The Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg in the Vosges mountains, Alsace, France
© Leonid Andronov/Shutterstoc
The mountain fortress of Alsace. The castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg, Alsace
This snowy medieval castle, built in the 12th century, can be found in the Vosges mountains in Alsace, strategically located near France's border with Germany. The chateau of Haut-Koenigsbourg has played host to many conflicts between lords, kings and emperors over the centuries. Passing through its gates is to pass into history: the drawbridges, weapons room, dungeons and cannons of this mountain fortress are reminders of its troubled past.
Built by a Germanic imperial family in the 12th century, it had a turbulent few centuries during which it was besieged, destroyed, looted, rebuilt and enlarged before finally being abandoned in the 1630s. Fast forward to 1871 and the castle would be bequeathed to the German emperor Wilhelm II of Hohenzollern when the region was annexed by the German Empire. Wilhelm saw it as a symbolic marker for the western limit of his new empire and had the castle meticulously restored - it opened to the public in 1908. Alsace would become French territory once again after World War One.