Hof, Bavaria

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Town hall
Town hall
Coat of arms of Hof
Coat of arms
Hof  is located in Germany
Coordinates: 50°19′0″N 11°55′0″E / 50.31667°N 11.91667°E / 50.31667; 11.91667Coordinates: 50°19′0″N 11°55′0″E / 50.31667°N 11.91667°E / 50.31667; 11.91667
Country Germany
  1. default: Bavaria
Admin. region Upper Franconia
District urban district
 • Mayor Dr. Harald Fichtner (CSU)
 • Total 58.02 km2 (22.40 sq mi)
Population (2013-12-31)[1]
 • Total 44,522
 • Density 770/km2 (2,000/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 95001-95032
Dialling codes 09281
Vehicle registration HO

Hof is a town located on the banks of the Saale in the northeastern corner of the German state of Bavaria, in the Franconian region, at the Czech border and the forested Fichtelgebirge and Frankenwald upland regions.

The town of Hof is enclosed by, but does not belong to the Bavarian district of Hof; it is nonetheless the district's administrative seat.

The town's most important work of art, the Hofer altar, dates from about 1465 and is exhibited in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich today. The Heidenreich organ in the parish church of St. Michaelis, completed in 1834, is considered one of Bavaria's finest.

Hof is known for two local "delicacies", namely Schnitz, a kind of hotpot, and sausages boiled in a portable, coal-fired brass cauldron, which are sold in the streets by the sausage man (Wärschtlamo in the local dialect). There is also a particularly strong beer (Schlappenbier), which is available only on the first Monday after Trinity Sunday (Schlappentag). This tradition dates back to the establishment of the town militia which forced all shooters to take part in a special shooting training each year. To avoid penalties, a lot of shooters rushed out to the training area in the morning of the very last possible day, without even enough time to get dressed and thus still wearing their clogs (Schlappen).

The Hof Theatre (Theater Hof) is a multi-purpose theatre whose construction was completed in 1994. It serves as an opera house, concert hall and drama theatre, and hosts the city's ballet company and a youth theatre. It is the home venue of the Hof Symphony Orchestra.(Hofer Symphoniker)


Administrative divisions[edit]

The town of Hof consists of the following districts in particular:

  • Altstadt ( = Old Town)
  • Bahnhofsviertel
  • Haidt
  • Hofeck
  • Eppenreuth
  • Fabrikvorstadt
  • Krötenbruck
  • Leimitz
  • Moschendorf
  • Münster
  • Neuhof
  • Neustadt
  • Jägersruh
  • Gärtla
  • Osseck
  • Unterkotzau
  • Vogelherd
  • Vorstadt
  • Wölbattendorf


Hof is located in between the areas of the Frankenwald (Franconian Forest), the Fichtelgebirge and the Vogtland.


Roman Period[edit]

Varisci/Narisci Tribe during Roman Empire. Seen as 'Narister' on this map.

Hof in the Middle Ages was located in the Provincia Variscorum and was known in Latin as Curiae Variscorum or Curiae Nariscorum meaning "Court of the Varisci/Narisci." It is assumed then that Hof was the place where the chief(s) of the Varisci (or Narisci) tribe of the Suebi people held court. The Varisci appear briefly in Tacitus' Germania (Chapter 42) as participants in the Marcomannic Wars. Their chief, Valao, was killed during battle around 167 AD and it is possible that these ancient peoples were then transplanted to Italy by Marcus Aurelius and lost their identity. A few centuries later (4th or 5th century) the obscure Armalausi peoples appear where the Varisci once lived,[2] however the Latin name of Varisci stuck to the region. This is evidenced by nearby Plauen being called Plavia Variscorum and Hof: Curia Variscorum. The name Curiae Variscorum has been used to denote the city of Hof in numerous documents and publications throughout the years.[3] This legacy remains even to this day as the word 'Hof' is German for 'court', just as 'curiae' is Latin for 'court'.

Sorbish-Frankish Conflicts[edit]

Sometime around the 6th century AD the Slavic Sorbs began arriving near the Saale River which runs through Hof. They are first mentioned in 631 A.D., when Fredegar’s Chronicle described them as "Surbi" and as under the rule of a Dervan, an ally of Samo. The Frankish Kingdom of Charlemagne and his descendants were determined to Christianize the pagan Slavs and various campaigns were waged against them. The Annales Regni Francorum state that in 806 A.D. Sorbian Duke Miliduch fought against the Franks and was killed. The region where Hof is located then came under the ecclesiastic control of the Dioceses of Würzburg, but it doesn't appear to have had much influence in Hof as Hof appears to have been sparsely populated if at all during this time frame. Then in 1007 the region containing Hof came under the Bishopric of Bamberg which was established out of the Dioceses of Würzburg to further spread Christianity throughout this area.


