The Renaissance building

A palatial residence dating back to 1582, right next to the Alsatian vineyards!

Andlau and its Abbey

Andlau is a wine village in the Vosges foothills standing at one end of the Andlau river valley, from which it gets its name. With its vineyards, forests and castles, the village is a central point of the Alsace tourist trail.

Andlau possesses a rich and varied artistic heritage, represented in Romanesque architecture, fine half-timbered and stone Renaissance houses and a wealth of 18th-century art.

Vue générale d'Andlau ©ADAC

People have lived in Andlau since the Celtic era, but the village came into prominence with the foundation of the abbey for nuns in around 880 by Saint Richgard, the wife of Emperor Charles the Fat and daughter of Erchanger, the Count of Alsace. From 1288, the abbesses, who were the only ones to pronounce their final vows, were raised to the rank of Princesses of the Holy Empire. Canonesses wishing to enter the abbey were required to prove they had 16 noble ancestors.

Le village d’Andlau © Frantizek Zwardon


The Andlau family

The family was first mentioned in documents in 1141 as ministerials of the abbey, but it wasn’t until the late 13th and early 14th century that they achieved the status of Niederadel, or low nobility, then vassals of the abbey. In 1432, they were given permission by the abbess to fortify Andlau.
The seigneury of Andlau in the Late Middle Ages comprised the villages of Andlau, Valff, Itterswiller, Mittelbergheim, Zell, Stotzheim, Bernardvillé, Reichsfeld, Nothalten and Blienschwiller, which formed the original nucleus of the family’s possessions. They were awarded their fiefdom, which was contained within a fairly coherent territory in the region of Andlau, by the bishopric of Strasbourg, the Abbey of Andlau and the Empire. At the end of the 13th century and especially in the early 15th century, the Andlaus gained a footing in Upper Alsace (the regions of Wittenheim-Kingersheim and Hombourg/Petit-Landau). These possessions subsequently led to the family splitting into two branches, the Wittenheims and the Andlau-Hombourgs, each of which possessed a share of the Andlau segneurie, thereby testifying to the solidarity of the lineage around their original cradle. In 1432, the abbess gave the family permission to fortify Andlau. Little research has been carried out in recent times on the Andlau family and so what information we have remains dispersed and full of gaps. There are, however, a number of signs that point to the vibrancy, wealth, prestige and power of the lineage in the 16th and 17th centuries.


The residences of Andlau family up to the 16th century

By 1274, the Andlaus had built themselves the imposing mountainside fortress of Haut-Andlau (Hohandlau) looking over the eponymous village. A second fortress, Bas-Andlau (Niederandlau), was built in the village between 1334 and 1340. Niederandlau, in the eastern part of the village, seems to have been abandoned or fallen into ruins at an early stage. In the 16th century, as the castle was no longer able to provide a roof for the family, two mansions were built in the time of Alexander von Andlau (died in 1573) and his sons. The mansions were situated on either side of the Pfaffengasse (now rue du Docteur Stoltz), not far from the Oberthor gate, which led out of village, and followed the line of the abbey wall. The first, a half-timbered building now occupying 17 rue du Docteur Stoltz, was constructed in 1573 and occupied by Friedrich, the youngest son of Alexander, who died in 1622.




Mansion built in 1573 - 17, rue du Docteur Stoltz


The second mansion, larger than the first one, is today the Seigneurie and was built a decade or so later, on the other side of rue du Docteur Stoltz.


An aristocratic hotel, built in 1582/1583

This mansion was built in 1582/1583 by a member of the Andlau family on a piece of land bordered by the place de l’Hôtel de Ville to the east, rue de la Chaîne (Kettengasse) to the north and the bend formed by rue du Docteur Stoltz (formerly the Pfaffengasse) to the west and south. The building runs along rue du Docteur Stoltz, while a significant section of the eastern part of the land is occupied by a large courtyard and garden. The Seigneurie sits adjacent to the town hall, which replaced the old Rathaus in 1840. The square that stretches out in front of the town hall has been the setting for a weekly market ever since the Middle Ages. The courtyard to the south adjoined a salt shop (Salzkasten) and the town’s stables.
While the imposing mass of the Seigneurie dominates the surrounding buildings, its architecture had largely been ignored until 2008, which meant that it remained virtually unknown. The date of its construction, 1582, was known as it was engraved on the lintel of the spiral staircase in the centre of the main façade.



plan Andlau au Moyen Âge


Localisation hôtel de 1582


millésime 1582

The date ties in with the visible architectural features, which are of remarkable quality, such as the scroll gables, the polygonal tower housing a winding staircase, the richly decorated door and windows bearing traces of coloured decoration. Consistent in style, they illustrate how the building façades are in an outstanding state of repair and fine examples of the Rhine Renaissance style, which was a dominant feature of Alsatian architecture in the second half of the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries.

