Hirschhorn (Neckar)

Hirschhorn (Neckar)

Infobox Ort in Deutschland
Art = Stadt
image_photo = Hirschhorn in Winter 2005.jpg
Wappen = Wappen Hirschhorn Neckar.pnglat_deg = 49 |lat_min = 27 |lat_sec = 0
lon_deg = 8 |lon_min = 54 |lon_sec = 0
Lageplan =
Bundesland = Hessen
Regierungsbezirk = Darmstadt
Landkreis = Bergstraße
Höhe = 165
Fläche = 30.86
Einwohner = 3655
Stand = 2006-12-31
PLZ = 69430–69434
PLZ-alt = 6932
Vorwahl = 06272
Kfz = HP
Gemeindeschlüssel = 06 4 31 012
Gliederung = 3
Adresse = Hauptstr. 17
69434 Hirschhorn (Neckar)
Website = [http://www.hirschhorn.de/ www.hirschhorn.de]
Bürgermeister = Ute Stenger

Hirschhorn (Neckar) is a small town in the Bergstraße district in Hesse, Germany, and bears the nickname “Pearl of the Neckar valley”. Hirschhorn is a recognized recreation and open-air resort lying in the "Geo-Naturpark Bergstraße-Odenwald"



Hirschhorn lies at an oxbow in the Neckar roughly 19 km east of Heidelberg. The Neckar has dug itself into the Odenwald’s wooded heights here. Hirschhorn stretches all the way to the outlying centre of Ersheim along the Neckar’s right bank, and thereby north of the river. Ersheim has the distinction, however, of being the only bit of Hesse lying south of the Neckar. In Hirschhorn, two right-bank tributaries, the Ulfenbach and the Finkenbach, join to become the Laxbach before emptying into the Neckar.

Neighbouring communities

Hirschhorn borders in the north on the community of Heddesbach, the town of Eberbach (outlying centre of Brombach) (both in Rhein-Neckar-Kreis in Baden-Württemberg) and the community of Rothenberg (Odenwaldkreis), in the east on the town of Eberbach, in the south on the community of Schönbrunn (Rhein-Neckar-Kreis) and the town of Neckarsteinach, and in the west on the Michelbuch area, which is not within any municipality, and the towns of Neckarsteinach und Schönau (Rhein-Neckar-Kreis).

Constituent communities

Hirschhorn is made up of the following centres:
* Hirschhorn
* Ersheim, lying on the point of land in the oxbow in the Neckar on the south bank
* Langenthal in the Ulfenbach valley
* Unter-Hainbrunn
* Igelsbach, or more precisely the southwest half of the centre; the northeast half belongs to Eberbach.


Ersheim as the settlement’s origin

The oldest finds confirm that the area around the Hirschhorn oxbow in the Neckar was already settled by 6,000 years ago. Ersheim, the outlying centre lying on the tongue of land around which the Neckar flows, had its first documentary mention in the Lorsch codex in an endowment dated 773 (Lorsch Documents, no. 2624). The settlement, which in 1023 as "Erasam" belonged to a Lorsch daughter monastery, Michaelskloster on the Heiligenberg near Heidelberg, is among the Neckar valley’s oldest. While almost all of the surrounding countryside passed to the Bishopric of Worms in the 11th century, Ersheim stayed along with the village of Ramsau to the north in a Lorsch exclave. From this time forward there followed the founding of several clearing settlements, among them places such as Weidenau, Unter-Hainbrunn, Igelsbach and Krautlach, which were later largely forsaken again.

Town’s founding by the Lords of Hirschhorn

Hirschhorn, now the main centre lying on the other side of the Neckar southwest of Ersheim, gets its name from the charge in the coat of arms borne by the Lords of Hirschhorn, who built Hirschhorn Castle ("Burg Hirschhorn") about 1200 on what was originally land held in fief from the Lorsch Abbey. The fief’s chief lordship passed with the dissolution of the Imperial Abbey at Lorsch in1232 to the Archbishopric of Mainz. Engelhard I of Hirschhorn, whose existence between 1336 and 1361 is confirmed managed to gain influence and great holdings through pledges and Imperial fiefs. His son Engelhard II waged various feuds and fell under Imperial ban, though his sons could keep on adding to the family’s holdings. In 1391, Hirschhorn (Hirtzhorn) was girded with a town wall and granted town rights by King Wenceslaus, which were put in von Hirschhorn brothers Hans V’s, Albrecht’s and Eberhard’s hands. After Elector Palatine Ruprecht III was elected King, Hans V of Hirschhorn was entrusted with Imperial business beginning in 1400. The King endowed the right in 1404 to hold a weekly market. The oldest town seal dates from 25 July 1406. About this time, the lords also endowed the Carmelite monastery with the Carmelite Monastery Church of the Annunciation below the castle. In 1413, the first town expansion comes to light with the mention of the "Vorstadt" (nowadays understood in German to mean “suburb”). In 1417, the town received from King Sigismund the right to hold two yearly markets. The townsmen in the outlying villages that were under Hirschhorn’s authority sought the fortified town’s protection, forsaking the villages of Ersheim, Ramsau, Krautlach and Weidenau soon after Hirschhorn became a town. In Ersheim, the "Zigelhütte" built in 1553 was for centuries, next to the church there, the only estate.

