"Once a huge elephant
came to our land
from the south.
This is the house where he stopped by
and ate and drank
plenty of good wine.
Full, happy and satisfied
he then continued his journey.
This happened in 1551."
This saying decorates the entry to Hotel Elefant and provides proof of its history. The house was first mentioned in an official document in the 14th century. Archduke Maximilian from Austria, later Emperor Maximilian II, visited the hotel with his elephant "Soliman
" in 1551. The hotel name is due to this occurrence. The journey of the elephant
from the distant country of India to the Alps is a small wonder of European history, which enchants everyone who gets to know about it, and this for more than 450 years. Also the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Josè Saramango, was fascinated by this story and dedicated an entire book to the journey of the elephant.
There is historical evidence for the arrival of the elephant in Ora in 1551. At that time, the guesthouse was still called "Zur Hylbe".
Soliman the elephant was a present of the Portuguese King Johann III to his nephew archduke Maximilian of Austria, the later Emperor Maximilian II.
Nobody in Europe from the 16th century had ever seen such an animal. Huge, with a trunk and big tusks, the elephant was a sensation and welcomed with triumph when it arrived in Ora in December of 1551 with a huge retinue.
The elephants' journey from Spain to Vienna took 5 months. On the 12th of November 1551, Soliman got to Genoa, from where the journey continued via Piacenza, Mantua, Verona, Padova and to the north. The royal journey continued through Val d'Adige, reached Trento on the 13th of December, and only some days later arrived to Ora. It continued to Bolzano, Bressanone, Innsbruck, Salzburg and Vienna, where the elephant was welcomed to the city with big celebrations on the 7th of May 1552. Still today, in some villages and cities where the elephant stopped, you can find guesthouses and hotels called "zum Elefanten" (to the Elephant).
The boat trip from Barcelona to Genova was no joy for the elephant, nor was the long march over the Alps, which wasn't at all easy due to the wintry conditions. Unfortunately, the elephant did not recover from the long journey. The poor animal died in December, probably due to incorrect feeding, but also because it was homesick.
Our Hotel Elefant owes its success to its wonderful history and the families' hospitality over centuries.
For more than 500 years, our motto has been quality and duration. We are the 5th generation to operate the hotel. Our history obliges us to care for the future. We hope the journey of the elephant may go on for much longer, and would be pleased if you join us on this journey for a while.