Nestled in a haven of greenery, the village of Oberhaslach provides you with a rich blend of Christian mythology and pagan legends. Various histories, religions, architectures, influences and cultures from many places meet here. This suggested tour is an introduction to the visit of the village.
Some history: Evidence of ancient human occupation has been found through the unearthing of prehistoric vestiges, mostly weapons, in the region.
The place was an important crossroad under the Roman Empire. Funerary steles with bas relief, shaped like miniature rectangular houses, bear witness to that period. German tribes coined the name “Hassellach” for the village, which means “hazel wood enclosure near the Hasel River”.
The 5th century marks the beginning of Christianity. Florentius, son of the King of Ireland, was in the region with St. Arbogast and his companions, called the “Schotten”. Unlike his friends, he decided to stay in Alsace and became a hermit. The would-be saint came to be the protector of animals, before building a monastery and then a church: the current Collegiate Church of Niederhaslach. He would later be chosen as the seventh Bishop of Strasbourg.
A street still bears the name of “Schotten”, a moniker then given to all Anglo-Saxons. As for the name “Oberhaslach”, it appeared for the first time in a charter from 1216. The St. Florentius Chapel was built in 1315, where the hermitage once stood. Until the construction of the current St. Arbogast Church (between 1782 and 1784) and the presbytery in 1805, services took place in the Collegiate Church of Niederhaslach.
The houses, mostly made of stone (as was the case for most houses next to a quarry), feature an interesting mixture of architectural styles. There are low Vosgian dwellings, contiguous to small barns characterized by a gutter wall facing the street and a thin stretch of soil (the “usoir”), which had a practical purpose. Other houses are characteristic of the Alsatian plains or the Kochesberg, featuring large and beautiful doors; proof of the original owners’ wealth. They also boast quoins, and finely crafted door and window frames.
Another local sign of prosperity: a small window surrounded by two lintels, above the door. Several of these houses have been built during the 18th century. Swiss immigrants were the inspiration behind the “Schopf” (a type of barn), which was open on its lower side and attached to a house. Some surrounding villages were populated by Mennonites, who left for the United States.