No other village in this area is as present in local history as Herrstein. The look of the town's centre seems like an ideal of a medieval German small town. But the bricks alone don't tell us much and are in no way proof for a great past.
Herrstein owes its foundation to the fact that the small rock formation right where the trickle Dietersbach joins the Fischbach was somewhat suitable to build a castle upon. This should apparently have protected the grand nearby farms and manors at Niederwörresbach. At the foot of the castle, the so-called „Herren-Stein“ a little village was built, as it is often the case next to castles. The precise historic beginnings of the village are not clear, but on April 9th 1279, Herrstein and a knight called „Ruther from Heresteyn“ are first mentioned in a document.
In 1428 the territorial lord, count of Sponheim, eventually vested the slowly developing settlement the town privilege. The town fortification (of which we don't know whether or not it was formed before or after the town privilege) only offered protection to its inhabitants until the invention of firearms, which was appealing to people who wanted to settle there.
In the 17th and 18th centuryit caused the exact opposite, namely tempting enemys to attack, because they expected there to be a rich booty inside.
Therefore the inhabitants of Herrstein partly destroyed their own curtain wall in 1674, when enemies roamed the country. If it had been re-erected afterwards and if the second city gate that was planned for 1710 was actually built remains uncertain. Anyhow, in the first half of the 18th century the first tenement was built outside of the town wall.
Before, there had only been barns and the mills and tanneries, which were dependent on the water of the Fischbach river. The special position of the town was lost after the French Revolution. The further architectural development went quite slowly, because the community didn't take part in the general population boom of the 19th century. That's why, in the 18th and 19th century, it was enough to build another ring of streets outside of the town wall, reaching some of the buildings standing there.
The disadvantage of the minor development of the past 200 years turned into a unique chance for the town: nowhere else in the Nahe-Hunsrück area is a medieval village as well preserved as Herrstein. The restoration of the unique medieval town's centre that started in 1971 has now become propelling factor of tourism.