Ribeauvillé is situated in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France. Its inhabitants are called Ribeauvillois. The picturesque town is located around 16 km north of Colmar and 75 km south of Strasbourg.
Known in the 8th century as Rathaldovilare, the town passed from the bishops of Basel to the lords of Rappoltstein, who were among the most famous nobles in Alsace. The lord of Rappoltstein was the king or protector of the wandering minstrels of the land, who purchased his protection by paying him a tax. When the family became extinct in 1673, this office of “king of the pipers” (Pfeiferkönig) passed to the counts palatine of Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld. The minstrels had a pilgrimage chapel near Rappoltsweiler, dedicated to their patron saint, Maria von Dusenbach, and here they held an annual feast on 8 September. Ribeauvillé was commonly known as Rappoltsweiler until the 19th century.
Ribeauvillé is in part surrounded by ancient walls, and has many picturesque medieval houses, and two old churches, of St Gregory and St Augustine, both fine Gothic buildings. The town hall contains a valuable collection of antiquities. The Carolabad, a saline spring with a temperature of 64 F., which had a great repute in the Middle Ages, was rediscovered in 1888, and made Rappoltsweiler a watering-place. Near the town are the ruins of three famous castles, Saint-Ulrich, Girsberg and Haut-Ribeaupierre, which formerly belonged to the lords of Ribeaupierre (or Rappoltstein).
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