Ottrott Castles

The Ottrott Castles, locally known as Châteaux d'Ottrott, lie on a mountain west of the village with the same name, in the Bas-Rhin department in France. This area is also known as the Northern Alsace or the Middle Vosges.

The Ottrott Castles are two castles separated just some 50 m from each other. Rathsamhausen Castle is the west one and Lutzelbourg Castle the east one.

They were both preceded by an earlier, primitive castle, built before 1076 by the Counts of Éguisheim who were notaries of the nearby Mont Sainte-Odile Abbey. That first castle was destroyed by the Hohenstaufen dynasty in the early 12th century. They immediately had it rebuilt and gave it as a fief to Conrad von Lutzelbourg. In 1198 it was burned to the ground by the Counts of Éguisheim-Dabos.

In the beginning of the 13th century Rathsamhausen Castle was built, directly west of the site of the earlier castle, by Otto II, Count of Burgundy and a member of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, in order to take back control of the region.

Lutzelbourg Castle was built in the middle of the 13th century, just below Rathsamhausen, directly east of the earlier castle. It was probably built on the initiative of Heinrich II von Stahleck, Bishop of Strasbourg, who opposed the Imperialist owners of Rathsamhausen.

Being owned by 2 different powers the defenses of both castles were turned towards each other. And as a response to the building of Lutzelbourg Castle, a large round keep was added to Rathsamhausen. In 1250 however, the Hohenstaufen emperor died. His successor, Rudolf I of Germany, came to an agreement with the episcopal neighbour at the end of the 13th century which ended hostilities between the 2 castles.

By 1392 Lutzelbourg was described as a ruin and probably also Rathsamhausen was damaged. There are no historical texts to give a clue as to what had happened. In 1393 the Rathsamhausen-Ehenweier family became owners of both castles and rebuilt them in the early 15th century.

During the first half of the 16th century the castles were in the hands of the Mullenheim family who carried out important renovation works in Renaissance style. The entire castle complex was bought in 1557 by Conrad von Rathsamhausen from Caspar von Mullenheim.

During the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) the Ottrott Castles were looted and destroyed; they have remained a ruin ever since.

Since 2017 the castles, which are still private property, are cared for by a volunteer association which aims to excavate, partialy restore and consolidate the castle complex.

At present the Ottrott Castles can be visited but only for 2 days per week when the volunteers are present. They can only be reached on foot, a 10 min hike over a forest path from the nearest carpark. A great site, recommended.


Gallery

Rathsamhausen

Lutzelbourg

Ottrott Castles

The Ottrott Castles, locally known as Châteaux d'Ottrott, lie on a mountain west of the village with the same name, in the Bas-Rhin department in France. This area is also known as the Northern Alsace or the Middle Vosges.

The Ottrott Castles are two castles separated just some 50 m from each other. Rathsamhausen Castle is the west one and Lutzelbourg Castle the east one.

They were both preceded by an earlier, primitive castle, built before 1076 by the Counts of Éguisheim who were notaries of the nearby Mont Sainte-Odile Abbey. That first castle was destroyed by the Hohenstaufen dynasty in the early 12th century. They immediately had it rebuilt and gave it as a fief to Conrad von Lutzelbourg. In 1198 it was burned to the ground by the Counts of Éguisheim-Dabos.

In the beginning of the 13th century Rathsamhausen Castle was built, directly west of the site of the earlier castle, by Otto II, Count of Burgundy and a member of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, in order to take back control of the region.

Lutzelbourg Castle was built in the middle of the 13th century, just below Rathsamhausen, directly east of the earlier castle. It was probably built on the initiative of Heinrich II von Stahleck, Bishop of Strasbourg, who opposed the Imperialist owners of Rathsamhausen.

Being owned by 2 different powers the defenses of both castles were turned towards each other. And as a response to the building of Lutzelbourg Castle, a large round keep was added to Rathsamhausen. In 1250 however, the Hohenstaufen emperor died. His successor, Rudolf I of Germany, came to an agreement with the episcopal neighbour at the end of the 13th century which ended hostilities between the 2 castles.

By 1392 Lutzelbourg was described as a ruin and probably also Rathsamhausen was damaged. There are no historical texts to give a clue as to what had happened. In 1393 the Rathsamhausen-Ehenweier family became owners of both castles and rebuilt them in the early 15th century.

During the first half of the 16th century the castles were in the hands of the Mullenheim family who carried out important renovation works in Renaissance style. The entire castle complex was bought in 1557 by Conrad von Rathsamhausen from Caspar von Mullenheim.

During the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) the Ottrott Castles were looted and destroyed; they have remained a ruin ever since.

Since 2017 the castles, which are still private property, are cared for by a volunteer association which aims to excavate, partialy restore and consolidate the castle complex.

At present the Ottrott Castles can be visited but only for 2 days per week when the volunteers are present. They can only be reached on foot, a 10 min hike over a forest path from the nearest carpark. A great site, recommended.


Gallery

Rathsamhausen

Lutzelbourg