The origins of Bülach’s most tradition-rich inn dates back to the 14th century, when the Barons von Tengen expanded and fortified the village bailiwick. Gasthaus zum Kopf, as it was called back then, was a licensed tavern, situated right by the north gate. The only surviving evidence of this today is the narrowing of Marktgasse in front of our summer garden lounge. The gate itself was dismantled long ago. The inn, much like practically the whole town, probably fell victim to the three great fires of 1386, 1444 and 1506.
The inn may have obtained its name “Kopf” (meaning “head”) from the eponymous old unit of volume, equating to 3.66 litres. The “head” is now symbolised by a golden face on the richly ornamented tavern sign. Structural alterations were made in the mid-16th century and perhaps even a new building was erected. At any rate, it is documented that Canton Schaffhausen donated its coat-of-arms panel in 1570 for the new parlour. The inn flourished, thanks to its location on the trade and pilgrimage route from Eglisau to Zurich. For generations, the owners were among the town’s dignitaries, holding offices such as town major or treasurer.
On poets, thinkers and crowned heads
In 1797, during his third southern journey, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe paid considerable attention to the coat-of-arms panels in the inn. At that time, these colourful panels were also known as Swiss panels in Germany, where they were highly popular. Goethe, who frequented the best baroque manors, did not find the 1762 ceiling painting by Stöffi (Christoph) Kuhn von Rieden or the attractive stucco work so striking. Nevertheless, this room became known as the Goethe Parlour after his journey. In 1852, the king of Sweden dined and enjoyed himself at Zum Goldenen Kopf.
Gottfried Keller, poet and first cantonal chancellor of Canton Zurich, was also very familiar with what is now Hotel Restaurant Zum Goldenen Kopf. After all, he based his 1856 work “The People of Seldwyla” on the little town of Bülach and its people.
Remnants of times gone by
From 1862 to 1962, the inn was owned by the Huber family. In 1961, the Bülach Communal Assembly decided to purchase the tavern, so as to preserve the town’s appearance as much as possible. The application for a corresponding project loan had been prepared, when the building fell victim to a fire on the night of the 21st/22nd of June 1962. Before the year was out, a large majority of the voting public approved its reconstruction. The three upper floors had been particularly badly affected, so only the section of curtain wall and the little stairwell could be integrated into the new building. The plaster ceiling in the Goethe Parlour came through the fire with relatively little damage and was restored. Any attentive visitor passing through the rooms will encounter numerous remnants of times gone by. Today, Hotel Restaurant Zum Goldenen Kopf is under the protection of the Swiss Confederation.