Find out more about the building and its traditions
The current building is a combination of three separate ones, parts of which date back to the 13th century. It was once the hospice of the city of Zurich and was owned by the Predigerkloster monastery. During the Reformation (1519 to 1531) by Huldrych Zwingli (1484 to 1531), the monastic orders left Zurich and the monasteries became privately owned. From about 1530, the building was called ‘Gasthof zum Schermesser im Niederdorf’. The term ‘Gasthof’ (inn) lets us assume that the building already offered simple overnight accommodation. It was not until 1703 that it received the designation ‘Gasthof zum Hirschen’, making it one of the oldest hotels in Zurich.
In 1877, the demolition of buildings belonging to the hospital created a great deal of open space. Over time, that space became a respectable square, which has been called Hirschenplatz ever since. Numerous conversions and additions took place over the course of the century until, in the 20th century, the Hirschen was developed into the building that is still in use today.
The Dada Manifesto by Hugo Ball and his fellow artists was written here in 1916. This movement extended to Berlin, Munich and New York.
Cabaret began in Zurich with the political piece ‘Die Pfeffermühle’ (1933 to 1936) by Erika and Klaus Mann and Therese Giehse. The Hirschen’s stage was the venue of the famous Cabaret Cornichon (1934 to 1948), founded by Otto Weissert, Walter Lesch, Emil Hegetschweiler and Alois Carigiet and later joined by Max Werner Lenz, Elsie Attenhofer, Voli Geiler, Margrit Rainer, Heinrich Gretler, Zarli Carigiet, Karl Meier and Alfred Rasser.
The Cabaret Fédéral (1949 to 1953) also appeared here with Lukas Ammann, Zarli Carigiet, Stephanie Glaser, Cesar Keizer, Margrit Läubli and Walo Lüönd.
Later, from the early 1960s to 1997, the hall was used for live concerts. These included greats like Pink Floyd, Ozzy Osbourne with Black Sabbath, The Lords and The Kings, who made the place shake.
The path leads over old stones, lit by candles, into a late medieval room that you enter via a glassed-in well from 1340. The well is still fed by groundwater and is functional. The sacred-looking vaulted cellar has been used in various ways in the past, sometimes as a blacksmith’s shop and sometimes as a stable or storage room. The latter use is testified by hooks on the ceiling, which were used to pull rods through to hang up everything that had to be saved from unpleasant rodents.
And since 2002, the vaulted cellar has been home to our Weinschenke.
Here, you can almost imagine yourself at the table with Martin Luther, Michelangelo, Paracelsus and Leonardo da Vinci while you are having a glass of wine and a few bites of food, immersed in a deep philosophical conversation with dear friends and the positive energies of the place.
The Hirschen’s Weinschenke is an unforgettable place where people can experience mysticism, tranquillity and emotion. Right in the heart of the old town, and yet far away from the hustle, bustle and noise.