Above: View of Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg in Orschwiller, France

Four Favorite Castles in Alsace, France

Sandwiched between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine River — each a potential natural boundary — the Alsace region has bounced back and forth between France and other powers for centuries. The Holy Roman Empire owned the contested region for a time, and the tug of war continued when the empire consolidated into Germany. Between 1871 and 1945, Alsace switched hands no fewer than four times, finally becoming the French possession that it remains today.

It should come as no surprise then to see the ruins of castles in every strategic location. Now that Alsace is a peaceful and prosperous wine region, the castles look picturesque, not intimidating. They punctuate a storybook landscape of forested hills, tidy vineyards and well-preserved half-timbered towns. Some castles draw lots of tourists, but others are quiet, even in summer.

On our recent visit to Alsace, we explored four contrasting castles in between wine tastings. Each one afforded memorable panoramas of the countryside and merited the effort — sometimes significant — to reach it.

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