Hirschhorn Castle

Hirschhorn Castle is the southernmost sight of the Hessian Castle Administration. The extensive complex, with its unmistakable silhouette of walls, gables and tower, is one of the most beautiful in the Neckar valley. The small, recently restored castle chapel is a romantic place for civil weddings.

At a glance

69434 Hirschhorn

Outdoor area freely accessible

A map of Hessen HESSEN


A ridge between the Neckar and Finkenbach valleys seemed to the Lords of Hirschhorn to be the ideal location for their castle – the place and sign of their rule in what is now the border region of Hesse and Baden-Württemberg. At first glance, the extensive castle complex hardly reveals that the inner bailey, consisting of a keep, narrow residential and farm buildings and a massive shield wall, occupied only about one-twelfth of today‘s area. It was built in the middle of the 13th century, when the Romanesque style slowly gave way to the Gothic style; for there are remains of both round-arched Romanesque and pointed-arched Gothic windows.

Good Revenues Enable Expansion

In the 14th century, the Lords of Hirschhorn began to expand their castle. They could afford it: Their lordship had extensive property and through influential offices at the court of the Count palatine, good money came into their coffers. In 1350, the castle chapel was consecrated, where civil marriages can be performed today. From its original time, the north wall still survives, on which the remains of a fresco depict scenes from the Passion of Christ, as told in the New Testament.

Hirschhorn Castle, prison tower

View over the defence walls of Hirschhorn to the prison tower of the castle.

Foto: Michael Leukel, 2021

Cosmos Castle

Hirschhorn, like most castles of the time, was its own little cosmos that kept growing. In addition to the knights and their families, gate and tower guards, hunters, grooms, shepherds, maids, servants, castle administrators and a clergyman also lived in the castle. In addition to the residential buildings, there were stables, stables and a barn (still partly preserved today) as well as a beer house, wash house, bakehouse, smithy, a building for storing game and a dog stable (no longer preserved).

With the extensions of the 16th century, the people of Hirschhorn gave their castle more and more the character of a representative castle. This included the gardens facing the Neckar with retaining walls, terraces and garden houses. Residential comfort also made its appearance: under Louis I von Hirschhorn (+1583) and his wife Maria von Hatzfeld, a magnificent building in the Renaissance style was erected, which is still called the Hatzfeldbau after its owner.

Hirschhorn Castle, lower castle

View of the lower castle gate and the surrounding wall with tower. The small building with the stepped gable served as a cattle shed.

Foto: Michael Leukel, 2021

Hirschhorn Castle with keep

View from the north with the keep, the ramparts and the upper castle gate.

Foto: Michael Leukel, 2021

Hirschhorn Castle, enclosure wall with shaft tower

The extensive castle complex of Hirschhorn was a small cosmos of its own, consisting of lordly families, guards and servants. The picture shows the southern tip of the enclosure wall with the shaft tower, on the right the stables.

Foto: Michael Leukel, 2021

Historic Preservation Brings History to Life

After the Hirschhorns died out, the castle and dominion passed to the Electorate of Mainz, and from 1803 they belonged to the Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt. The first restoration measures at the end of the 19th century secured the building, which had fallen into serious disrepair in the meantime. At the end of the 1950s, a hotel was established in Hirschhorn Castle. During the most recent comprehensive conservation work, the façade of the Hatzfeld building was authentically restored, and the Renaissance architectural paintings were brought back to life in the interior. Hirschhorn now presents itself again as a historical building that allows its visitors to experience the many facets of its construction and usage history.