The history of Heidelberg
& the Hirschgasse

Living history...

Living history



In 1472 the Hirschgasse was first mentioned in a romantic Heidelberg love story, posted in the town's chronicle. As a luxurious hotel in Heidelberg, the more than 544-year-old traditional hotel, „Die Hirschgasse by Familie Kraft“ is managed with great attention to detail. It is not only the oldest Heidelberg hotel, but also the oldest former Mensurhaus in Germany. Graf von Bismarck was already dueling here and Mark Twain wrote about us in his book, while strolling through Europe, called „A tramp abroad“. Today, our romantic luxury suites have a rural ambience and charm that are fascinating by the interiour designer Laura Ashley - some of them with a view of the castle. Our little Hirschgasse valley was already spoken of in 1261, in connection with the former settlement of Dagersbach.

Historical timetable of Heidelberg


5500 BC

The oldest finds of ceramic on the Holy Mountain


600 BC

The Kelts show up within the Heidelberg area to occupy and fortify the Holy Mountain



Ludwig III (the younger) presents, two days before his death, the Holy Mountain to the monastery in Lorsch


The first mention of the monastery St. Michaels on the Holy Mountain (“Basilica… in monte nominatur abrahe mons in honore sancti michahelis”)


Dabobert I. (*603, † 639), king of the Franconians (629-639), was the real last foreign Merovingian.


Tomb stone of the grave with the crest of the Welfen in Steingarden. In 1155, on the Imperial Day in Worms, Conrad, the half-brother of Frederic I. Barbarossa, received the status of a palatinate. Conrad died in 1195. The first mentioning of Heidelberg ever recorded was during his burial, in 1196. The heritage was passed on, through his daughter Agnes, to his son in law Heinrich I. the elder.


At the beginning of the Hirschgasse, located on the eastern side, was once an estate from the Nunnery in Lobenfeld. This was confirmed by the rural area of Lobenfeld. From a document dating back to 1261, it is evident that the former settlement of Dagersbach had an estate as well. In that year, court was held, in connection with a dispute over the estate. It ended with the family of the Ingram, living in Wieblingen (now part of Heidelberg), relinquishing the levy from the owners of this Wieblingen estate. The village of Dagersbach also served as a way for the people from the Neckar valley, going on a pilgrimage on their way to the cloisters of the Holy Mountain.


Was the founding of the University Heidelberg through palatinate Ruprecht I.


On June 24th Heidelberg students climb the Holy Mountain to watch the comet Halley.


Johann von Soest, a singer, poet and doctor at the court of Philip the Earnest, was standing on the Old Bridge in deep contemplation when Mrs. Hechtin and her son Melcher passed by, accompanied by her daughter, who was just eighteen. Dazzled by the beauty of the daughter, Johann instantly accepted the invitation from Melcher to “come and partake in beer and wine in our beautiful garden “Tarsbach”, which is just now coming into bloom.” On the same day the daughter agreed to his hand in marriage and he received the blessing of his future mother in law.


On October 12th Christoph Columbus set foot on the Bahama island of San Salvador and later to the coast of Middle America.


A time of flourishing growth ensues for Heidelberg and the Kurpfalz region. The castle is fortified and extended by Ludwig V after 1530.


The Heidelberg innkeeper and Lord Major Heinrich Eckart create, on the estate of the Hirschgasse, a garden with a pavilion and a carp pond.

1618 / 1622

The beginning of the Thirty Year war. The theft of the world famous Bibliotheca Palatina, taken by General Tilly and given to Pope Gregory XV in Rome.


During the Palatinate Wars of Succession was the rapid restoration of Heidelberg. However, this was all to no avail, as Ludwig XIV's troops from France, under the general Melac, plundered and raided the town and castle once again to ruins.


Start of the French Revolution.


In 1790, around the beginning of the French revolution, Georg Ditteney acquired the premises of the Hirschgasse and built a large room designed to be a ballroom for the gregarious Heidelberg Citizens. This period also sheds more light on the history of the guest house. Russian soldiers, temporarily quartering there, plundered it and forced the landlord to give them lodgings.


July 31st was the hanging of the robber gang “Wooden Lip” at the market square of Heidelberg. Members of this band of robbers with fearsome names such as “Wooden Lip” and “Black Peter” terrorized the area. Fearing revenge, after exposing one of their hiding places to the authorities, the landlord of the Hirschgasse could only feel safe at night with a loaded pistol by his side. This came in use however, when he managed to shoot a potential burglar off the window sill.


The founding of the Heidelberg fraternity, positioned in the garden of the Hirschgasse.


Mark twain visited the Hirschgasse several times to watch the student duels. He was very impressed and mentioned the Hirschgasse in his book “A tramp abroad”.


Death of the last son and future heir Fritz Dietz, with only 32 years of age. Only a few months later, the broken hearted mother Elisabeth Dietz followed him. In the year 1895 the Hirschgasse is handed over from the remaining daughters to an intermediate innkeeper. It was eventually sold in 1901 to the new owners, the family Zimmer.


The history of the Hirschgasse is published in Otto Petters Printing House of Heidelberg.


Premiere of the musical Student Prince from Siegfried Romberg on Broadway New York. With 608 performances it belongs to the most successful musicals in America. The story reminds one strongly on the love story of the Hirschgasse in the year 1472 – but our version had a happy end!


The laying of the foundation-stone on the “Thingstätte” on Holy Mountain. This Spectacular Amphitheatre holds up to 20.000 visitors, built by the national socialists. After long years in oblivion, it is now used for cultural highlights like, the three tenors and also favourite place for big Walpurgis-Night celebrations (cross quarter day may 1).


The opening of the “Reichs Autobahn Heidelberg” – Mannheim – Frankfurt by Adolf Hitler.


The old duelling hall burns down. The fire brigade could not drive up the iced-up road to the Hirschgasse and therefore had to drive over the Philosopher’s Walk. Only three years later, it was built up again in a more modest way.


The years of student’s protest and demonstration.


The Kraft family buys the Hirschgasse. The renovation sins made within the building from the previous owners committed in the sixties, will now be reversed. With a substantial investment, it will be turned into one of the leading country style hotels of Germany.


The last student duelling takes place in the duelling hall and ends with a massive party.


The Hirschgasse is handed down to the next generation by mother Anni Kraft. Ernest Kraft and his wife Allison lead the Hirschgasse now together into the next Millennium. Seen on picture with Stella, Emil, Harry, Emma and terrier Pepper.