It was the attractive landscape of forests, meadows and ponds that moved Landgrave Georg I of Hessen-Darmstadt to convert an agricultural domain to the north of Darmstadt into a three-wing hunting castle in the Renaissance style around 1580. For a couple of decades the nobility took pleasure in hunting here in the game park.
Jagdschloss Kranichstein flourished after the Thirty Years’ War. Renovated by Countess Sophie-Eleonore, the wife of Georg II, at the end of the 17th century, under Landgrave Ernst–Ludwig, it became the setting of elaborate par force hunts and magnificent hunting celebrations. Driven by a passion for hunting, Ludwig VIII made Kranichstein his main residence at the beginning of the 18th century and made some structural Baroque style changes. In 1790, Landgrave Ludwig X, who was later to become a Grand Duke, converted the hunting castle into a summer residence. From this point on, it no longer served as a courtly hunting location, but was used solely for private summer stays in beautiful nature.
In the middle of the 19th century, the Grand Duke Ludwig III changed the castle architecture to the style of the historical Neo-Renaissance, its present-day appearance. It appealed to prominent visitors such as Queen Victoria. In 1917 Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig commissioned his Grand Marshall Cuno Graf von Hardenberg with the erection of the Jagdschloss Kranichstein Museum, containing his collection of hunting memorabilia.
In 1952 the Stiftung Hessischer Jägerhof took over the castle from Ludwig Prince of Hessen and Rhine, and shortly thereafter reopened the museum, which had been closed during the war.
By 1988 it had become necessary to perform an expensive renovation of the entire hunting castle. Following comprehensive restoration with the financial support of the State of Hessen and the City of Darmstadt, the hunting castle once again opened to the public in 1998.
This means that it is one of the few Baroque hunting castles that are still preserved in Germany.
New opening at the beginning of 2014
In the tradition of a Baroque hunting lodge, Hotel Jagdschloss Kranichstein welcomes its guests to meetings, events, festivities and for short breaks. 48 rooms are available in different categories. Expensively renovated and furnished, with its stylish simplicity and yet special use of materials, the hotel combines the elegance of the Renaissance and the extravagant joie de vivre of the Baroque with sophisticated comfort.