Pflixbourg Castle - Alsace
Calling a castle "View Castle" - which is what the original German name for Pflixbourg translates to - seems only marginally less pointless than calling it "Castle Castle", given that castles were generally located in positions where they commanded the surrounding area. Although Pflixbourg is lower than its larger Five Chateaux Route neighbour Hohlandsbourg, its position in the forest of the Vosges mountains does indeed give it sweeping views across the lower Munster valley before it curls out of sight around the mountain towards Colmar.
There is evidence of Bronze Age activity in the area of Pflixbourg, but the current castle was built around 1212-1219 on the orders of The Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and granted in 1220 as a feudal property to one of his imperial ministers, Friedrich von Shauenburg. Between 1276 and 1297 Pflixbourg was the principal residence of Conrad Werner of Hattstatt, appointed imperial bailiff of Alsace by the first of the Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperors, Rudolf I. Although the castle became the residence of various different families, it remained in Hattstatt possession until 1434, when it was bought by the magnificently named Maximin I Smassmann von Rappoltstein, part of the Ribeaupierre family of Lords who were eventually to produce Maximilian Joseph, the Napoleonic King of Bavaria in 1806.
Badly damaged in 1440 during the tussle for control of central Alsace that occurred between the Ribeaupierre and Hattstatt families, Pflixbourg was abandoned and left to the mercy of the encroaching forest in the following centuries. Although some rescue work has been carried out, in 1864, 1983, and 2006, the site is still largely overgrown and is dominated by a 23m (75ft) closed tower enclosed by the remains of the surrounding castle walls. The castle is 'subtly' signposted off the Five Chateaux Route, with parking available just off the road and the site reached by a fairly easy walk of about 10 minutes or so. In fact the signposting was so subtle that Mrs Alamanicus parked too soon, and we enjoyed an extended walk to Pflixbourg that took us past the actual parking area for the castle. Mrs Alamanicus claimed genuine error, but after 'inadvertently' taking us up the alternate mountaineering route to the Three Towers earlier that same day, Fatty Alamanicus is beginning to suspect that Mrs Alamanicus is pursuing a secret weight loss agenda on his behalf.