It appears that the missionary efforts of Bamberg were fairly successful in Hof. Sometime around 1080 a group of farmers (possibly Sorbish) settled near the area around modern day St. Lorenzkirche in Hof. They called the settlement "Rekkenze". Rekkenze was first mentioned in a document[4] written by one Pastor Albertus of St. Lorenzkirche in 1214 to the Bishop of Bamberg. The name Rekkenze is Slavic in origin and appears to be derived from the Western Slavic word "Rekavica" meaning "river." The Slavic language left many marks on the geography of this region and to this day there are two waterways known as "Regnitz" near Hof: the Upper/Southern Regnitz (which flows in the south of Hof on the east side of the Saale River) and the Lower/Northern Regnitz (which flows in the north and east side of the Saale). Also of note, the area around Hof, the southern Bavarian-Bohemian part of the Vogtland, was known as the Regnitzland.

Historic Names of Hof[edit]

This Rekkenze settlement, which later became Hof, went by many names through the years. For example, Hof is also called "curia Reckenize" (court of Reckenize) and "schlosz Reckenitz" (Castle Reckenitz) in a document of the Vögte of Weida in the year 1276. It has been suggested that the name "Hof" is the shortened form of "Stadt am Regnitzhof" meaning "City on the Court at the Regnitz". Other names for Hof have included: Curia Bavarica (Variscorum), Curiae Nariscorum, Curiae Regnitianae, Curiae Regnitianae ad Salam, Curiae Variscorum, Hoff, Hofii, Hof an der Saale, and Hoff im Voitlande to name but a few.[5]

Meranian Influence[edit]

Around 1230, Duke Otto I von Andechs-Merania fortified the area north of the Rekkenze farming settlement (Altstadt) at the area downstream now known as Neustadt (New City). In 1299 both Old and New Hof were destroyed by a fire.

Town Status[edit]

Hof was recognized as a town in 1319 when it received a municipal law.

Vögte of Weida Influence[edit]

Castle Osterburg in Weida is considered the birthplace of the Vogltand which once ruled Hof

The Vögte of Weida owned Hof in the Regnitzland until 1373 when Burgrave Friedrick V of Nuremberg bought all of the Regnitzland along with Hof from the Vögte. However, due to this early history with the Vögte of Weida, Hof is still considered part of the geographical region known as the Vogtland. To this day the Wappen (Shield) of Hof has the lion of the Vögte emblazoned in remembrance of the fact it was once owned by the Vögte. The Museum Bayerisches Vogtland in Hof today also pays homage to this history.

Brandenburg Period (1373 - 1792)[edit]

Burgrave Frederick V died on January 21, 1398, and his lands were split between his two sons, John III and Frederick IV, thus creating what has been called the Principality of Bayreuth. Hof was under this Hohenzollern Principality until December 2, 1791 and during this time was known as the Hochfürstlich-Brandenburgische Hauptstadt Hoff im Voigtlande (the "Princely Brandenburg capital city of Hof in the Vogtland").

Hussite Wars[edit]

In 1430, the Hussites devastated the city of Hof. In 1432 a militia was organized which is still celebrated in Hof annually in festival called Schlappentag [see description above]. In 1498 a watch tower was constructed to add to the defenses of Hof.


In 1529, during the beginning of the Reformation, Hof became Lutheran.

Margrave Albert Alcibiades[edit]

Margrave Albrecht von Brandenburg-Kulmbach

In 1546, Margrave Albert Alcibiades of Brandenburg-Kulmbach founded a Grammar School in Hof, which is today known as the Jean-Paul Gymnasium, in honor of the most famous student that attended there: Jean Paul Friedrich Richter. Jean-Paul Gymnasium is one of the oldest schools in Upper Franconia.

Siege of Hof[edit]

On August 7, 1553 Hof came under a 7-week siege known as the Siege of Hof. The siege was one of the major battles of the Second Margrave War and was finally taken from Margrave Albert Alcibiades by Heinrich IV of Plauen on September 28, 1553. Albert was able to briefly retake Hof on October 11, but it fell back into the hands of those allied against Margrave Albert on November 27. St. Lorenzkirche was looted and burned during the siege and the old Watch Tower was also burned out. The Hospitalkirche, which was used as a war camp by the attackers, was attacked and destroyed by the city's defenders. St. Michaeliskirche still displays a cannonball lodged in its tower from the siege. After the siege, Henry IV put Georg Wolf of Kotzau (who had once served Margrave Albert) in charge of the governance of Hof. The noted artist Hans Glaser made a woodcut of the siege of Hof.

Thirty Years War[edit]

After the 30 Years War (1618 - 1648), Hof became a refuge for displaced Protestants, especially from Austria and Bohemia.

