The story of Freudeneck castle
The Freudeneck castle is located in the commune of Wangenbourg, in the hamlet of the same name, Freudeneck.
Since 2004, lovers of old stones have been working together in an association called "Scoutisme Nature et Patrimoine" (Nature and Heritage Scouting) to restore this little-known heritage, in the form of a "Chantier Jeunes Bénévoles" (Young Volunteers Workshop) in partnership with public bodies.
Over the last 20 years, the castle has been reborn thanks to the work of these motivated volunteers, who are breathing new life into this medieval edifice.
Freudeneck Castle was built in the second half of the 13th century at an altitude of 390m, overlooking the river Mossig.
The position is strategic: a crossroads with a road from Sarrebourg leading to Cosswiller and Wasselonne, and another leading to the Bischofslaeger, the Elmerforst and then to Balbronn and the Strada Régia (Roman road from the Rhine to Mainz). The castle controlled access and passage through this vast forest estate.
The castle was first mentioned in 1356. Here, we learn that the Wangen family, who lived in the building, ceded half of their fiefdom of Freudeneck to the Dickes, who subjected them to the authority of the Haffners of Wasselnhiem (now Wasselonne).
In 1373, the Wangens parted with the other half of the feud.
In 1408, the knight of Wilsperg (one of the castle's owners) came into conflict with the city of Strasbourg. Strasbourg troops laid siege to the castle, then set it on fire. It is said that Sire de Wilsperg left 2 men-at-arms and 4 peasants to guard the castle against a troop of over 100 soldiers... While he was taking refuge in Saverne!
Probably rebuilt, the castle was attacked again in 1450 by an army from the town of Obernai, when it had only a few defences left. This assault definitively destroyed both the ramparts and the buildings.
From a distance, this ruin looks like a rocky mass at the top of a small hill. Get up close and you'll be able to make out architectural features from medieval times. This castle was a fortification that watched over the valley and provided early warning of the nearby castle of Wangenbourg.
It was surrounded by a moat, a natural feature of the hillside. If you go around the ruin, you'll come across a wall with no opening, a blind wall, probably the outer rampart. The fortified gateway, probably preceded by a drawbridge, has disappeared. You have to climb up to reach the former bailey and what must have been the interior of the castle.
The ruins of the inner part sit on a solid rock. A thick keep stands at the centre of the building, round in shape with impressive rusticated stones. It is small and uninhabitable. It was a watchtower and a refuge in case of attack.
The keep was surrounded by a pentagonal building, sections of whose walls remain.
Recent excavations have uncovered a number of details, including the floor of a dwelling. However, there is still a lot of work to be done and a lot of earth to clear before the castle can be brought back to life.