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Soultzmatt (Municipality, Haut-Rhin, France)

Last modified: 2021-04-24 by ivan sache
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Flag of Soultzmatt - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 20 October 2020

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Presentation of Soultzmatt

The municipality of Soultzmatt (2,402 inhabitants in 2018; 1,957 ha; municipal website) is located half distance (25 km) south of Colmar and Mulhouse. The municipality is composed of the villages of Soultzmatt and Wintzfelden.

Soultzmatt was first mentioned in 1044 in a charter issued by the bishops of Strasbourg. The village's name might refer to a salty source ("Sulz", "salt") gushing forth in a meadow ("Matte", "a meadow").
In the Middle Ages, Soultzmat, part of the Obermundat of the bishops of Strasbourg, was the seat of the Talgemeinde (Valley Community) grouping the villages of the valley of Ohmbach. Several noble families lived in the village, therefore the nickname of Vallis praenobilis (Noble Valley) given to the valley. Seven castles were built in the valley, of which only the Wangenbourg is still standing.
After the French Revolution, the Talgemeinde was suppressed and the villages granted the municipal status. Wintzfelden remained a part of Soultzmatt.
The iron mine exploited since the 18th century in the Kaltebach valley was abandoned in 1828 because of the ore's low quality and of the cost of transport to Bitschwiller smelting furnace.
Established in the early 19th century, the Soultzmatt clothmill employed 670 workers in 1900, to be closed in 1979.

The Soultzmatt sources were first mentioend in 1272 by an Alsatian monk. In 1617, the bishop of Strasbourg ordered to exploitation of five sources and the building of a spa. Louis Nessel, Mayor of Soultzmatt, revamped the sources and the spa in 1838; water was sold to France, Switzerland and Germany. Selling of water from the Nessel Source was allowed by Ministerial Decree, as recommanded by the Academy of Medicine. The sparkling Lisbeth water was inaugurated in 1922. Lisbeth (website) was elected France's best water in 2003, 2004 and 2008.
An average of 100,000 bottles is produced every day by 42 workers.

Soultzmatt and the neighboring village of Westhalten produce the Grand Cru Zinnkoepflé wines (website).
A document signed in 1183 by Pope Lucian III mentions vineyards owned by the Lautenbach chapter in Soultzmatt. In 1216, red wines from Soultzmatt were part of the tithe paid to the bishop of Strasbourg. The Zinigkôpflein hillside was listed on a map of the valley dated 1760. The place appeared under different names, for instance Sonnenkoepfle (Sun's Head). The name might have been derived from the celebration of a pagan cult on summer's solstice. Another etymology is related to the "small suns", the local name given to sun-dial-shaped crinoid fossils very common in the area.

Ivan Sache, 23 October 2020

Flag of Soultzmatt

The flag of Soultzmatt (photo), used as a forked vertical banner, is white with the municipal coat of arms, "Argent a rooster sable crested gules on a base vert".

The arms of Soultzmatt were granted on 20 July 1699, as registered in the Armorial Général (Town and Valley of Soulzmat, image). They are based on the seals used by Provosts Hannemann Haberer in 1404 and Hans Roeslin in 1431, and are also featured on the old chandelier of the Town Hall of Soulzmatt, dated 1578 (kept by the Unterlinden Museum in Colmar).
In 1978, the rooster was changed from proper to sable and gules because of the great number of variant arms used beforehand.
[Armorial des communes du Haut-Rhin]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 23 October 2020