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Château de Ramstein

 

 

Location: Scherwiller, Bas- Rhin Department Map

Constructed: 1293

 

Ramstein Castle is located in the town of Scherwiller, in the Bas-Rhin department. Its name probably comes from Ram (raven) and Stein (stone) and would mean raven's rock.

Château de Ramstein and Chateau de l'Ortenbourg

History of Château de Ramstein

The castle was built in the middle of the 13th century, by a branch of the line of the lords of Windstein, the Ziedeler, solicitors and ministers of the Hohenstaufen Empire, to control the Zinselbach valley. Marking the limits between the episcopal principality of Metz and the episcopal principality of Strasbourg on which the castle depended, it protected the way leading from Pirmasens to Bouxwiller which passed through this valley. The site which dominates on all sides the slopes made it possible to see the enemy coming and offered a clear view on the valleys.

Lord Henri de Ramstein is mentioned in 1294. The Ramsteins from the Windsteins take their name in 1269. In 1306 is mentioned Heinrich von Uchterer. In 1318 the Castle is mentioned Ramenstein & Ramestein. In 1319 the Ramsteins shared the castle with the Lord of Fleckenstein, then in 1326 with the Dorschweillers of Torcheville. Mandel says that Henri de Ramstein, Walter de Mietesheim, Frédéric de Wasigenstein and Walter de Falkenstein had to act as guarantors to free Henri de Windstein imprisoned in the castle of Bitche by the Duke of Lorraine.

During the fourteenth century, the lords of Ramstein, who had become pillaging knights, transformed the Ramstein into a den of bandits. They are assigned before the Lord of Lichtenberg to answer for their misdeeds but would never have presented themselves. The castle was destroyed in 1335 during a punitive expedition by the troops of the Bishop of Strasbourg and their Bernese allies.

In the fifteenth century, half of the ruins belonged to Count Louis V of Lichtenberg, the other half to the lords of Bootzheim, an illustrious family including Johann von Bootsheim, a friend of Erasmus. Michel de Bootzheim resells it to Philippe de Ramstein, master of the city of Strasbourg. In 1569 at his death the castle returned to the count of Hanau-Lichtenberg.

Located in the Hanau state forest, the ruins are state property. The municipality of Bærenthal signed on March 4, 2008 an emphyteutic lease for a period of 18 years.

The name Ramstein comes from the word Rammestein, Ramme meaning in local language crows and Stein rock or stone.

Historical controversies and untruths
The construction of the castle, in the thirteenth century, is sometimes attributed to the Lord of Falkenstein.
The castle would have been built in 1292, it is indeed from this date that the embossed stones - absent on the site - were abandoned.
The stately home is often confused with a dungeon of which there is no trace.

Special features still visible
The castle is built on a rocky platform of variegated sandstone (or Buntsandstein) 270 m long and 6 m wide on average. The rocky ridge provides support and constitutes the main element of defense of the fortification by its height and verticality.

We can still distinguish the remains of the stately home, the verticality of which is visible from afar, as well as doors, stairs, galleries and two troglodyte chambers carved into the rock.

There is no vestige of a possible dungeon.

A mushroom-shaped sandstone rock is located in front of the ruins of the old castle.

Maginot Line
Below, we can see two underground entrances that communicate with each other. They were dug in 1936 by the military engineers to make a supply depot for the Maginot line. These facilities were used as shelter by the population during the fighting in the winter of 1944-1945. This site is currently closed by gates because it hosts protected bats.

Status
The castle is listed in the topographic inventory of the Lorraine region.

It is a classified site since 1924.

Access
Located at the exit of Bærenthal towards Mouterhouse, you have to follow the rue de Ramstein to access the ruins. Continue straight ahead towards the forest house. A parking lot has been set up by the National Forestry Office on the left at the entrance to the forest. A path leads to the ruins in ten minutes. There is a remarkable viewpoint over the village of Bærenthal and the Zinsel valley.