Turckheim – A day trip from Colmar (Alsace, France)

Categories: Travel reports, Europe, France

Just 6 kilometers west of Colmar, the small town of Turckheim lies at the foot of the Vosges Mountains, which here reach a maximum height of 840 meters. In contrast to Colmar, Turckheim is rather off the beaten tourist track – but is definitely worth a visit as well. Colorful half-timbered houses, historic city gates and walls, cobblestone streets and numerous vineyards characterize this city in Alsace. In our travel report, we take you on our tour of the charming little old town of Turckheim.

Turckheim header image

Things to know about Turckheim (Alsace)

Turckheim is a small town of about 3,800 inhabitants located in the Haut-Rhin department on the Alsace wine route. The city of Colmar is only about six kilometers away.

Based on the archaeological findings, it is assumed that the area around Turckheim was already inhabited in Roman times. In 1312 Turckheim became a free imperial town and in 1315 the construction of the town wall was started, which is still in excellent condition today. In 1354 the town already had the town privileges and the right to hold markets. Today Turckheim still has many half-timbered houses typical of Alsace and some German and French regions. Turckheim’s economic base is based not only on tourism but also on several wineries, such as the Cave de Turckheim, which produce excellent wines.

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Turckheim, Alsace, Aerial View, France

The city of Turckheim in Alsace

Free map with all the sightsh in the old town

The town of Turckheim is easy to explore on foot and on your own. Everything is quite compact and it took us about 2 hours to walk around the old town. A free map with all the sights and beautiful hiking trails in the adjacent vineyards can be downloaded here as a .pdf version.

Map, Old town of Turckheim

A map of the old town of Turckheim

The 3 city gates

The former fortifications of the old town of Turckheim were built in the 14th century in a triangular shape. The city wall and the moat in front of it were pierced by three gates that allowed entry into the city via drawbridges. The Porte de France, facing the Rhine plain, is the main entrance to the city and faces south. The Porte du Brand to the east takes its name from the hill that overlooks it, and the Porte de Munster faces west toward the Munster Valley.

Today you can get to the old town via many different routes. But, of course, the most beautiful is still to go through one of the three old city gates. We started our tour from the southern main gate “Porte de France”. We were able to park our car right next to it in a larger parking lot on the Place de la Republique for free.

La Porte de France (Lower Gate): Built in 1330, Turckheim’s main gate used to serve essentially as a place for trade in goods with the “foreigners” – especially Switzerland. The main gate consisted of a drawbridge with bars and two gate wings, which were closed at night by the night watchman with the ringing of the evening bells and opened again in the morning after the ringing of the morning bells. On Sundays the gate remained closed during the big fair.

La Porte de Munster (Upper Gate): The Munster Gate was built in the 14th century and has a moving history behind it: through this gate, those condemned to death and tortured were led from the city to the place of execution, the Wann. In addition, 26 witches were burned here in the years from 1572 to 1626. Besides this murderous component in earlier times, there are also other functions: On the one hand, the scallops, which can be seen on the tower windows, symbolize a stage of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Furthermore, the Upper Gate was also used to report thunderstorms, as shown by the bell in the bell tower, which is still undestroyed today. By the way, the tower was inhabited until 1952.

La Porte du Brand (Oil Gate): Of the three gates surrounding Turckheim, the Brand Gate, completed in 1377, had the most important defensive role. This is shown by its massive architecture (without any ornamentation) and the well-preserved moat. The gate at that time consisted of a lattice, a drawbridge over the moat and two gate wings, which were always closed on Sundays.

The city center – Place Turenne

If you enter the old town of Turckheim via the city gate Porte de France, you come quite quickly to the former market place, the Place Turenne. Here you can find many beautiful and very well restored houses, like the main guardhouse (Corps de Garde), in front of which there is a worth seeing 18th century fountain with a figure of the Virgin Mary. The tourist information is also located here. At the fountain, the night watchman begins his tour every evening at 10 pm from May 1 to October 31. The profession of night watchman has a centuries-old tradition in Turckheim: it was he who always gave the citizens the advice “Han sori zu Fir und Liacht” (Have concern for fire and light) to avoid fires that can be caused by a forgotten candle or a poorly monitored fireplace fire. With the increasing electrification, the profession of night watchman gradually died out. In 1953, it was decided to bring the night watchman figure and his stories back to life as part of a night watchman tour – much to the delight of visitors.

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Leaving the Hauptwache to the right, you come to a small city garden, at the far end of which is the City Hall (Hôtel de Ville), built in 1595. We especially liked the Renaissance gable and the windows decorated with flowers. The town hall used to be the court seat of the old imperial city. Unfortunately, the associated stable and annexes were destroyed in 1860. During a later restoration, two Gothic and one Romanesque wall were discovered. Particularly impressive is also the inn to the two keys (Hôtel des deux-clefs), which is located diagonally opposite the town hall. It has a bay window decorated with carved figures with beautiful bull’s-eye windows, which rests on a stone column.

Behind the town hall, directly on the Place de l’Église, is the church of St-Anne, which dates from 1837. It was built on the foundations of an old chapel from 1190, of which you can still see some remains.

A walking tour through the old town

From Place Turenne we walked the recommended touristic walk through the old town – exactly as it is described on the city map. According to the map, the discovery tour has a length of 2 kilometers and it takes about 50 minutes. But since we stopped at almost every corner, it took us a little longer 😉 There are simply far too many beautiful old half-timbered houses and ornate alleys to see here – and accordingly, of course, countless photo motifs.

When we visited Turckheim on a weekday, there was very little going on in the little town, so we were able to stroll through the streets in a very relaxed manner. At peak times or during the vacations, however, is certainly much busier here, so we recommend best early in the morning or late in the afternoon to be here to escape the tourist crowds something.

We really liked Turckheim and definitely recommend a day trip from Colmar. It’s worth it!

The most beautiful Alsace Villages (France)

Half-timbered towns, wine villages, castles, medieval city walls and tarte flambée... we spent a few days in Alsace, France. Here you can find our travelogues of some of the most beautiful towns in the region.
Alsace Villages » Strasbourg - Tourist Attractions, Things to Do & Photo spots
» Colmar - Top 15 sights in the old town
» Kaysersberg – Sights, Old Town & Castle
» Riquewihr - One of the most beautiful villages in France
» Eguisheim - Top sights of the medieval town
» Turckheim - A day trip from Colmar
» Ribeauvillé – Top Sights & Photo Spots
» Neuf-Brisach - own and Fortress (UNESCO World Heritage)