Postal Link[edit]

In 1683 Hof became a link in the postal service between Leipzig and Nuremberg. The post came through twice a week. Postal links to Regensburg (1692) and to Dresden (1693) followed.

Fire of 1743[edit]

In 1743 the Hof Castle burned down and was not rebuilt, although several walls of the castle are still visible in modern day Hof.

Prussian Rule (1791 - 1805 )[edit]

Hof came under Prussian rule on December 2, 1791 when Margrave Charles Alexander, the last Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach and Brandenburg-Bayreuth, sold it to the King of Prussia, a fellow member of the House Hohenzollern.

Napoleanic Rule (1805-1810 )[edit]

On December 15, 1805 Hof briefly came under Napoleonic French rule until it was sold to the Kingdom of Bavaria on June 30, 1810.

Bavarian Rule (1810 - 1918)[edit]

Fire of 1823[edit]

On September 4, 1823, the town was virtually destroyed by a fire as 9 out of 10 buildings were destroyed.

World War II[edit]

In 1945, Hof suffered minor destruction due to aerial attacks.

Modern Era[edit]

From 1945 to 1990 Hof lay very close to the border between East Germany and West Germany. In 1989 thousands of East German citizens, who had demanded the right to travel or emigrate to West Germany and had been allowed to do so, first arrived on western soil at Hof's railroad station, having been placed on a special train and officially "expelled" by the East German government. Hof is located near the old Berlin-Munich autobahn, which was thought to be a possible invasion route by Warsaw Pact forces had the Cold War ever turned into armed (see; Fulda Gap).

Largest groups of foreign residents
Nationality Population (2011)
 Turkey 1,987
 Ukraine 323
 Poland 215

Population development[edit]

Year Population
1818: 4,667
1840: 7,985
1880: 21,000
1900: 32,781
1920: 40,785
Year Population
1939: 44,878
1945: 55,405
1950: 61,033
1955: 58,005
1960: 57,414
Year Population
1965: 55,810
1970: 54,424
1975: 54,644
1980: 53,180
1985: 51,275
Year Population
1990: 53,095
1995: 52,531
2003: 49,804
2004: 49,424
2006: 50,150


Mayors (First Mayors and Lord Mayors)[edit]

(since the introduction of the Bavarian Municipal Code in 1818)

1818–1846: Georg Friedrich Samuel von Oerthel (d. 20 Mar 1846)
1847: Johann Adam Laubmann (from 20 Jul 1847 – 25 Dec 1847)
1848–1849: Christoph Theodor Gottlob Schrön (elected 7 Feb 1848)
1849–1857: Moritz Ernst Freiherr von Waldenfels
1857–1882: Hermann von Münch
1883–1903: Carl von Mann
1904–1916: Paul Bräuninger
1916–1919: Heinrich Neupert
1919–1933: Dr. Karl Buhl
1933–1941: Dr. Richard Wendler
1945–1946: Dr. Oskar Weinauer
1946–1948: Hans Bechert
1948–1949: Dr. Kurt Schröter
1950–1970: Hans Högn (SPD)
1970–1988: Dr. Hans Heun (CSU)
1988–2006: Dieter Döhla (SPD)
2006 to present date: Dr. Harald Fichtner (CSU)

Sister Cities[edit]

Hof has established connections to its following sister cities around the world:


Periodic events[edit]

Wim Wenders once said HOF was short for Home of Films. In 1967, student Heinz Badewitz, together with his back then band members, organized a 2 and a half hours movie theater night in Hof showing a few motion pictures. They called this event the 1st Hof Short Film Festival. They had the idea after disappointing results at the Obberhausener Short Film Festival. Also, Munich (the city where they studied at the time) had too difficult terms and conditions and the rents had been too high to start a project of that kind there. This gave way for the Hof International Film Festival. Heinz Badewith led the Festival from there on and the project grew up over the years. Now, after 4 decades, the Festival is one of the most renowned in all of Germany. Newcomer directors and producers get to premier their debut motion pictures here. The Hof International Film Festival became a trend-setting event for the German movie industry.

  • Schlappentag

(see above in the general description)

  • Hofer Volksfest

The term Volksfest means fair or folk festival. The Hofer Volksfest is the biggest of its kind in the area. It takes place at the end of July and beginning of August every year. It always begins on the last Friday of July with a big parade which passes through the downtown heading in the direction of the festival area where it finishes up. The festival occupies a big amusement park with a wide variety of attractions and all kinds of local food and beer specialties, and partly occupies a big beer tent area. Most of the latter takes place in a big concert hall but the atmosüphere is similar to that of a beer tent. Every night, different local bands play mostly traditional Bavarian music to entertain the mostly regional crowd. In the late 60s Andy Seltzer originally found Luise Miehling at this event.

