2 nights
from € 149,--  p.P.

A place full of history and tradition

Marie Antoinette, Goethe, Napoleon III were once guests ... The Hofgut could tell a lot 

The list of illustrious guests at the Hofgut Sternen can be reeled off proudly. From Marie Antoinette, daughter of Empress Maria Theresa, to the prince of poets Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, to the French Emperor Napoleon III or the English novelist Anthony Trollope: They were all guests at the Hofgut Sternen back when the trail into the Höllental was nowhere near as easy-going as it is today.

When the Hofgut Sternen was still called "Wirtshaus unter der Steig", the Höllental was still yet to be developed as a path up into the Black Forest. Rather, the journey was accomplished by sometimes spectacular turns from Hinterzarten, coming down into the end of the former glacier valley. It looks quite rugged here. The Ravenna Gorge has several waterfalls to offer, and there are also the Bistenbach and Alpersbach streams, which cascade into waterfalls from the dark Black Forest.

Since the 12th century, the Falkensteige steep road, constructed by the noble family Zähringen, between Freiburg and Donaueschingen, has led through what is now called the Höllental - at that time, still referred to as the Falkensteiner Tal. Among other things, St. Oswald's Chapel, built in 1148, is a testament to the area of the Hofgut Sternen.

There was only a mule track, a cart trail, whose ascent meant perils for many people. In 1734, the leaders of the city of Freiburg called on the Further Austrian government to improve the road. Ultimately, in 1753, an arrangement for the Falkensteige was decided upon for a proper and traversable mercantile and postal route. The work was completed in the following two years.

Only a few years later, in May 1770, the great hour of the Hofgut Sternen struck. Marie Antoinette was on her way to Paris. She was to marry the French King Louis XVI. Of course, she didn't travel alone! It must have been a glorious spectacle, as the baroque splendour of 21 state coaches, 36 carriages and 450 horses unfolded. Marie Antoinette stopped at the old guesthouse - and still to this day, a stone that informed the future queen that it was still a three-hour journey to Freiburg can be seen by the road ...

The Hofgut has experienced many great moments in its history. Even Johann Wolfgang von Goethe stayed here. He vsistied the Höllental twice. Today, part of the Hofgut Sternen ensemble is named after him. In the Goethehaus, you can stay overnight in memory of this universal genius, and in a quite unique setting.

And why is the Höllental called the Höllental (Hell's Valley) today? When the French troops under General Moreau had to withdraw in 1796, it didn't come very easily to them in this area of the Black Forest. The Falkensteiner Tal went down in history as "Val d'enfer," or "Hell's Valley" - the Höllental. But it's not only the tribulation of the French troops that lent this spot its unflattering name. Already by 1691, Leopold I cursed when he referred to the narrowness of today's Hirschsprung pass as "hell", while reflecting on the defence of the Black Forest crossings.

Today, the Hofgut Sternen is ideally reached via the Höllental. In addition, since 1887, the Höllentalbahn railway has navigated the Ravenna Gorge. It is the steepest railway line in Germany and can now even can be mastered without the help of a gear drive.

The days of the stage coach driver are long gone. And when asked the travel time, no longer will anyone answer: "If nothing tears or breaks, we can probably be there in two hours, unless the lord wishes to stop off on the way a few times."

St. Oswald's Chapel

In 1148, St. Oswald's was dedicated as the first local parish church by the Bishop of Constance. The benediction provides the oldest recorded date for the settlement of the Falkenstein dominion.

Unfortunately, the Falkenstein family coat of arms, which was uncovered in 1950 during restoration work, can no longer be seen today. Around 1408, the Falkensteins, whose fortress had fallen to a nest of robber barons over time and was destroyed in 1390 by a Freiburg contingent, had to sell their manor piece by piece. The extensive property comprised mainly the area of the present Breitnau and Hinterzarten district. Successors to the Falkensteins "in the forest" were the lords Schnewlin von Landeck, the Freiherren (Barons) and later the imperial counts von Sickingen. But even after the successful relocation of individual settlers' holdings as early as around 1200, along with a parish up in the favourably located "Breite Au" ("broad meadow"), the Oswald Chapel that served as the subsidiary church at that time retained important rights, and church services for the entire Breitnau-Hinterzarten parish were held here regularly until 1798. The small cemetery that was used until 1863 and surrounds the old chapel is still recognisable today.

The goodwill of the Sickingen lordship was already apparent at the start of the 17th century owing to new church construction projects. Among others, St. Oswald's also benefited from this as a result of the baroque transformation in the year 1606, followed later by further modifications and augmentations.

Towards the end of the Second World War, St. Oswald's Chapel was damaged on a number of occasions by aerial bombing. It had to undergo a comprehensive renovation in 1950, during which only an incomplete building history of the church was able to be clarified. In 1980, a few figures of the main altar fell into the hands of unscrupulous church robbers. They were able to be found, but for security reasons are now replaced with copies.

Today more than ever, St. Oswald's Chapel is a beloved excursion destination. In summer 1998, it celebrated its 850th year of existence and is now used for Christmas Eve service, musical events and marriage ceremonies.




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