Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s Favorite Office in Switzerland Restored by Hodges Foundation for Philosophical Orientation

by Reinhard Mueller


Photo by The Hodges Foundation for Philosophical Orientation

In search for a climate and weather most therapeutic for his poor health, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) discovered his favorite place for working in the Swiss region of Upper Engadin in Graubünden, the village of Sils Maria in the midst of a beautiful valley.

More than a mile above sea level amid a chain of lakes and surrounded by mountains, the philosopher wrote to his friend Franz Overbeck, “I have taken possession of the Engadine and I’m like in my element, quite miraculous! I am related to this nature. Now I feel relief.”

Taken with the majesty of his surroundings, he sought to keep his idyllic find to himself. “Hide my whereabouts from everyone,” he wrote.

Nietzsche would go on to spend seven summers in Sils Maria, spending some of his most productive months here. He rented a small room in “Haus Durisch” in Sils-Maria.

Photo by The Hodges Foundation for Philosophical Orientation

During hikes he went on for several hours, sometimes days, he scribbled his thoughts into notebooks; in his small room, which he called “his cave,” he prepared the manuscripts of many of his most important works, such as The Joyful Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Beyond Good and Evil, On the Genealogy of Morality, The Case of Wagner, Twilight of the Idols, and The Antichrist.

Paul Deussen, Nietzsche’s friend and a professor of philosophy, later reported his memories visiting Nietzsche:

The next morning he took me to his apartment, or as he said, to his cave. It was a simple room in a farmhouse, three minutes from the road: Nietzsche rented it during the season for one franc a day. The furnishings were the simplest imaginable. On one side there were his books, most of which I still knew well from earlier times, followed by a rustic table with coffee cup, eggshells, manuscripts, toiletries in a colorful jumble, which continued via a boot jack with a boot on it to his unmade bed.

Photo by The Hodges Foundation for Philosophical Orientation

But when Nietzsche first stayed in this small room, the walls were too bright for his sensitive eyes. In 1883 he had the wallpaper replaced with dark green colors in a pattern that he chose. A dark-green tablecloth matched the wallpaper, providing his “cave” with an atmosphere very conducive for his focused writing.

As the decades passed more and more damage in the room became visible until The Hodges Foundation for Philosophical Orientation (HFPO) founders Mike and Tina Hodges saw it in the summer of 2022. The couple offered to help restore the room and the people running the Nietzsche-Haus gladly accepted the offer.

Photo by The Hodges Foundation for Philosophical Orientation

Only about five square feet of Nietzsche’s green wallpaper survived, tucked under some wood paneling that was added later. It was enough to use as a template to recreate the wallcovering, and together with the restoration of the deteriorated ceiling, molding and trim – together with the carefully reconstituted furniture – the chamber was returned to its original, pristine condition.

Now, we can again experience Nietzsche’s “cave” the way he did over 120 years ago and revisit the atmosphere in which he spent some of his most prolific and creative months.

HFPO has a special connection to Sils Maria going beyond Nietzsche’s room: not only were the official documents for the founding of our foundation signed here in July 2018 by its founding members, Tina and Mike Hodges, Werner Stegmaier, and Reinhard G. Mueller, but it has also been a destination of multiple visits by HFPO in order to attend its annual Nietzsche Workshops as well as to explore Nietzsche’s favorite landscape during hikes.

Werner Stegmaier, whose philosophy of orientation the HFPO is based on, is also a board member of the Nietzsche-Haus Foundation and a world-renowned Nietzsche expert.

– – –

Background Photo ” Friedrich Nietzsche’s Favorite Room” by The Hodges Foundation for Philosophical Orientation



Related posts