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The Greifenstein Castle
and the St-Vitus Cave

The Greifenstein castle, in fact there are two castles, belonged to one of the eldest noble families of Alsace, the Lords of Greifenstein, who are mentioned as far back as 1165 at the Zürich tournament. Their castles dominate the Zorn Valley, at a distance of one hour walking from Saverne. It seems that the castles have been abandoned in the middle of the 16th century. Only two towers built on a rock bar and some fragments of the walls remain today. One of the tower has been restored so that its summit is now accessible.

The Greifenstein

If you go a little further on the heights, you'll arrive at an ancient hermitage: the St-Vitus Cave. St-Vitus was supposed to cure the victims of convulsions (the St Vitus's dance).

Under an enormous rock laying at the top of the mountain there is a cave, mentioned as far back as 1338. The cave hosts a chapel. At the top of the rock, you can find the ruins of another chapel. The cave was inhabited by a hermit. At the hermit's death, the city of Saverne named another one who took he's place. The hermit took an oath to the city. He had some rights (collecting thicket for example) but above all he had duties, such as: observing and alerting the city if some prowlers or soldiers were passing, maintaining a presence at the cave to open the chapel and to welcome the faithful, keeping up the chapel and the buildings.

Today, the parish priest of Saverne still celebrates one or two mass per year in the cave, generally followed by many people.

La grotte St-Vit

We will now go down into the Zorn Valley and go up again on the other side, in order to go to the Haberacker and to the ruins of the Ochsenstein Castle.

© Thierry Heitmann - 1998-99