Rouffach, Alsace

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Rouffach is a little town of 5,000 between Colmar (15kms) and Guebwiller (10kms) in the département of Haut-Rhin (Alsace). First mentioned in the 7th century, the old town of Rouffach boosts many historic monuments and houses. Today, the town is worth a stop along the Alsace Wine Route for a visit of its picturesque centre.


A bit of history

The first mentions of Rouffach date back to the 5th century where a Merovingian residence was built on the site of the Isenbourg Castle. During the Middle-Ages, Rouffach and its territory belonged to the bishopric of Strasbourg and the construction of a fortified wall contributed to the economic development of the city. To the bishop of Strasbourg, Rouffach was an important stronghold along the route from Colmar to Belfort.

The golden age of Rouffach was stopped by the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) which resulted in the annexation of the town by France.


The historic town centre of Rouffach

The narrow little streets of Rouffach are bordered with some fine houses from the 15th to the 17th centuries which once belonged to opulent and wealthy families.

Notre-Dame Church of Rouffach

Rouffach’s principal monuments include the Church of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption, built in yellow sandstone in Romanesque and Gothic styles. Its transept dates back to the 11th century while the Gothic nave is from the 12th century with Romanesque portals. The church’s façade features only one completed bell tower (56m high) – the second one was never finished. At the crossing of the transept rises another tower whose spire reaches 68 metres.

The old Corn Exchange, dating back to the 16th century, now houses the town’s historic museum.

The Gothic Maison de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame (from 1490) located on Place de la République (now a restaurant).

Next to it is the twin-gabled Renaissance façade of the former town-hall of Rouffach.

Also bordering the square is the new Renaissance-style Town-Hall of Rouffach, built in 1831.

The machicolated Witches’ Tower (Tour des Sorcières), was built in the 14th century. Covered with a four-sided roof and crowned with a stork’s nest, the tower was used as a prison until the 18th century.

The old Franciscan Convent of the Récollets (17th-18th centuries).

There are a few historic houses to discover in the old town of Rouffach, some of them half-timbered, other built in stone:

To the South of town, the Baroque-style chapel of the Rouffach hospital was built in 1910 at the time when the town was German.


The Isenbourg Castle and the vineyards of Rouffach

Overlooking the little town on top of a small hill covered with vineyards, the castle of Isenbourg houses a luxury hotel and restaurant. Before its reconstruction in the 19th century, it used to be the residence of King Dagobert II and his son Sigbert, and later the bishop of Strasbourg.

The vineyards of Rouffach are renowned for producing the Vorbourg Grand Cru, one of Alsace’s finest wines.


Read more about the region of Alsace.

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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations and a degree of Economics and Management.

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