IT ALL BEGAN IN 1409

The history of the Auracher Löchl

AURACHER LÖCHL IN THE HEART OF KUFSTEIN

If you know Kufstein, you also know the Römerhofgasse and the Auracher Löchl restaurant – and that applies not only to today’s guests and locals, but also was the case for the travelers and town residents of the 14th century. Then as now, the fortress rock stood protectively at the back, the green Inn as a gentle source of life was in front, the ancient city gate was to the left and the lively alleyway to the right. So the inn was felt to be a complete whole, despite its different parts. But when you think how close the Auracher Löchl was to the city gates, and how closely its fate was tied to the Kufstein fortress, it must be wondered whose protective hand has been held over it for these 600 years. As if by a miracle, the Auracher Löchl was spared many of the evils that the rest of the city had to endure. Old stories passed down through the generations tell of several ‘good spirits’…

From 1400…
Sometime around 1409 the oldest part of the Auracher inn was built directly behind the city wall with stones from the Inn, next to and into the fortress rock. The byname ‘Löchl’ comes from the 90m-long tunnel that the owner had hewed into the rock so that his home-brewed beer could be cooled.

From 1448 the inn was already a popular place in the town, patronized by the many soldiers who were stationed in the fortress. The officers sat in the heated parlours which have been preserved until the present day, while the lower ranks occupied the stony basement. Daring raftsmen and fishermen docked at the Auracher jetty, and the traders and travelers refreshed themselves and their horses. Local artisans and farmers offered their wares for sale here, and of course there were also the gentry and clergy here too. No wonder that a place through which so much valuable information from the Inn flowed became political. The founding family Auracher produced no less than ten mayors in subsequent generations, and constantly expanding their reputation and the inn.

From 1500…
Following the siege and conquering of Kufstein in 1504 by Emperor Maximilian I, the historical records of the Auracher report the appearance of the first ‘good spirit’. After having been beheaded, a Bavarian follower of the similarly decapitated captain of the fortress sat henceforth in his favourite bar after midnight, keeping faithful guard over his regular place. It was because of him that the Auracher Löchl was spared from being plundered by the soldiers of the Habsburg Emperor.

From 1700…
It is not recorded which good spirit protected the Auracher Löchl during the devastating town fire of 1703. The fire was started by the people of Kufstein themselves, in order to stop the advance of the Bavarian elector Max Emanuel. It quickly spread out of control, but the Auracher inn was miraculously spared.

Throughout history, the much-praised green Inn has not only been a trading route and life-blood for the city, but also a constant threat. The walled crossing that still bridges the Römerhofgasse today, accommodating the ‘smallest bridge restaurant in the world’, wasn’t a convenient connection between the houses but served as an emergency route during floods, allowing valuable goods to be taken to the fortress rock. That it has never really been needed is thanks to the good spirit ‘Fisherman Lois’, apparently, who knew all the signs of an impending flood and who, after having drowned in the Inn, always warned the owners and guests of the inn in time.

From 1800…
In 1809 the town went up in flames again, during the Tyrolean war of liberation from the Napoleonic army, but the Auracher inn was once again spared.

From 1869
for the first time, wine was stored and poured in the former beer bar – and the well-stocked wine cellar became the realm of the ‘black cat’. She always sat on the best barrel of wine, and defended it against unauthorized tapping by wild hissing and scratching. The superstitious servants believed the cat to be an envoy of the devil, and left the good wine alone. In return, the Auracher owners set the black cat into their coat of arms.

From 1900…
At the turn of the century, Kufstein became a centre for winter sports. The annual ‘winter sports festival’ was a sparkling social event. Alongside locals, special trains filled with 1500 guests came from Bavaria and even from England, in order to see the two-man sledges, ski races like the snake-run (slalom?) and long-run, snow-shoe races, ski-jumping (furthest jump 16m!), horn-sledge races, and much more besides.
However, in 1906 the figure-skating competitors and the ice festival on the Auracher pond fell into the water, due to the diligent ‘good spirit’ of the Auracher Löchl having cut out the ice to cool the beer, as he did every Friday.
In 1908 the Bavarian state railway complained about the delayed arrival of the Munich train, at 10.24pm, because the passengers had ‘dallied too long in the Kufstein restaurants’. Then came a dark time. In WWI and WWII the small tunnel which had been in use for centuries was expanded and used as a safety bunker for the people of Kufstein. Once more, the Auracher Löchl escaped the bombing and fires unscathed. And once the founding Auracher family ran out of descendants, after many generations, the inn was sold in 1922 to the Neuhauser family, who continued to run it in a traditional style. A very special ‘good spirit’ of the establishment was the musician and composer Karl Ganzer, who regularly played his button harmonica in the Auracher Löchl from 1946 onwards. His world-famous, millions-of-times repeated Kufstein song ‘Do you know the pearl, the pearl of the Tyrol…’ was created there. Ganzer’s seat in the large parlour has been reverently kept free until this day, and there is a worthy memorial to him in plaster in the alley in front of the building. In 1992 the Auracher Löchl was put up for sale again, and once again had good fortune. The restaurateur from Zillertal, Raimund Hirschhuber, fell head-over-heels in love with the original inn and kept it from being radically modernized.

From 2000...
After Raimund Hirschhuber had passed away far too early, his son Richard took on the restaurant in 2003. Since then, he has tried to revive the old spirit of the inn, in line with the principle ‘tradition is not about keeping the ashes, but rather passing on the fire’, while at the same time allowing some modernity in.

Whether today’s guests are actually impressed, only they can judge after having stayed in the inn. However, instead of the slate or parchment of 600 years ago, today internet platforms like tripadvisor, holidaycheck and many others are available. Or you can get in touch with Richard Hirschhuber directly.

 
 
01.11.2016
written by Auracher-Löchl Hannes
 
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