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Château de l'Ortenbourg

Château de l'Ortenbourg

Château de l'Ortenbourg is a ruined medieval citadel near a town of Scherwiller in the Bas- Rhin department in France. It was built in the 13th century along with Château de Ramstein on a strategic hill at the elevation of 440 meters above sea level. It might take you about 0.5- 1 hour of arduous walk to get here from Gasthaus Huhnelmuhl or from Tarennelkreuz.




Location: Scherwiller, Bas Rhin department  Map

Constructed: 13th century




History of Château de l'Ortenbourg

First mention of a military fortification on a site of present day Château de l'Ortenbourg date back to 1166. It belonged to Werner of Ortenburg who ordered construction of series of defensive and religious buildings. Château de l'Ortenbourg was particularly important castle since it controlle the Ville Valley below.



Current medieval citadel, however, dates back to 1262-65 when it was constructed by the orders of Rudolf von Habsburg. Château de l'Ortenbourg served him as his private residence until he was crowned as king in 1273 at the castle. Just 20 years later in 1293 Château de l'Ortenbourg was besieged by Otto Ochsenstein from the nearby Ramstein Castle, but failed to take it. In 1551 it was bought by the Governor of Innsbruck, Nicholas de Bolwiller. During the Thirty Years War Château de l'Ortenbourg was burned to the ground in 1633. Its ruins changed hands repeatedly, but it was never rebuild to serve its former military use.


In 1806 Château de l'Ortenbourg was bought by Baron Mathieu- Faviers who performed extensive restoration of the castle. He donated this historic citadel to the town of Scherwiiler. In 1924 the castle was designated as a historic monument.




Defenses of Château de l'Ortenbourg


Defenses Château de l'OrtenbourgOne of the unique features of Château de l'Ortenbourg is elegance of the its buildings. Unlike other medieval castles in France and overall Europe, this castle has wide and large windows that offered plenty of light inside the rooms. Wooden parts have rotten away, but it is easy to imagine large rooms with plenty of light and warmth from two fire places that are still visible. One of the reasons for such impractical design from the military point of view is its location. Château de l'Ortenbourg is well anchored on a strategic hill. Even walking here might be hard, but armed medieval troops certainly had much hard time reaching the base of the walls. Additionally underground structures and a maze of tunnels allowed small garrison of the castle to appear unexpectedly anywhere around the castle, strike and when subsequently retreat back inside. The main tower of Château de l'Ortenbourg or its dungeon, served as the last defensive line in case all of castle fell to the enemy.