“Le Hunebourg”, a fascinating listed fortified castle with
its memorial keep dominating the North Vosges Regional Nature Park

Location

In the French department of Alsace, 45 minutes from the European capital and its airport, in a town just ten kilometres from a slip road for the A4 motorway. Standing in the North Vosges Regional Nature Park, classified as a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, this estate is in the midst of a vast forest, itself classified as a National Hunting and Wildlife Reserve.

Description

Hunebourg castle stands at an altitude of 410 m with a sandstone entablature dominating some fifteen continuous hectares of forest. Reached via forest roads, this location bestows it with an exceptional view over a sea of wooded hills. It comprises four buildings and a keep, all with French Historic Monument listing, standing within the perimeter wall of an old medieval fortress. Its name, which means “castle of the giants”, suggests that it was built in the very distant past. The land was, nevertheless, already occupied during the Roman era, as is proved by the discovery of medals during works, but the first fortress most probably dates from the Middle-Ages. In the 12th century, Hunebourg castle belonged to the Counts of Metz and Dabo; the younger sons that lived there then took the name of the Counts of Hunebourg. Burnt down, then restored and declared a fiefdom of the empire, it was reduced to ruins during the French Revolution, from which rose a square tower. In 1928, Frédéric-Spieser had the buildings reconstructed as they are today. Currently in use as a hotel-restaurant, having been completely restored in 1986, the premises comprise 31 bedrooms, each with 1 to 5 beds, and approx. 1,310 m² of useable floor space.
A carpark has been set out below the fortress. A ramp hewn out of the rock leads to the entrance porch way. Constructed on the side of the rock, miscellaneous buildings follow one another on a vast plateau converted into wooded parklands and a playing area, which provides a superb panoramic view over the forest. Seen from this side, the main building and its two levels of attic space looks to be of a reasonable size. The buildings, constructed using pink sandstone from the Vosges blend in with the rock from which the stone was extracted. Reconstructed in a Romanesque Revival style, they are topped with steep roofs covered with traditional Alsatian flat tiles, locally dubbed “biberschwanz”.

The main house and reception building

The main building comprises a ground floor, topped with three levels of attic space, two of which have been converted. A projection shelters a wide, sandstone-tiled entrance. This building adjoins another smaller one used for reception purposes, with a passageway and a staff changing room.


Ground floor
This level is predominantly taken up by a restaurant and a lounge. The large dining room has an exceptional view courtesy of three openings set in a wall, more than a metre thick. This room is heated via a large white ceramic wood-burning stove and an open fireplace. On one side, it provides access to the kitchens and staff areas. On the other side, it opens into a breakfast room, a bar and a large lounge where an impressive polychrome ceramic wood-burning stove or “kachelhoffen” takes pride of place. Decorated with hunting scenes and animal figures, it exudes a German air. Two stone stairways, one a spiral stairway, lead upstairs.
Basement
Partially hewn out of the rock, this level houses a suite, on one side, which looks out over the scenery via windows, with their window seats set in the thickness of the sandstone wall. A dark-coloured oak wood bed set in an alcove gives it a rustic touch. On the other side are miscellaneous utility rooms, reached directly from the kitchens: storerooms, wine cellars and a boiler room.
First floor
This level comprises seven bedrooms, a linen room and a small lounge-hall area. The large bedrooms are illuminated via windows set in the gable walls. The small bedrooms feature Alsatian-style roof dormers.
Second floor
This level has six bedrooms.

The second house

This building also spans a ground floor, topped with three levels of attic space, two of which are converted. It is linked to the main building via the perimeter wall, protected by a roof, under which is a laundry room. This building, of uniform appearance, has undergone three stages of construction, the two most recent having been carried out as part of its hotel and catering activity.


Ground floor
This floor, all on a level, comprises seven bedrooms, including a suite and a bedroom for disabled persons. The bedrooms in the old sections still have superb architectural features, giving them a unique character.
Basement
The basement houses a machine room, bathroom and toilet facilities and a conference room, opening directly on to the outside.
First floor
This level comprises seven bedrooms, including a suite.
Second floor
This level comprises three more bedrooms, including a suite.

The annex building

This annex building was constructed in the middle of the 20th century, at a time when the castle was used as a leisure property. Its architecture is similar to that of the two other buildings, but it spans a smaller floor surface area. The ground floor comprises a games room and a staff bedroom. Upstairs, a 2-storey flat comprising four rooms is used by the manager.

The keep

This keep was the last to be built in Alsace as it dates from 1938. The building stands on rock solely connected to the central area by the arch of a sandstone bridge. This latter leads to a main courtyard closed at the end by the pentagonal tower that follows the form of the rocky spur perfectly. Dubbed “Friedens-Turm” or “Tower of Peace”, it constitutes a memorial to the soldiers that died for their country as well as a sign of peace and friendship between people. The choice of a Romanesque Revival repertory, with its rustic Vosges pink sandstone masonry, gives it an austere, robust character. Three rooms, one on top of the other, are crowned with a roof terrace. The curtain wall in the main courtyard flanks stunning views of the surroundings.


Ground floor
A monumental, semi-circular arched door provides access to a sort of memorial chapel, a high-ceilinged room with a central pillar supporting the vault springing. The iconographic register of its decor hewn in the stone is particularly striking, with astral figures alternating with the signs of the zodiac. A spiral stairway, set in the thickness of the wall, leads to the upper floors.
First floor
This level comprises a single room with a cross-rib vault, the five ribs of which are supported on sculpted corbelling. It also features two mullioned windows and a fireplace.
Second floor
This second room, alone on the second floor, features a vault with ten ribs. The stone decor is also richly sculpted in this alcove bedroom which looks out over the scenery via five windows with window seats.
Terrace
The top floor of the 15 m high tower provides an exceptional 360° view over the scenery of the Vosges Regional Nature Park. The terrace, with its sandstone tiles, is encircled by a wide stone parapet, in which are set small bench seats.

Our opinion

Both the result and the victim of border disputes, this estate is currently set in the heart of Europe, courtesy not only of its site but also of its history as well as its trials and tribulations. This residence, very near to large urban areas and yet set in the midst of an immense forest, has a better view of the entire region than any other. It is also one of the very rare private fortified castles that can still be lived in throughout the Vosges forest on the Alsace plain. Of a reasonable size, the actual dwelling can very easily be lived in as a family home. Given the exceptional character of the site, its use as a hotel is, however, worthy of being enhanced and even developed: the walled grounds are big enough to take other facilities and conversions, also looking out over the horizon. Such a project is especially interesting as the asking price takes renovation works possibly aiming to improve standards largely into account.

1 290 000 €
Our fees are included in the stated sale price.

Reference 818760

Land registry surface area 17 ha 76 a 82 ca
Main building surface area 1310 m2

Regional representative

Jean-Christophe Brua       +33 1 42 84 80 85


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NB: The above information is not only the result of our visit to the property; it is also based on information provided by the current owner. It is by no means comprehensive or strictly accurate especially where surface areas and construction dates are concerned. We cannot, therefore, be held liable for any misrepresentation.


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