Ortenbourg Castle lies west of the village of Scherwiller in the Bas-Rhin province in France. This area is also known as the Northern Alsace or the Middle Vosges.
The silhouette of Ortenbourg Castle rises up at the entrance of the Lièpvre valley, at the end of a granite peak of the Rittersberg mountain (443 meters high). The well known Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle can easily be seen from the castle.
The construction of Ortenbourg Castle is placed between 1260 and 1265. Its, 35 meters high, impressive pentagonal keep, which had 5 floors, is closely protected by a high curtain wall with lots of niched loopholes. The residential area, which occupies a large space, mainly dates to 1262-1265.
It's baillif; Otto d'Ochsenstein, was the administrator of the Alsatian properties of the royal Habsbourg family. After the death of king Rodolphe de Habsbourg the castle is kept in use by the new king; Adolphe of Nassau. In 1293, Otto has to hand the castle over to the Habsbourgs. To force him they besiege the castle. At great costs the Habsbourgs build a siege castle; Ramstein Castle as an advanced attack post, only a couple of hundred meters to the south. They regain control over Castle Ortenbourg in 1298.
In the 15th century, when the castle has become a den of outlawed knights, the castle is taken, in 1470, by the troops of the Duke of Burgundy. In 1474 the castle is restored in a joint undertaking by its owners and the town of Strasbourg.
From the 16th century the castle started to dilapidate as a result of a lack of maintenance, although it is inhabited until the beginning of the 17th century. In 1633 the Swedes set fire to the castle.
Ortenbourg Castle is definitely my favorite Alsatian castle. It presents some great military architecture, is on a beautiful location and has a great feel. A real must-see if you're in the area. Getting there will require quite a strenous, hour walk, up-hill.