, Kaysersberg with its medieval atmosphere is more appropriate as the perfect setting for an Alsatian festival. Kaysersberg is one of the finest wine growing areas in Alsace. The first vines were brought here in the 16th century from Hungary, and wine production is still an important aspect of the town’s economy today. Wine produced from the Tokay variety is a local speciality. The chateau was built about the year 1200 by the lords of Ribeaupierre.

It was aquired thereafter, in 1227, by Henri VII of Hohenstaufen. Located at a strategic point with the outlet of the valley of Weiss on the plain of Alsace, the imperial baillif Woelflin was left in charge to strengthen and increase the chateau in 1235. The enclosing walls of the manor house were widened in order to include the small town located against it. At the time of the war which opposed the Germanic Empire to the duchy of Lorraine, the duke Mathieu de Lorraine succeeds in taking the castle by surprise in 1248.

He will be reassigned soon after, in 1260, with the bishop of Strasbourg, Guillaume de Geroldseck. will preserve the chateau until 1263, on a date which it will pass under the arms of Rodolphe de Habsbourg. The chateau during the XVth century of will undergo deep modifications intended to increase its comfort and to reinforce military defenses of the city. In 1525, it will be seriously damaged at the time of the guerre des Rustauds (war of the Bumpkins). It is Lazare de Schwendi who undertakes the recontruction of the chateau in 1573 but the general state of the manor house was already badly degraded.

In 1632, the Swedes take possession of the chateau. finally giving up on its inhabitants consequently the chateau will fall slowly in ruin. A legend tells that the emperor Frederic Barberousse hid treasure in the Chateau de Kaysersberg. This legend, seriously caught by the middle-class men of the city in 1864, resulted in a frenzy of wild excavations which contributed to the dilapidation of the chateau.


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