Zell am Harmersbach is a small town and a historic “Reichsstadt” in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It lies in the Ortenaukreis, between the Black Forest and the Rhine.


Imperial City of Zell am Harmersbach
Reichsstadt Zell am Harmersbach
Free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire
Capital Zell am Harmersbach
Languages Low Alemannic
Government Republic
Historical era Middle Ages
 •  Founded before 1139
 •  Gained Reichsfreiheit 1218
 •  Mediatised to Baden 1803 1803
Preceded by
Succeeded by
House of Zähringen
Margraviate of Baden

Zell monastery was founded by the Counts von und zu Hohengeroldseck, to whose sovereign lands, most of the modern Ortenaukreis district of Baden-Württemberg belonged. The monastery was consecrated within the Zähringen order, with records dating back to 1139. In 1289 Rudolph I, invested the monastery as an Imperial abbey and was placed within the Gengenbach order under the Diocese of Strasbourg, however ownership and the vogt remained with the Kurfürst von und zu HohenGeroldsack until 1636, with the death of Kurfürst Jacob von und zu HohenGeroldsack.

During the Middle Ages the Hohengeroldsecks founded between 16 and 20 monasteries within the southern half of modern Baden-Baden. They were closely aligned with the Bishopic of Strassburg, being Vogt protectors for nearly 371 years, and twice Bishops of Strassburg, 1262–1273.


Zell is located at the end of the Harmersbachtal (Harmersbach Valley), a tributary valley of the Kinzig. 8 km North Hohengeroldseck Main Castle at Biberach. And 16 km from Lahr, another Hohengeroldseck foundation.

City districts

Along with Zell, the districts of Unterharmersbach, Unterentersbach und Oberentersbach are incorporated into the city.

The first documented mention of Oberentersbach dates to 1111. It was administered from Zell until 1803, and afterward formed a borough together with Unterentersbach. This union was dissolved in 1851.
The first documented mention of Unterentersbach dates to 1075. In around 1700, it came under the control of the Lords of Mayershofen.
The first documented mention of Unterharmersbach dates to 1139. In 1200 was taken over by the Bamberg Diocese. By way of the dukes of Zähringen, the Earls of Fürstenberg, and the Prince of Geroldseck, Unterharmersbach came under the control of the Strasbourg Diocese.

The city is bordered on the north by Nordrach, on the northeast by Oberharmersbach, on the southeast by Fischerbach, on the south by the city of Haslach, in the southwest by Steinach, on the west by Biberach, and on the northwest by the city of Gengenbach.


  • 1974: Oberentersbach
  • 1975: Unterentersbach, Unterharmersbach

Political administration

The city is the seat of the arranged administration partnership with the communities of Biberach, Nordrach and Oberharmersbach.

Local election results

The local council elections on the 13 June 2004 had the following result:

1. CDU 37.8% (+0,7) - 7 seats (−2)

2. FWV 31.6% (-0,8) - 6 seats (−2)

3. SPD 18.9% (-2,1) - 3 seats (−2)

4. GLZ 11.7% (+2,2) - 2 seats (=)

Coat of arms

Zell's coat of arms, a black eagle on gold, is the crest of the Holy Roman Empire and symbolizes Zell's history as an imperial city.

International relations

Zell am Harmersbach is twinned with:

The district of Unterharmersbach has maintained a partnership with the Swiss community of Tuggen since 2000.

Culture and attractions

Zell lies on the Kinzigtäler Jakobusweg and on the Großen Hansjakobweg routes, both of which pass many sites of interest.


  • Heimatmuseum Fürstenberger Hof (Fürstenberger Farm Museum)
  • Villa Haiss, museum for contemporary art
  • Storchenturm (stork tower) museum

Economy and infrastructure

Zell is the birthplace of the famous Hahn und Henne (Rooster and Hens) pottery factory.


Zell am Harmersbach lies on the Harmersbachtalbahn, a branch line of the Black Forest Railway, which runs from Biberach to Oberharmersbach. Public transport is provided for by the Ortenau transit network.


At Ritter von Buß Educational Center, there is a primary school, a secondary school and technical school. An additional primary school is located in Unterharmersbach. There is also a special educational school in Kernstadt. There are four kindergartens in the area.

Famous citizens

Franz Josef Ritter von Buß
  • Ignaz Blasius Bruder, (1780-1845), German musical instrument manufacturer and organ builder
  • Franz Josef Ritter von Buß, (1803-1878), German politician (German Centre Party) and preacher
  • Thomas Ruff, (born 1958), German photographer
  • Ralph Weissleder, (born 1958), American clinician scientist.
  • Eduard Montford (1819–1881), since 1851 standing in Baden civil service lawyer and Official Board
  • Wilhelm Metz (1828–1888), Catholic church musician, composer and organ expert
  • Ernst Peter Huber (1900–1959), painter
  • Heinrich Schwendemann (born 1956), historian
  • Wolfgang Mössinger (born 1957), diplomat
  • Stephanie Zehnle (born 1986), historian

Individuals with relation to city

Alexander Spitzmüller 1918
  • Karl Schaaff (1849-1920), owner of Zeller porcelain factory 1874-1907 was in 1907 awarded an honorary citizen.
  • Alexander Freiherr von und zu Spitzmüller-Harmersbach (1862–1953); the last finance minister of Austro-Hungarian Empire Although born in Vienna, but started off at his ennoblement in 1917 his nobility by ancestors from Zell am Harmersbach.
  • Kurt von Kraewel (1889–1951), Colonel retd, resistance fighter, owner of the paper mill Zell am Harmersbach.
  • From 1945 to 1952, the German scientist Karl Hasel was responsible for the administration of the forestry Zell am Harmersbach.

External links