A long and deeply grounded history of hospitality – “Zum Roten Bären” in Freiburg im Breisgau, now the homely hotel of Monika Hansen, has welcomed its guests since hundreds of years with joy and pride

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The "Hotel Bären" in Freiburg im Breisgau from the outside in summer. © 2017, Münzenberg Medien, photo: Stefan Pribnow

Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany (Weltexpress). First up on the mountain, the Schlossberg, and then into the bear. Fear not, it’s the hotel-restaurant Zum Roten Bären in Freiburg im Breisgau!

Sheltered by a gate of Freiburg at the foothills of the Black Forest, more precisely: the medieval city gate called Schwabentor, from where walkers and pedestrians climb, within minutes, up the Schlossberg, 450 meters above sea level, today a mostly forested mountain belonging to the city of Freiburg im Breisgau, which likes to be seen as part of the Black Forest.

Up a spiral staircase on Schlossberg from “Kanonenplatz”

A painting in the “Zum Roten Bären” shows a view of Freiburg im Breisgau. On the right side: Schlossberg with “Kanonenplatz”. © 2017, Münzenberg Media, Photo: Stefan Pribnow
A painting in the “Zum Roten Bären” shows a view of Freiburg im Breisgau. On the right side: Schlossberg with “Kanonenplatz”. © 2017, Münzenberg Media, Photo: Stefan Pribnow

A painting in the “Zum Roten Bären” shows a view of Freiburg im Breisgau. On the right side: Schlossberg with “Kanonenplatz”. © 2017, Münzenberg Media, Photo: Stefan Pribnow

To whoever has made it as a visitor of the old town in Breisgau through the Schwabentor and up to the so-called Cannon Place, we recommend a hike on the short Schlossberg circular route. From Kanonenplatz along the vineyard over the Gewerbebach and up the Salzbüchsletreppe then already hikers stand in front of the Schlossbergturm. Do not shy away from the 150 steps of the spiral staircase running over two or three dozen meters. At the top, from lofty heights over trees, there is a magnificent panoramic view of the city and countryside. But already from Kanonenplatz walkers can take a leisurely look over Freiburg into the Breisgau and the river Dreisam to the Rhine and into Alsace, but especially to see from above the numerous sights of Freiburg.

The old town with Bächle and Münster

With luck one can see ducks swim in the Freiburg Bächle, of which 15.5 km run along on the surface and 6.4 km underground. © 2017, Münzenberg Media, Photo: Stefan Pribnow
With luck one can see ducks swim in the Freiburg Bächle, of which 15.5 km run along on the surface and 6.4 km underground. © 2017, Münzenberg Media, Photo: Stefan Pribnow

Anyone who has gained an overview of the old town from this mountain spur of the Black Forest at the entrance of the Dreisam Valley will commit himself for a stroll afterwards. Always along the Freiburger Bächle, who are fed from water out of the Dreisam, around the cathedral of Our Lady and at least once into the partly Romanesque but mostly Gothic style Roman Catholic parish church, which is a cathedral, because Freiburg has a bishop, but is still called Münster, and into the exhibitions and museums, such as the Augustinermuseum. Not to forget the old courtyard houses.

Into the inn of historic fame “Zum Roten Bären”

Monika Hansen in the basement of her hotel Zum Roten Bären in Freiburg im Breisgau. © 2017, Münzenberg Media, Photo: Stefan Pribnow
Monika Hansen in the basement of her hotel Zum Roten Bären in Freiburg im Breisgau. © 2017, Münzenberg Media, Photo: Stefan Pribnow

Best and most popular is the Zum Roten Bären, which stands a stone’s throw from the Schwabentor on a Bächle and in which host Monika Hansen refers to a 1000-year construction history and 700 years of welcoming guests.
Monika Hansen, latest of a century-long series of over 50 red bear proprietors, explains that her “bear is the oldest inn in Germany” and “one of the oldest buildings dating back to the founding of Freiburg”. The bear hostess shows us the “three-storey cellar, with its medieval floors, the pillars and the arcade arches” and refers to the foundations that came from “before the founding of the city in 1120”. Really impressive! In a leaflet entitled “Kleine Bärengeschichte”, which she presents to us, we read that these originate from a manor house that belonged to the former earls court or Grafenhof of the Zähringer dynasty who ruled over the town. “The bear was used as an inn back in the 12th century,” she continues, and eventually the house was developed into a “stately renaissance building”. But then the “Romanesque-Gothic arcade house was demolished” and on the foundation “today’s baroque building on Oberlinden was built”.

