The “Degen” restaurant, built in the late Biedermeier style, is a building typical of this period and of its region of origin. In keeping with its former function as a cosy village inn, the “Degen” serves as a Museum restaurant at Ballenberg.
When Napoleon’s troops entered Hünenberg in 1798, they demanded a list of all public houses in the locality. Besides three inns, the list also included two taverns, one of which belonged to “Peter Dägen in the village”. The name of our inn is clearly derived from that of the innkeeping family of Dägen, which originally came from the Basel area. The inn was completely destroyed by fire in 1883, four years after having been sold by their last descendant. In 1891, a rebuilding took place in the truest sense of the word. What is now the “Degen” inn had been dismantled in another place located, according to oral sources, in the Canton of Lucerne. Dendrochronological studies showed that the timber of the head rail, the wall plate and the attic floor dated from the years 1837–42. The arrangement of the rooms in this post and beam structure with separate wood frames for each floor is in accordance with that of a dwelling house. The beautiful tile stove from the 19th century and the clever built-in buffet deserve special attention.
A little about the history of hospitality
Taverns were already built in the territory of present-day Switzerland by the Romans. In contrast, the Rhaetians, Alemanni, Teutons and Celts practised a non-commercial, ancient form of hospita-lity which required them to generously entertain and protect from all harm any strangers who asked for shelter. In the insecure times of the migrations of the peoples, however, there were serious abuses of this unrestricted private hospitality and the authorities were obliged to take regulatory measures. Finally, in the Middle Ages, only the monasteries continued to accommodate strangers free of charge as a part of their Christian duty, while in places located on important trade routes there was a mushroom growth of commercial hostelries, inns, taverns, etc.