Situated on the ‘Route des Vins’, between vineyards and mountains, Ribeauvillé is a charming town which has successfully capitalized on its heritage.
In the Middle Ages, the town was the seat of the Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre - the Lords of Ribeaupierre (whence the town’s name of Ribeauvillé).
The Ribeaupierres built 3 fortified castles, the ruins of which still majestically dominate the town and surrounding hills to this day.
All three are accessible via a hiking footpath, on the mountainside:
- the Saint Ulrich castle (the oldest and the most important of the 3 castles)
- the Girsberg castle
- the Haut-Ribeaupierre castle, (as its name suggests, is the highest of the 3 castles).
From its medieval fortifications, the town has preserved a part of its town walls and some of its defensive towers, among them is the « Tour des Bouchers » (Butchers’ tower) (dating back to the 13th century, rebuilt in the 18th century), whose name comes from the Butchers’ corporate body (in charge of the defense of the town from this tower, in case of attack).The « Grand’rue » (Main street) and its picturesque neighborhood, edged with buildings (dating back to the 15th and 18th century), are lined with squares adorned with Renaissance style fountains.
There are many buildings worth a visit :
- the ‘Hôtel de Ville’ or town hall (18th siècle) and its prestigious collection of silver goblets (drinking cups), given to the town by the Comtes de Ribeaupierre (the Counts of Ribeaupierre),
- the “Tour des Bouchers » (butchers’ tower) (from the 13th century)
- the old Corn Exchange, an old storehouse
- the ‘Maison des Ménétriers’ - or house of the fiddlers (a house with a uniquely decorated façade dating back to 1683), etc.
The town’s calendar of events is governed by the rhythm of many festivals, among them is the «Pfifferdaj » (Fiddlers’ Festival) that perpetuates the memory of the meeting of the fiddlers’ brotherhood who gathered since 1481 in Ribeauvillé in order to elect their king . This festival, the oldest festival of Alsace, that alternates floats presentation and brass-band (according to a theme linked with the medieval era that changes every year) is still celebrated today every first Sunday of September in Ribeauvillé.