Château du Fleckenstein

Château du Fleckenstein

 

 

Location: Lembach, Bas-Rhin department    Map

Constructed: 12th century

Tel. +33 88 94 28 52

 

Château du Fleckenstein is located in Lembach in Bas-Rhin department of France. Château du Fleckenstein has a shape of a boat with a length of 52 meters, constructed on top of the sandstone. Château du Fleckenstein existed here since at least since 1165 when Fleckenstein aristocratic family constructed it to defend its lands. However there is no way to tell for sure then was it constructed exactly or whether the underground structures existed before fortifications were added. Unique system of collection of rainwater should be mentioned separately. Underground tunnels cut in the sandstone below the castle is designed in a way that all rainwater can be collected in the underground cisterns. During sieges it could be used by the defending garrison.
 
Castle Fleckenstein lost its military use and subsequently renovated in the 15th and 16th centuries. Only lower portions of the castle date back to the medieval times. Upper parts of towers and walls were added later. In 1570 Château du Fleckenstein was divided between two branches of the Fleckenstein family and in 1720 the castle was sold to Vitzthum d'Egersberg. In 1807 fortress was baught by Apffel and in 182 it was acquired by Baron Pierrebourg. Since 1919 it came in possession of the French state and added to the list of historical monuments of France.

 

History

Fleckenstein Castle, attested in 1165, was built from the 12th century. This stronghold remained the property of the barons of Fleckenstein until 1720, when the last branch of the family died out.

In the 16th century the castle was shared between the two branches of the Fleckensteins and a charter (called the castral peace) had been drawn up to ensure the sharing, thus creating a form of co-ownership. The arms of Frédéric de Fleckenstein and those of his second wife, Catherine de Cronberg adorn the staircase tower.

It was part of a series of castles which guarded the link road between Bitche and Wissembourg. It was destroyed in 1689 by General Melac, commander of the troops of Baron de Montclar under Louis XIV. The stronghold passed to the Vitzthum of Egersberget, in 1812 the ruins were bought by an individual, J.-L. Apffel, then in 1812 it passed to General Harty, Baron de Pierrebourg, in 1919 to the State, then in 1958 to the Lembach tourist office.

 

Description

This fortress has been altered several times. Ninety meters long, thirty meters high and ten meters wide, this castle is shaped like a ship. The castle was erected in the Middle Ages at the top of pink sandstone peaks. An ingenious rainwater harvesting system supplied a cistern and a freight elevator lifted water and other burdens upstairs. Inside the surrounding walls, there remains the lower courtyard, a square tower, galleries dug in the rock as well as rooms like that of the Knights.

The oldest parts, Romanesque, are the stairs carved out of the rock, the troglodyte rooms and the summit cistern.

The well tower is made up of a lower part of the thirteenth century, surmounted by constructions of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The inner door of the farmyard is dated 1407 or 1423 and the outer door 1428 or 1429.

Walls, towers, curtain walls, ditches, barbican defend the castle of which only vestiges remain: traces of a square keep, cellars, walls of the house and remains of a staircase turret, prison dug into the rock and the archives room whose door is decorated with the Fleckenstein shields.

 

Tourism

As the castle welcomes many visitors - around 70,000 in 2010 - the site has been subject to specific improvements nearby.

The Aire des Charbonniers pays homage to this ancient profession. A charcoal hut is reconstituted there. In summer (end of July-beginning of August) a Semaine des Charbonniers offers a series of activities.

Le P'tit Fleck is a fun and educational space for young children on the theme "Sandstone and forest". This is a tour of around 1 hour. A discovery of the castle through the solving of puzzles - the Castle of the Challenges - is also offered to them.

The Circuit des Quatre Châteaux invites hikers to include three other fortified sites in their itinerary: the Hohenbourg castle, the Lœwenstein castle and the Wegelnburg (Palatinate).