A bear made of butter

This bear made of butter in the Zum Roten Bären in Freiburg im Breisgau is an eye-catcher. © 2017, Münzenberg Media, Photo: Stefan Pribnow
This bear made of butter in the Zum Roten Bären in Freiburg im Breisgau is an eye-catcher. © 2017, Münzenberg Media, Photo: Stefan Pribnow

“The bread soup that was served in the Inn of the Red Bear in Freiburg in Medieval Times, of course, has long since disappeared from the menu. Today we serve you a light, Baden cuisine with a touch of extravagance, “we read on the website of the Red Bear. “Daily specials, lunch menu, festive bear menu, gourmet or seasonal cuisine” are provided by chef de cuisine Albert Schweizer and the kitchen team”, which according to the website “always attaches great importance to the careful preparation of the dishes”.
We enjoyed our breakfast from the rich buffet and bear menu at its best. The rustic dining room with thick walls, heavy beams and slightly rounded, wooden ceilings, of which many-armed modern chandeliers hang, as well as partly panel walls we like to keep in mind with pleasure.

We will never forget the butter in the form of a bear, as well as the outstanding dessert like crème brûlée with orange liqueur sauce, that delicious scoop of chocolate ice cream on which mint leaves stuck, and a crunchy biscuit with strawberry. Tasty as well the homemade “berry porridge” with vanilla ice cream. For couples Crêpes Suzette would certainly be the hit. A three-course menu with starter, a main course and sweet delicacy at the end costs currently only 48 euros.

Super delicious: a dessert at the restaurant Zum Roten Bären in Freiburg im Breisgau. © 2017, Münzenberg Media, Photo: Stefan Pribnow
Super delicious: a dessert at the restaurant Zum Roten Bären in Freiburg im Breisgau. © 2017, Münzenberg Media, Photo: Stefan Pribnow

A classic dish from the bear kitchen is “Badisches Hausgericht”: Various medallions with three sauces, including homemade Spaetzle and crisp salad fresh from the Freiburg farmers market. Local flavour also comes to the table by “Freiburg Festive Soup” with Flädle, Maultäschle and dumplings.

If you want to lavish into regional cuisine, you can also enjoy the “Heimatgenuss” menu – for example, caramelized Horbener goat cream cheese with rocket and cherry tomatoes, followed by filet of an Markgräfler country pig with wild garlic hollandaise, market vegetables and Risolée potatoes and then marinated Buchholzer strawberries with vanilla ice cream and rose cake. This three-course menu currently costs only 33 euros.

Wine to go well with the meal from near by vineyards

The very old the wine cellar. © 2017, Münzenberg Medien, photo: Stefan Pribnow
The very old the wine cellar. © 2017, Münzenberg Medien, photo: Stefan Pribnow

The Red Bear website also states that “the wine cellar … is stocked above all with fine wines from private wineries and winegrowers’ cooperatives in Baden.” True enough! For a good meal a suitable wine from the wine regions of Baden can be served at any time. The winegrowing areas Breisgau, Tuniberg, Kaiserstuhl are really on the doorstep. Wandering through the vineyards and visiting winemakers is well worth it.

But after a delicious meal in the red bear you will have to make it out the front door and take at least thousand steps. How about a walk up on the Schlossberg then?

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Restaurant and Hotel Zum Roten Bären, Oberlinden 12, 79098 Freiburg, Reservations under 0761 387870,
E-Mail: reservation@red-baeren.de
Web: www.roter-baeren.de
Opening hours: from 7 am to 10 am in the morning, from noon to 2 pm midday, from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm in the evening. Sundays are rest days.

Christopher Prescott based on a text by Ole Bolle.

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