|Department (No)||Bas-Rhin (67)|
|Inhabitants||231 (January 1, 2018)|
|Population density||25 inhabitants/km²|
Obersteinbach from northwest
Obersteinbach is a French commune with 231 inhabitants (as of 1 January 2018) in the canton of Reichshoffen in the Bas-Rhin department in the Grand Est region (Alsace until 2015). It is part of the Northern Vosges Nature Park.
Obersteinbach is situated on the northern edge of Alsace, about five kilometres east of the border with Lorraine in the valley of the Steinbach, a tributary of the Sauer. It is surrounded by the forests and red sandstone rocks in the Northern Vosges(Forêt Domaniale de Steinbach). This landscape formation forms a unit with the southern Pfälzerwald on the German side and is also called Wasgau.
Obersteinbach is a street village with half-timbered houses along the Chaussee.
The village of Obersteinbach was located in the Amt Lemberg of the County of Zweibrücken-Bitsch and there in the Amtsschultheisserei Obersteinbach of the same name. The village of Obersteinbach included Frauener Hof and Fischbach. Both belonged together to the respective sovereign of the office of Lemberg and the Bishop of Speyer.
Early modern period
In 1570, Count Jakob von Zweibrücken-Bitsch (* 1510; † 1570) died as the last male member of his family. The office of Lemberg was inherited by his daughter, Ludovica Margaretha of Zweibrücken-Bitsch, who was married to the (hereditary) Count Philipp (V.) of Hanau-Lichtenberg. Her father-in-law, Count Philipp IV of Hanau-Lichtenberg, by immediately introducing the Lutheran confession, gave the strictly Roman Catholic Duke Charles III of Lorraine the opportunity to intervene militarily, since the latter possessed feudal sovereignty over the Lordship of Bitsch, which also belonged to the inheritance. In July 1572, troops from Lorraine occupied the county. Since Philip IV was no match for the Lorraine superiority, he chose legal action. In the subsequent trial before the Imperial Chamber Court, Lorraine was able to prevail with regard to the dominion of Bitsch, but the office of Lemberg – and thus also Obersteinbach – was awarded to the county of Hanau-Lichtenberg. The treaty that ended the dispute also contained a passage that guaranteed Catholics the free exercise of their faith in Obersteinbach.
In 1736 Count Johann Reinhard III, the last male representative of the House of Hanau, died. Due to the marriage of his only daughter, Charlotte (* 1700; † 1726), with the hereditary prince Ludwig (VIII.) (* 1691; † 1768) of Hesse-Darmstadt the county Hanau-Lichtenberg fell to there.
In the course of the French Revolution, the part of the county of Hanau-Lichtenberg on the left bank of the Rhine – and thus also the office of Lemberg and Obersteinbach – fell to France in 1794. Due to the border demarcation in the Second Peace of Paris in 1815, it belonged to the Kingdom of Bavaria and there to the Rhine District. For France, the demarcation of the border was problematic, since the way between the French fortresses Bitsch and Weißenburg led through Bavarian territory. In the border convention between Bavaria and France, Bavaria ceded Nieder- and Obersteinbach to France in 1825.
Culture and sights
- Numerous rock castles carved into the sandstone surround Obersteinbach. The most important of these is the Wasigenstein to the north, dating from the beginning of the 12th century. This castle is the setting for the Waltharilied. Not far from it, directly on the German border on the Maimont, are so-called sacrificial bowls, which from today’s perspective, however, are the result of natural weathering. Also dating from the 12th century are the ruins of Lützelhardt Castle to the west of the village. The ruins of Klein-Arnsberg Castle are somewhat younger.
- The Roman Catholic parish church of St. Martin dates from 1804 (date above the lintel). A previous building (documented since 1371) was destroyed in the course of the French Revolution in 1789. The present building stands on a cruciform ground plan with round-arched windows, oculi in the gable field and a slate-roofed onion tower.
- The Protestant church stands on a rectangular ground plan and has segmental arch windows, east gable in half-timbering and a bell tower with a pointed helmet. It was built in 1787 under Landgrave Ludwig IX (Hesse-Darmstadt). His monogram is emblazoned above the lintel.
- Museum of the history of the castles in the Steinbach valley.
Leisure and tourism
The Vosges Club has marked many hiking trails in the surrounding area, which also lead to all the castle ruins and picturesque rocks. There are places to stop for refreshments and overnight stays in Obersteinbach.
The village lies on the D3 departmental road, the D35, which comes from Bitche and runs parallel to the French-German border in a west-east direction to Wissembourg.
- Friedrich Knöpp: Territorial inventory of the county Hanau-Lichtenberg hessen-darmstädtischen Anteils. The first part of the book was published in the German language.
- Alfred Matt: Bailliages, prévôté et fiefs ayant fait partie de la Seigneurie de Lichtenberg, du Comté de Hanau-Lichtenberg, du Landgraviat de Hesse-Darmstadt. In: Société d’Histoire et d’Archaeologie de Saverne et Environs (ed.): Cinquième centenaire de la création du Comté de Hanau-Lichtenberg 1480 – 1980 = Pays d’Alsace 111/112 (2, 3 / 1980), pp. 7-9.
- Le Patrimoine des Communes du Bas-Rhin. Flohic Editions, vol. 2, Charenton-le-Pont 1999, ISBN 2-84234-055-8, pp. 1585-1586.
– Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
- Knöpp, p. 10; Matt, p. 9
- Knöpp, p. 10f
- Fritz Claus: Maria Rosenberg. Legend, Saga and History . 3. Auflage, Edenkoben 1911, p. 334