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Château du Birkenfels

Château du Birkenfels



Location: Ottrott, Bas- Rhin department  Map


The Birkenfels castle is a castle located in the Obernai forest, in the municipality of Ottrott (Bas-Rhin). The ruins of Birkenfels Castle have been classified as a historical monument since November 16, 1984.


History of Château du Birkenfels

Reconstruction of Château du BirkenfelsChâteau du Birkenfels is a medieval citadel that is situated just outside of the town of Ottrott in Bas- Rhin department of France. Château du Birkenfels is a medieval citadel set on a rocky outcrop. It was constructed in the 13th century by Burkhard Berger, a vassal of the bishop of Strasbourg. The lands around the fortress were owned by the Imperial court so neither bishops nor Berger himself had any authority over it. However during brief period imperial power over the region was weakened around 1260's. The first time Château du Birkenfels was officially mentioned was in 1289 when Rudolph of Hapsburg regulated local taxes.


Birkenfels Castle has no strategic value and its construction can only be explained by a desire of the Beger, a family of episcopal ministers, to materialize their membership of the nobility they must have envied. There are few documents on the castle and despite archaeological excavations carried out by ASAM, its history remains very imprecise. Excavations have shown a reorganization of the farmyard and the entrance defense system at the end of the 15th century. A fine monumental analysis suggests a fire of which no trace has been found either in the excavated parts or in the historical archives.


The site was not chosen by an accident. It holds a strategic location over the valley of the Bruche and an ancient Roman road that runs through it connection Champ du Feu and Mont Sainte- Odile. Berger family held Château du Birkenfels until 1532 when they sold it to the Mundolsheim family. New owners of the castle increase the size of Château du Birkenfels by adding lower portion of the fortress. Château du Birkenfels was abandoned shortly after the Thirty Years's War (1618- 48) that ravaged through the area. Today ruins of the castle are protected by the French Ministry of Culture (since the French Revolution). It was added to a list of historic monuments in 1984. It used to be used to monitor the old Roman road from Mont Sainte-Odile to the Champ du Feu and the Bruche valley.