The Alsace region has oscillated over time between the Germans and the French, but the German influence has left its mark on the architecture, cuisine or traditions.
Riquewihr is a small village in the Alsace area, included in the list of the most beautiful destinations in France. It is located approximately 10 km from Colmar, being surrounded by hills full of vineyards.
The road between Colmar and Riquewihr is spectacular, surrounded by vineyards, wonderful landscapes and centuries-old fortresses.
We stopped to admire the view at the Château du Hohlandsbourg, an old fortress dating back to 1281. The former castle was built on a mountain top, at an altitude of 600 meters and offers a magnificent panorama over Alsace and the Vosges mountains .
Over the last few years, the fortress has been restored and various cultural and historical events are sometimes organized in the courtyard.
After the small stop at the fortress, we continued our way to Riquewihr – a village that has kept its appearance unchanged over time, escaping the damage caused by the Second World War.
We entered Riquewihr through the gate of the old fortified walls and were immediately attracted by the medieval streets with the colorful houses dating back to the 16th century and the courtyards of those times that have a special charm and offer tourists an authentic experience, as about 400 years ago years.
The main street, Rue du Général-de-Gaulle, is lined with hotels, shops, wineries, restaurants, terraces and brightly colored houses with interesting architecture. All the houses here seem to be taken out of fairy tale books, and tourists don’t know what to photograph first.
At the end of the main street is the Dolder Gate and its 25 meter high tower – which was used in the past to watch over the village. Today it houses the History Museum where you will learn the history and evolution of Riquewihr.
Along with Colmar, Strasbourg and Mulhause, Riquewihr is part of the tourist route called the “Wine Route” that I told you about in the article about Colmar. Around eight different grape varieties are grown in Alsace, boasting a high quality wine production. So if you visit this wine region, you definitely have to taste at least one assortment of wine.
In addition to the wines, if you arrive in the Alsace area you must stop by the Maison Alsacienne de Biscuiterie. They have the best artisan sweets, they are fresh and delicious. You can try biscuits, cookies or macarons of all colors, with pistachio, chocolate, fruit or vanilla.
Shop windows are brightly colored, and the smell of freshly baked cakes attracts hundreds of gourmands and sweet lovers.
Just 30 minutes from Riquewihr is another well-known fortress – Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg – one of the symbols of Alsatian heritage and a witness to the course of European history, dating back to the Middle Ages.
It is a medieval castle located in a strategic area, on a rocky peak of the Vosges Mountains. The first documents attesting to the construction of a castle in this place mention the year 1147. Over time it was used by successive powers from the Middle Ages until 1633.
During the Thirty Years’ War in which Catholic forces fought against Protestants, the imperial castle was besieged by Protestant Swedish forces. After a 52-day siege, the castle was burned and looted.
For several hundred years it was abandoned, and the rivers were covered by forest. At the beginning of the 20th century it was renovated according to the orders of the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, and today it is an important tourist site that annually attracts more than 500,000 tourists from all over the world.
(Riquewihr – October 2019)