Guirbaden Castle is the largest castle in Alsace in terms
of area (2 hectares with its outer walls). Unfortunately
it is not the most well preserved, as reinforcement work
has not been undertaken. The keep remains visible from all
around, reminding us of how the castle must have dominated
the surrounding area.
The first castle was
first mentioned in 1137, at the same time as the creation
of the Kloesterlé Chapel, with which it has close links.
It was stormed by Frederic II (Barbarossa) in 1162 and destroyed.
It was rebuilt between 1218 and 1226 under Frederic of Hohenstaufen
II and even enlarged and strengthened with the construction
of the "castrum novum" to the west of the original building.
Unfortunately, the castle could not stand up to the attacks
of the terrifying Swedish army (1632/33) during the Thirty
Years War, when Catholics and Protestants battled for religious
and politic domination. The castle burnt down on 14 September
1633 and again in 1652 when Lorrain troops attacked Alsace.
The fortifications were deliberately demolished with explosives
by French troops in 1657, presumably to prevent it being
used during a rebellion.
As a matter of fact
the numerous fortified towns in Alsace bear witness to this
tragic split. The tourist will be pleased to see that most
of the town in the area have mediaeval portals and remains
of protective walls. The nearest ones to Mollkirch are Mutzig,
Boersch, Rosheim and Molsheim.
The ruins of the Guirbaden
have not been protected as they should have been. Even a
part of the 13th century palace was dismantled and incorporated
into the ruins of the Ottrott Castles. The castle went into
private ownership, and the discord between the owner and
local authorities has prevented the necessary consolidation
work from being carried out. Even sculpted stones have been
stolen by individuals who prefer to make a profit out of
our historical heritage rather than leaving it where it
Nowadays the castle
has still something magic about it, only being accessible
on foot. A discovery trail has recently been opened up to
enable walkers to climb up to the Guirbaden from a purpose-built
car park to be found on the right-hand side as you come
out of Laubenheim on the Grendelbruch road. Various paths
lead to the Guirbaden. For those wanting to avoid the climb
there is a path from Grendelbruch, for keen walkers there
is another climbing directly from the Heiligenberg-Mollkirch
train station. There is also a path from the centre of the
village starting in rue du Rocher, first right after the