Schwarzwaldhöfe, or Black Forest Farmhouses

Typical farmhouses

As my husband and I drove through the central Black Forest, these ubiquitous farmhouses captured our attention. Most of them are enormous, somewhere between a boutique hotel and an airplane hangar. At first we weren’t sure if they were residences or not, but most of them look very lived in, with laundry hanging across the wooden balconies and flowers in the windows.

It’s not surprising that all the wood in these houses was sourced locally.

Smaller versions

The defining feature is the steep hipped roof. In some cases, the roof extends almost to the ground. The houses are big enough to accommodate people and animals and to store hay.

Even the birdhouses share the design!

I am told that in these houses, the central point is the living room, which is situated in the middle of the structure. Designed for optimum coziness, they have low ceilings, wood-paneled walls and tiled stoves. Traditionally, there is a shrine in the corner opposite the stove with a small altar, crucifix and Madonna figure.

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