Wissembourg (French pronunciation: ​[visɑ̃buʁ]; South Franconian: Weisseburch, pronounced [ˈvaɪsəbʊʁç]; German: Weißenburg ) is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Grand Est in northeastern France.

It is situated on the little River Lauter close to the border between France and Germany approximately 60 km (37 mi) north of Strasbourg and 35 km (22 mi) west of Karlsruhe. Wissembourg is a sub-prefecture of the department. The name Wissembourg is a Gallicized version of Weißenburg (Weissenburg) in German meaning "white castle". The Latin place-name, sometimes used in ecclesiastical sources, is Sebusium.[2]

The town was annexed by France after 1648 but then incorporated into Germany in 1871. It was returned to France in 1919, but reincorporated back into Germany on 1940. After 1944 it again became French.

Wissembourg 3
Coat of arms of Wissembourg

Coat of arms
Location of Wissembourg
Wissembourg is located in France
Wissembourg is located in Grand Est
Coordinates: 49°02′N 7°57′E / 49.04°N 7.95°ECoordinates: 49°02′N 7°57′E / 49.04°N 7.95°E
RegionGrand Est
IntercommunalityPays de Wissembourg
 • Mayor (2014-2020) Christian Gliech
48.18 km2 (18.60 sq mi)
 • Density160/km2 (420/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
67544 /67160
Elevation133–527 m (436–1,729 ft)
(avg. 160 m or 520 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.


Maison du sel Wissembourg, Bas-Rhin, Alsace
Maison du sel Wissembourg

Weissenburg (later Wissembourg) Abbey, the Benedictine abbey around which the town has grown, was founded in the 7th century, perhaps under the patronage of Dagobert I. The abbey was supported by vast territories. Of the 11th-century buildings constructed under the direction of Abbot Samuel, only the Schartenturm and some moats remain. The town was fortified in the 13th century. The abbey church of Saint-Pierre et Paul erected in the same century under the direction of Abbot Edelin was secularized in the French Revolution and despoiled of its treasures; in 1803 it became the parish church, resulting in the largest parish church of Alsace, only exceeded in size by the cathedral of Strasbourg. At the abbey in the late 9th century the monk Otfried composed a gospel harmony, the first substantial work of verse in German.

In 1354 Charles IV made it one of the grouping of ten towns called the Décapole that survived annexation by France under Louis XIV in 1678 and was extinguished with the French Revolution. On 25 January 1677 a great fire destroyed many houses and the Hôtel de Ville; its replacement dates from 1741–52. Many early structures were spared: the Maison du Sel (1448), under its Alsatian pitched roof was the first hospital of the town. There are many 15th and 16th-century timber-frame houses, and parts of the walls and gateways of the town. The Maison de Stanislas was the retreat of Stanisław Leszczyński, ex-king of Poland, from 1719 to 1725, when the formal request arrived, 3 April 1725 asking for the hand of his daughter in marriage to Louis XV. The First Battle of Wissembourg took place near the town in 1793.

The “Lines of Wissembourg,” (French: Lignes de Wissembourg) (German: Weißenburger Linien) originally made by Villars in 1706, were famous. They were a line of works extending to Lauterbourg nine miles to the southeast. Like the fortifications of the town, only vestiges remain, although the city wall is still intact for stretches.[3] Austrian General von Wurmser succeeded in briefly capturing the lines in October 1793, but was defeated two months later by General Pichegru of the French Army and forced to retreat, along with the Prussians, across the Rhine River.[4]

Wissembourg formed the setting for the Romantic novel L’ami Fritz (1869) co-written by the team of Erckmann and Chatrian, which provided the material for Mascagni's opera L'Amico Fritz.

