Our hotel and restaurant is located in the southern part of the Black Forest, not far from the Feldberg mountain. The tallest German mountain outside of the Alps overlooks its surroundings at 1,493 metres above sea level.
Various discoveries nearby suggest that Neolithic people lived in the area, including at locations such as the Schluchsee. There is also evidence of the Romans — who had settlements in the Rhine Rift Valley and the Baar region — having traversed the Black Forest on paved roads. Back then, they referred to the region as “marciana silva”, or border forest.
However, it wasn’t until much later that a population settled permanently, with people converging from the western valleys (St. Trudpert’s Abbey in the 9th century and St. Blaise Abbey in 948) and from the Baar plateau in the east (Rötenbach in 819).
The original dense mixed coniferous forest was cleared and used to host fiefdoms granted by the abbeys, which in turn evolved into settlements and villages.
This gave way to impressive Black Forest farms, whose inhabitants were able to live self-sufficiently. Many of these large, long-roofed houses with smaller annexes are still standing in secluded valleys today.
By the mid-19th century, intensive land use had almost completely cleared the Black Forest, leading the Grand Duchy of Baden’s forest administration to head up an extensive reforestation programme using fast-growing spruce trees. This was the origin of the image we now have in our mind’s eye of a dense, fir-covered forest. Advertising and Heimatfilme — German-language films with a rural setting — have helped to reinforce the picture.
Today, the Black Forest is one of Germany’s major tourist destinations, boasting over 21 million overnight stays per year. Away from the more famous sights, there are still many spots that are as pristine and quiet as they have always been.