Overlooking the Rhine Plain, Mont Sainte Odile Abbey is one of the most significant Catholic pilgrimage sites in Alsace besides the Strasbourg Cathedral. It was founded around the year 700 by Saint Odile, the patron saint of Alsace.
She was the daughter of the Alsatian Duke Etichon. Blind by birth, her father rebuked her and ordered her death. She was saved by her mother, who gave her to a nanny, allowing her to escape her father's wrath. Following an accident that cost the life of her brother, Sainte Odile's father repents and welcomes his daughter back into the family fold, even giving her castle Hohenbourg, situated on the site of the current abbey which she would subsequently have built.
The site is also famous for the Pagan Wall, a huge enclosure whose construction is still subject to debate today: was it a Gallic fortification or an administrative boundary of the abbey? Or an earlier spiritual sanctuary…? A very mysterious and intriguing endeavor.
For a guided tour audiophones are required and can be rented from the front desk, you will then discover the various buildings of the abbey, the church, and the tomb of St. Odile. From the terraces, the views of the Rhine valley and plain and the Vosges mountains are breathtaking!
If you wish, you can broaden the visit with a discovery of a portion of the Pagan Wall, located close to the abbey.