Weather and Geography[edit]

Hof is also known as Bavarian Siberia because temperatures are usually several degrees lower than in most other parts of Bavaria, particularly in winter, and because civil servants were often transferred to Hof as a punishment.

Wargamers might know Hof from the game Hof Gap published by Simulations Publications, Inc. (SPI) in 1980. The game, which simulates the early stages of WWIII in Germany, was not well received in Hof itself. SPI confused Hof Gap with the Fulda Gap, further north. Operationally Hof was in the US Army's 2nd Squadron/2nd Armored Cavalry's sector, maintaining border operations in this region, and it was referred to as the Hof Corridor. A letter to SPI in early 1981 did not persuade them to change the name of the game, however. Despite that, the game was popular among 2/2 ACR troopers who enjoyed conflict simulations.

Actually, the Hof Gap was also a planned Warsaw Pact approach into West Germany. There are many published post-Cold War articles supporting this. The anticipated actions in defense of West Germany included the cavalry covering force action which was to delay, allowing the arrival of US and Bundeswehr heavy units. SPI made no error or confusion in this case and actually covered a less well known, but just as critical, possible Soviet approach route. The layman who was interested in the 70's and 80's knew about Fulda, only those assigned to relieve the cavalry at Hof were aware of its importance. Review of the unit designations in both the Fulda and Hof Gap games SPI released and their coverage becomes readily apparent.

An interesting note about the coat-of-arms of Hof is that it is a red shield with two white towers against which leans a black shield with a gold lion. 322 miles away the town of Heimbach where Hengebach castle is located (former seat of the dukes of Julich) the coat-of-arms is almost the reverse: a black shield with a red roof on a white tower against which leans a gold shield with a black lion. Although Hof is 322 miles away from Heimbach, the two cities do have some interesting associations. The castle of Hengebach in Heimbach is actually located in the section that was the former village of Schmidt and there lived a branch of the baronial dynasty of von Schmidt auf Altenstadt until they emigrated in 1749 and the seat of the barons von Altenstadt was very near Hof, in a part of the municipality of Gattendorf known as Kirchgattendorf, where the ruins of the von Altenstadt castles can be seen today. But the coincidences do not stop there: the family arms of the von Schmidts auf Altenstadt were a swan and the arms of Gattendorf are a swan.

The barons von Schmidt auf Altenstadt, as barons of the village Gattendorf in the environs of Hof were a significant part of social and aristocratic life in Hof. In the nineteenth century, Christoph August von Schmidt, after having served as a Provost at the University of Saint Petersburg, Russia where he was ennobled by the Tsar and awarded the orders of St Stanislaus and Sts Ann-and-Vladimir, erected a monument [6] describing his adventure and bearing the simplified, swan version of his coat-of-arms which today has been adopted by the village of Gattendorf as its municipal arms.

Hof provided Anthony Hope (author of "The Prisoner of Zenda") with his inspiration for Strelsau, capital of his fictitious kingdom of Ruritania. Although the book locates Ruritania along the railway line between Dresden in Sachsen (Saxony) and Prague, capital of Bohemia (modern day Czech Republic), one can see Hof in the descriptions of Strelsau. Among the clues there is the name "Altstadt" for the "old town"—similar to "Altenstadt"—the older part of Strelsau where "Black Michael", the Duke of Strelsau, was popular. And one can see elements of Hof's medieval beauty in the atmosphere of Strelsau.


Climate in this area has mild dfferences between highs and lows, and there is adequate rainfall year round. The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Cfb" (Marine West Coast Climate/Oceanic climate).


Climate data for Hof an der Saale
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) −0.7
Daily mean °C (°F) −2.9
Average low °C (°F) −5.4
Rainfall mm (inches) 55.5
Mean monthly sunshine hours 44.7 72.4 112.3 149.2 195.0 198.1 207.7 195.5 156.3 120.7 51.7 38.1 1,541.7
[citation needed]

|source 1 = DWD [7]

|source 2 = European Climate Assessment and Dataset [8]


Hof is also home to the University of Applied Sciences Hof which has around 2300 students and the University of Applied Sciences for Administration and Legal Affairs in Bavaria which has around 500 students.


Hof was in cold war times of special interest as it was near the frontier to Czechoslovakia and the GDR. On Hohe Saas, there was a radar site. A border camp of the American 2nd Armored Cavalry Regt. was near the town and the regiment had a Border Resident Office which was manned by military intelligence personnel. Between 1949 and 1993, Hof was also the site of an RIAS transmitting station.


Hof central station is on the Regensburg–Hof, Bamberg–Hof and Leipzig–Hof main lines and the Hof–Bad Steben branch line.

Hof has an airport, which offers daily connection to Frankfurt/Main.

Buses are run by HofBus, which currently runs 12 lines in the town.

Points of interest[edit]


External links[edit]