Another Battle of Wissembourg took place on 4 August 1870. It was the first battle of the Franco-Prussian War. The Prussians were nominally commanded by the Crown Prince Frederick, but ably directed by his Chief of Staff, General Leonhard Graf von Blumenthal. The French defeat allowed the Prussian army to move into France. The Geisberg monument commemorates the battle; the town's cemetery holds large numbers of soldiers, including the stately tomb of French general Abel Douay who was killed in combat.[5]


Historical population

Notable people

  • Otfrid of Weissenburg
  • Jean-Gotthard Grimmer, (1749–1820), pastor at Wissembourg then deputy to the National Convention on 10 ventôse year III (28 February 1795) to replace Philibert Simond.
  • Louis Moll, agronomist, born in Wissembourg in 1809 and died in 1880.
  • Joseph GuerberJoseph Guerber
  • Stanisław Leszczyński, king of Poland from 1704 to 1709, exiled in Wissembourg and lived from 1719 to 1725. The school in the city now bears his name.
  • Charles de Foucauld
  • Auguste Dreyfus
  • Jean Frédéric Wentzel, famous photos of Wissembourg
  • Jean-François Kornetzky, football goalkeeper
  • Martin Bucer (1491–1551) was a Protestant reformer based in Wissembourg/Strasbourg who influenced Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican doctrines and practices.
  • Drew Heissler aka Pokey LaFarge, is an American roots musician and songwriter. His family emigrated from Wissembourg/Alsace.
  • Jean-Pierre Hubert (1941–2006), a science-fiction writer.
  • Julie Velten Favre (1833–1896), philosopher and educator


Wissembourg abbey1 mod timm
Church of Saints-Pierre et Paul.
Imperial Abbey of Wissembourg

Reichsabtei Weißenburg (de)
Abbaye impériale de Wissembourg (fr)
7th century–1697
Coat of arms of Wissembourg
Coat of arms
StatusImperial Abbey, then Imperial Free City,
of the Holy Roman Empire
CapitalWeißenburg (Wissembourg)
Historical eraMiddle Ages, Early modern
• Established
7th century
• Raised to Imperial City
• Joined Décapole
• Décapole annexed
    by France
• Joined Imperial
    Council of Princes

Preceded by
Succeeded by
Duchy of Swabia
Early modern France

The town, set in a landscape of wheat fields, retains a former Augustinian convent (1279) with its large-scale Gothic church, now the parish of Saints-Pierre-et-Paul; other medieval churches are the Église Saint-Jean, and the Église Saint-Ulrich. Its Grenier aux Dîmes (tithe barn) belonging to the Abbey is 18th-century but an ancient foundation. Noteworthy houses are the medieval "Salt house", the Renaissance "House of l'Ami Fritz" and the Baroque City Hall, a work by Joseph Massol.

See also


  1. ^ "Populations légales 2016". INSEE. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  2. ^ Sebastian Franck, Germaniae Chronicon (Westermair 1538), p. CCCV verso. Jaucourt, L'Encylopédie, 1st ed. (1751), Vol. XVII, pp. 595–96.
  3. ^  Reynolds, Francis J., ed. (1921). "Wissembourg" . Collier's New Encyclopedia. New York: P.F. Collier & Son Company.
  4. ^ www.retrobibliotek.de
  5. ^ Murray, John (1886). Handbook for North Germany: from the Baltic to the Black Forest, and the Rhine. J.Murray. p. 382. Retrieved 2010-12-03.


External links

Arrondissement of Haguenau-Wissembourg

The arrondissement of Haguenau-Wissembourg is an arrondissement of France in the Bas-Rhin department in the Grand Est region. It was created at the 2015 arrondissements reform by the merger of the former arrondissements of Haguenau and Wissembourg. Several communes from the arrondissements of Strasbourg-Campagne and Saverne were added as well. It has 141 communes.

Arrondissement of Saverne

The arrondissement of Saverne is an arrondissement of France in the Bas-Rhin department in the Grand Est region. At the 2015 arrondissements reform it was expanded with several communes from the arrondissements of Strasbourg-Campagne, and some of its communes were reassigned to the arrondissements of Haguenau-Wissembourg and Molsheim. It has 162 communes.

Battle of Wissembourg (1870)

The Battle of Wissembourg or Battle of Weissenburg, the first of the Franco-Prussian War, was joined when three German army corps surprised the small French garrison at Wissembourg on 4 August 1870. The defenders, greatly outnumbered, fought stubbornly

... especially considering they were surprised and greatly outnumbered, that the French sustained their old renown as fighting men and that the first defeat, although severe, reflected no discredit on the soldiers of the 1st Corps."

before being overwhelmed; nevertheless, the fall of Wissembourg allowed the Prussian army to move into France and compelled Marshal Mac-Mahon to give battle, and suffer defeat, at the Battle of Wörth on 6 August.


