Tradition is timeless
ONCE A GUESTHOUSE, ALWAYS A HOFGUT
The Hofgut Sternen combines the traditions of the Black Forest/Schwarzwald like no other place. Today we are a hotel in the Ravennaschlucht Gorge. A 360° experience resort with guests from all over the world. Culinary hotspot and attraction. A place to celebrate, marvel and linger. In fact, it was (almost) always like that. The location in Höllental has always made the area a natural stopping place. Once, a carriage road led through the Höllental and many illustrious guests stood where we walk over the grass today. Marie-Antoinette stopped, Goethe was inspired and even Napoleon III was a guest.
If the walls of the Hofgut Sternen could speak, they would really have a lot to tell.
When Hofgut Sternen was still called “Wirtshaus unter der Steig”, the Höllental had to be developed as a route to the Black Forest. This happens with some spectacular hairpin bends coming from Hinterzarten down to the end of the valley. It looks rough and dark here, and the Ravenna Gorge has several waterfalls to offer.
From the 12th century, the Falkensteige between Freiburg and Donaueschingen led through what is now known as the Höllental, which was then called the “Falkensteiner Tal”. Among other things, the St. Oswald Chapel, built in 1148, bears witness to this.
The Falkensteige was a mule track, a cart path, the ascent of which harbours all kinds of dangers for people. Then, finally: In 1753 it was decided to extend the Falkensteige during two years – to make it a good and walkable freight and postal route.
FROM MARIE ANTOINETTE TO THE POET GOETHE
Just a few years later, in May 1770, Hofgut Sternen had its heyday. Marie Antoinette was on her way to Paris. She wanted to marry the French King Louis XVI. Of course she was not travelling alone: It must have been a wonderful spectacle to see the Baroque splendour of 21 coaches, 36 carriages and 450 horses moving through the Black Forest. Marie Antoinette stopped at the old inn. A waystone can still be found here today, which informed the future queen that Freiburg was still a three-hour drive away.
The Hofgut experienced many great moments in its history. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was also drawn to Höllental twice. Today part of the Hofgut Sternen ensemble is named after him: the historic GoetheHaus.
WHERE DID HÖLLENTAL GET ITS NAME?
When the French troops under General Moreau had to withdraw in 1796, it was not easy for them at this point in the Black Forest. The Falkensteiner Tal goes down in history as the “Val d'enfer” or “Hell Valley”. But it is not just the toil of French troops that gives this spot its unflattering name. As early as 1691, Leopold I cursed when he called the narrowness at today’s Hirschsprung “hell” while he was thinking about the defence of the Black Forest crossings.
Today, Hofgut Sternen can be easily reached via Höllental. Since 1887 the Höllental railway has also been running through the Ravenna Gorge. It is the steepest railway line in Germany and can now even be mastered without the help of a cogwheel drive.
The time of the stagecoach is long gone. And when asked about the travel time, no one answers any more: “If nothing snaps and breaks, we can probably be there in two hours, unless the Lord wishes to stop a few times along the way.”
ST. OSWALD CHAPEL FROM 1148
The oldest chapel in the Upper Black Forest is now on the grounds of Hofgut Sternen.
In 1148 St. Oswald was consecrated as the first parish church in the town by the bishop of Constance. The consecration provides the oldest documented date for the settlement of the Falkensteiner rule. Until 1798, church services were held regularly throughout the Breitnau-Hinterzarten parish. The small cemetery around the old church, which was used until 1863, can still be seen today. In 1606 the chapel was redesigned in the Baroque style, which was later modified and enlarged.
Towards the end of the Second World War, the St. Oswald Chapel was repeatedly damaged by aerial bombs and extensively renovated in 1950. In 1980 some figures of the main altar fell into the hands of unscrupulous church robbers. Although they could be found again, they were replaced by copies for security reasons.
The St. Oswald Chapel is now more than ever a popular destination. In the summer of 1998 it celebrated its 850th anniversary and is now used for Christmas services, musical events and weddings.