A second date, 1583, can be seen on a piece of timber on the first floor and was discovered during an archaeological survey. It can thus be safely assumed that the building was built in 1582/1583.



Our knowledge of what use the various floors of the building were put to is sparse indeed. In 1932, Émile Bécourt wrote that the ground floor was “as usual, taken up by cellars and storerooms”, while the first floor was “given over to reception apartments and state rooms”, the second to “living quarters”, while the section under the roof was used as an attic. The recent archaeological survey shows that Bécourt’s comments were mostly right.


La Seigneurie vue du sud


Who built the Seigneurie ?

While it is generally accepted that the Andlau mansion was built by a son of Alexander von Andlau, who died in 1573, we do not know who ordered the building of the Seigneurie. On the bas-relief tympanum above the door leading to the winding staircase, above the year, a woman stands holding the coats of arms of the owner of the building and his wife, with helmets and mantling. Unfortunately, the details have been effaced (probably during the French Revolution) and they do not help us identify the person who built the Seigneurie.

Armoiries de la tourelle d'escalier

The archaeological survey of the first floor does, however, give us a clue. A carved coat of arms of the Zorn family (gules with a star of 8 rays argent, fess or), associated with the letter Z (a first initial has been effaced) was found on a wooden bracket. The Zorn arms may well have been those which were effaced next to the Andlau arms, on the lintel of the entrance to the winding staircase.

Blason des Zorn

At least three of Alexander von Andlau’s sons married a Zorn. Johann married Maria Zorn von Bulach (at an unknown date), Hans Sebastien I (first appeared in records in 1573, died in 1599, buried in Niedermorschwihr), married his first wife, Klara Zorn von Bulach (before 1588 – his second wife, Maria Jakobe zu Rhein died in 1640) and Hans Ludwig IV (known as der Jüngere in 1575/1587 and subsequently der Ältere in 1593, died in 1641), who married his second wife, Maria Zorn von Plobsheim in 1602. As Hans Ludwig only married a Zorn in 1602, he could not have been the one to have ordered the building of the Andlau mansion. Until new information comes to light, the most likely candidates are Johann and Hans Sebastian, both of whom were potentially married to a Zorn von Bulach in 1582/83.


The Seigneurie up to the present day

Nothing is known of the history of the Seigneurie between the end of the 16th and 18th centuries. Mention was made of the building in the archives in 1777, when it passed out of the family’s ownership, bought by Joseph Antoine Kollmann from the heirs of Canon Joseph d’Andlau. It remained in the family until 1901, in the hands of Marie Louise Antoinette Geschwind née Kolmann, (before 1871) and then her heirs. In 1901, it was bought by the artist Marie Charles Rouge (1840-1916), who bequeathed it to her daughters, Antoinette and Eugénie Rouge (who died in 1948 and 1945 respectively).
Émile Bécourt records in 1932 that “this magnificent dwelling, which had become the Stammhaus of the Andlau family, had seen its interior completely change over the centuries; the arrangement of the rooms and their decoration had been continually altered to suit the changing tastes of the periods in question. There remain several handsome rooms, but with primitive decoration and all but 2 or 3 columns have been done away with, leaving a mullioned window with its stone benches set in the wall.”
The roof was damaged during the bombing in November 1944 and the frame was repaired in the immediate post-war period. Upon the death of Antoinette Rouge, the building was sold by auction on 29 November 1948 and bought by a local industrialist, Lucien Becht (1888-1970). The building was inhabited throughout the second half of the 20th century, during which time the cellar was converted into a room with reception and eating facilities. In 2005 the by-then uninhabited building was acquired by the Commune of Andlau for use as a heritage interpretation centre. This was the beginning of the Seigneurie and its studios.