Between 1522 and 1529, the Knights of Hischhorn converted to Protestantism, and after finding themselves at odds with the Carmelite monastery, this was dissolved in 1543. In 1556, a great town fire wrought devastation, especially in the so-called "Hinterstädtchen" (“Little Back Town”), which was almost utterly destroyed. In 1565, high water, which brought ice along with it, tore parts of the town wall down.

Downfall in the Thirty Years’ War

While the Peasants' War had no effect on the town, Hirschhorn underwent great changes in the Thirty Years' War. After the Lords of Hirschhorn died out with Friedrich III’s death in September 1632 – he had fled to Heilbronn to escape the war’s ravages – the castle and the town passed to the Archbishopric of Mainz, who then pledged the town, after the Swedish occupation had ended in 1636 to the Electoral Cologne court official Rudolf Raitz von Frentz, who in turn ruthlessly exploited the townsfolk, who had already landed in great hardship from the war, impoverishing them. Even the Carmelites moved back into their monastery. In 1635, after the war had already killed many, came the Plague, leading to a further great fall in the town’s population. The now barely inhabited town received new settlers from Palatinate, Electoral Mainz, the Electorate of Trier, Lorraine, the Tyrol and Switzerland after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. From 1676, Hirschhorn was pledged to the Westphalian baron Johann Wilhelm von der Reck.As of 1700, Electoral Mainz exercised its own hegemony. The town became the seat of an "Amtskellerei" (an administrative unit ) of the chief "Amt" of Starkenburg in Heppenheim.

Transfer to Hesse in 1803

In 1803, Hirschhorn passed to the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt, and the monastery was once again dissolved. From 1821 to 1832, Hirschhorn was the seat of its own district council ("Landrat") before passing to Heppenheim district, and for four years beginning in 1848 to Erbach district. In 1849 came warfare between the "Hanauer Turnerwehr", Baden "Freischärler" (militiamen of a kind) and Federal troops in and around the town in connection with the Revolution in Baden. In 1852, Hirschhorn passed to Lindenfels district and in 1856 back to Heppenheim district, which later became Bergstraße district.In 1841, the beginning of steamship traffic on the Neckar brought with it a definite upswing. In 1878, chain-driven shipping put an end to the unprofitable horse-drawn shipping, throwing the latter’s employees out of work, however. In 1879, the "Neckartalbahn" (railway) began operation, linking Hirschhorn to Heidelberg and Mosbach. The railway station, built outside the historical town core towards Neckarsteinach furnished the incentive for further building expansion in this direction. The weir on the Neckar with its lock and Neckar Bridge, which links Hirschhorn with Ersheim, was dedicated in 1933 and expanded to a double lock in 1959. The road link afforded by the bridge to the centuries-long forsaken Ersheim led in the 1930s to the building of a school and a few houses. In 1937, Hirschhorn was given the designation “(Neckar)” to add to its name.

Hirschhorn since the Second World War

After the Second World War ended, many evacuees and those driven out of the lost territories, mainly from the Sudetenland, were assigned to the town. By late 1946, there were about 400 evacuees and 415 refugees. The lack of room in the historical town meant that, especially in Ersheim, a great deal of building land would have to be opened up. By 1982, just under 1,000 dwellings had been built, and this former ghost village’s population nowadays exceeds the Old Town’s. In 1960, Hirschhorn was named an open-air resort ("Luftkurort"). The school expansion was finished in 1970. In 1972, the community of Langenthal became a constituent community of Hirschhorn. In 1976 came the beginning of work on the “Bridge-Tunnel-Bridge” project, which was finished in 1982, leading traffic on "Bundesstraße" 37 over a bypass away from town. In 1980 a sewage treatment plant was built, and in 1983 the sport hall on Jahnstraße was dedicated. The 100-year flood on the Neckar in 1993 left behind it much destruction.


