A mélange of medieval Alsace

Three towns we toured today epitomized the amazing beauty and the pride that keeps these ancient communities so attractive to the rest of the world.

We began in the town of Sélestat, on market day. It was a royal residence in Carolingian times and became a free town of the Holy Roman Empire in the 13th century. In the 15th century it was the seat of a celebrated academy, founded by the humanist Rodolphus Agricola. Erasmus of Rotterdam was one of its students. We mostly studied the market, which – as always – was astonishing in its variety and quality.

Then it was on to the town of Riquewihr, a huge draw for its historical architecture. It is also known for the Riesling and other great wines produced in the village, which were being harvested all around us today. The town is said to look today more or less as it did in the 16th century. It is officially one of the most beautiful villages in France, so if the French government declares it to be so, it is. No arguments from us.

Our final stop was the town of Kayserberg. The high fortress that dominates the city serves as a reminder of both its strategic importance and its warlike past. Together with the rest of Alsace-Lorraine, Kaysersberg was part of Germany during the period between the Franco-Prussian War and WWI.

It is one of the finest wine growing areas in Alsace. The first vines were brought here in the 16th century from Hungary, and wine production is still an important aspect of the town’s economy today.It is also famous as the birthplace of Albert Schweitzer in 1875.

Another charming town in our trio of Alsatian jewels today.

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