Crœttwiller (German: Kröttweiler) is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Grand Est in north-eastern France.

First Battle of Wissembourg (1793)

In the First Battle of Wissembourg (13 October 1793) an Allied army commanded by Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser attacked the French Army of the Rhine under Jean Pascal Carlenc. After an ineffectual resistance, the French army abandoned its fortified line behind the Lauter River and retreated toward Strasbourg in confusion. This engagement of the War of the First Coalition occurred on the eastern border of France about 60 kilometres (37 mi) north of Strasbourg.

After the Siege of Mainz in which the Prussian army captured the city, the Army of the Rhine fell back into the Lines of Weissenburg, a position first fortified in 1706. Soon Wurmser with an army composed of troops from Habsburg Austria, French Royalists and allied German states began putting pressure on the Lines. Meanwhile, the French army organization was in disarray after two previous army commanders were arrested and sent to Paris prisons. Since no one wanted to lead the army, the representatives on mission appointed Carlenc, recently a lieutenant colonel of cavalry. After a series of skirmishes, Wurmser launched a successful assault. After the French retreat, the inept Carlenc was arrested and replaced in army command by Jean-Charles Pichegru. At the urging of the government, Pichegru began launching a series of attacks designed to recover the lost territory. These resulted in the battles of Froeschwiller and Second Wissembourg.

Hatten, Bas-Rhin

Hatten is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Grand Est in north-eastern France, some fifteen kilometres (nine miles) to the south of Wissembourg.


Hunspach is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Grand Est in north-eastern France.


Keffenach is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Grand Est in north-eastern France.

It lies a short distance to the south of Wissembourg, within the Palatinate Forest-North Vosges Biosphere Reserve.

Kutzenhausen, Bas-Rhin

Kutzenhausen is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Grand Est in north-eastern France.

Kutzenhausen lies 15 kilometres (9 mi) to the south of Wissembourg, but still within the Parc naturel régional des Vosges du Nord.


Neewiller-près-Lauterbourg (German: Nehweiler) is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Grand Est in north-eastern France.

Neustadt–Wissembourg railway

The Neustadt–Wissembourg railway, also called the Pfälzische Maximiliansbahn ("Palatine Maximilian Railway"), Maximiliansbahn or just the Maxbahn - is a railway line in southwestern Germany that runs from Neustadt an der Weinstrasse to Wissembourg (German: Weißenburg) in Alsace, France. The Palatine Maximilian Railway also included a branch (the Winden–Karlsruhe railway) from Winden via Wörth and the Maxaubahn to Karlsruhe.


Niederbronn-les-Bains (German: Bad Niederbronn) is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Grand Est in north-eastern France. It is positioned between Bitche and Wissembourg, close to the current frontier with Germany.

Niederbronn-les-Bains is part of the Northern Vosges Regional Natural Park. It has a tradition as a spa town, and continues to attract tourists and other visitors needing to recuperate.


Oberhoffen-lès-Wissembourg (German: Oberhoffen bei Weißenburg) is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Grand Est in north-eastern France.

It has the longest name of any commune in the Bas-Rhin department.


Oberlauterbach is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Grand Est in north-eastern France.


Rittershoffen is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Grand Est in north-eastern France.

Second Battle of Wissembourg (1793)

The Second Battle of Wissembourg from 26 December 1793 to 29 December 1793 saw an army of the First French Republic under General Lazare Hoche fight a series of clashes against an army of Austrians, Prussians, Bavarians, and Hessians led by General Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser. There were significant actions at Wœrth on 22 December and Geisberg on 26 and 27 December. In the end, the French forced their opponents to withdraw to the east bank of the Rhine River. The action occurred during the War of the First Coalition phase of the French Revolutionary Wars.

Trimbach, Bas-Rhin

Trimbach is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department of the Grand Est region of France. The village is located about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the German border.

Weissenburg Abbey, Alsace

Weissemburg Abbey (German: Kloster Weißenburg, French: L'abbaye de Wissembourg), also Wissembourg Abbey, is a former Benedictine abbey (1524–1789: collegiate church) in Wissembourg in Alsace, France.

Bas-Rhin Communes of the Bas-Rhin department
Founding cities
Other cities

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