The population is about evenly split between Evangelical and Catholic. A small Muslim group lives in town as well as some New Apostolic citizens.


Town council

The municipal election held on 26 March 2006 yielded the following results:


Mayor Ute Stenger (independent) was reëlected in the runoff election on 20 March 2005 with 54.9% of the vote. Her opponent Wolfgang Schilling (CDU) got 45.1%.

Coat of arms

The town’s arms might be described thus: Or a hart attired springing gules langued azure.

The antlered ("attired") hart suggests the town’s name, which means “Hart’s Horn”. Indeed, the town’s old overlords, the Lords of Hirschhorn, bore arms that showed an upright antler with five points. This old coat of arms is customarily still displayed on historic buildings in town.

Town partnerships

*flagicon|France Château-Landon, Seine-et-Marne, France since 1981

Culture and sightseeing


*The mediaeval "Burg Hirschhorn" (castle) stretches over the mountain ridge above the small town. In the walled castle defended by towers are a keep, a great hall, a stable and several gate and estate buildings.
*Below the castle is found the former Carmelite Monastery Church of the Annunciation, consecrated in 1406, with the "St.-Anna-Kapelle" (chapel) from 1513. The church is rich in mediaeval epitaphs of the Lords of Hirschhorn and boasts a Gothic sandstone rood screen. To the church’s right, the former monastery building is preserved.
*The "Pfarrkirche zur Unbefleckten Empfängnis Maria" (“Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception”) was built between 1628 and 1630 as a Lutheran church. In the course of the Counterreformation, it was closed in 1636 and in 1730 and 1731 converted into a Catholic church. The church uses as a steeple the considerably older gate tower of the former "Mitteltor" (“Middle Gate”) from 1392. Other remains of the town wall are preserved, among them the "Osttor" (“East Gate”), which was still used until 1830.
*The town’s third church is the "Evangelische Kirche" (“Evangelical Church”) at the end of Grabengasse, consecrated in 1892.
*Perched on a peak in the outlying centre of Ersheim, over on the other side of the Neckar is the "Ersheimer Kapelle" (chapel) which was mentioned in 773 in the Lorsch codex, and is said to be the Neckar valley’s oldest church building.
*Old timber-frame houses in the Old Town.
*Lock on the Neckar with bridge function


The "Langbeinmuseum" houses innkeeper Carl Langbein’s (1816-1881) collection of “natural and ancient” exhibits on Alleestraße at the corner of Grabengasse in the "Haus des Gastes", the former forestry office building. Here is also found a small tourist information centre, where guided tours of the town and castle begin Saturdays between May and September.

Economy and infrastructure


Hirschhorn lies on the "Neckartalbahn" (HeidelbergBad Friedrichshall-Jagstfeld), which since 2003 has been served half-hourly by the RheinNeckar S-Bahn.

Near Hirschhorn, "Bundesstraße" 37 takes a shortcut over two bridges and through a tunnel, avoiding the biggest oxbow on the Neckar. The western bridge runs in a curve across the river.Since 1933, there has been a weir on the Neckar at Hirschhorn with a lock. The structure also serves as a bridge over the Neckar over which parts of town on the south bank and the “Little Odenwald” can be reached. These parts of town only came into being after the lock was built.

Established businesses

* Checkpoint Meto GmbH
* ITG Induktionsanlagen GmbH
* GH Indutec GmbH
* Ajax Tocco Magnethermic GmbH
* K. Biesinger GmbH – electric meters, water meters, testing centre
* Contact GmbH
* Dekodur GmbH & Co. KG

Public institutions

*Licensing centre of Bergstraße district until 2007 (thereafter for 10 years in Neckarsteinach)

State institutions

*Outpost of the Darmstadt labour office


* Neckartalschule Hirschhorn (primary school)

Leisure and sport

* Sporthall and sporting ground on Jahnstraße
* Primary school sporthall
* Campsite with outdoor swimming pool
* Neckar valley cycling path
* "Stoppomat": Hirschhorn now runs a permanent timing system for cyclists, walkers, skaters, Nordic walkers and handcyclists.

Further reading

*Alfred Röder: "Von Ersheim zu Hirschhorn", Magistrat der Stadt Hirschhorn 1984


* [http://www.hirschhorn.de Hirschhorn] de icon
* [http://www.badischewanderungen.de/Hirschhorn-Amthaus--k1-02-k2-.htm "Altes Amthauses"] de icon
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