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Castles and Palaces in South Tyrol and Tyrol

Tyrol and South Tyrol are one of the most castle-rich regions in Europe. In South Tyrol alone, we find around 800 castles, fortresses, and residences. This large number of fortifications is naturally due to the strategic and economic importance of the trade routes that run through South Tyrol and Tyrol. The routes over the Reschen Pass and later over the Brenner Pass have been among the most important north-south connections in the Alps since ancient times. Accordingly, control over these transit routes was hotly contested.

The construction of castles experienced a true heyday in the 11th and 12th centuries. The domains were still quite fragmented, and the Tyrolean princes as well as their ministeriales and other noble families built numerous castles to secure their territories. Many of them are impressive today due to their exposed location on steep cliffs high above the valley and their bold architecture. A second intensive phase of construction followed under Emperor Maximilian, when many castles were adapted for the new methods of warfare. The witnesses of this medieval "construction boom" can still be admired today, many of them now only as ruins, others still well preserved and in all their original splendor. Castle Tyrol, Taufers Castle, Trostburg, Churburg, Bruck Castle, and Kufstein Fortress are just a few of these impressive castle complexes.

Hocheppan Castle
Hocheppan Castle
Korb Boimont Castle and Hocheppan
Korb Boimont Castle and Hocheppan
Taufers Castle
Taufers Castle
Englar Castle with castle chapel
Englar Castle with castle chapel
Lebenberg Castle
Lebenberg Castle
Vorst Castle
Vorst Castle
Thaur Castle Ruins
Thaur Castle Ruins - Photo: Hermann Hammer - Public Domain
Castle in winter
Castle in winter - © Tirol West - Gapp Rupert
The Fischburg with Langkofel
The Fischburg with Langkofel

Witnesses of history

In later centuries, castles lost their significance as fortifications. In the Renaissance and Baroque periods, living, comfort, and representation took center stage. The old castles were "modernized" or fell into disrepair, and new palaces were built in their place. Examples of such magnificent Renaissance palaces are, for example, Ambras Castle, Prösels Castle, Velthurns Castle, and Tratzberg Castle. The Baroque Wolfsthurn Palace, Trauttmansdorff Castle, or the grand Innsbruck Hofburg are impressive examples of such representative buildings.

Our tip: There is plenty to discover in the castles and palaces in South Tyrol and Tyrol. Many of them house museums with highly interesting collections from history, art, and culture. They are often also used for theater performances, concerts, festivals, and events. Let yourself be enchanted and take a journey into history and the fascinating world of past eras.

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Hofburg in Brixen
Hofburg Brixen / Bressanone

Until the year 1803, the Hofburg in Brixen, located at Hofburgplatz 2, was the residence of the Prince-Bishops and until the year 1973 the residence of the bishops of the diocese. Today, the Hofburg houses the diocesan archive, the nativity museum, and the diocesan museum.

Photo: Wolfgang Moroder - GFDL
The castles and fortresses of the Eisack Valley - South Tyrol

The Eisack valley hosts one of the most important transit routes in the Eastern Alps. The enormous economic and strategic importance of the valley is reflected not least in the many castles and palaces that are strung here almost like pearls on a necklace.

Schenna Castle
Schloss Schenna / Castello di Scena

Schenna Castle looks back on an almost 650-year history.

Schloss Starkenberg
© Imst Tourismus
Beer Myth at Starkenberg Castle

What you always wanted to know about beer: Find out here! At Schloss Starkenberg above Tarrenz near Imst in Tyrol, you dive into a fabulous world of experience that revolves all around the golden barley juice.

Churburg / Castello Coira in Sluderno

One of the most powerful and beautiful castle complexes in South Tyrol is located on the hills above Schluderns in the Vinschgau: the Churburg. The Churburg is named after the bishops of Chur, the original lords of the castle. Prince-Bishop Heinrich von Montfort had it built around 1255 as a bulwark against the rising and rebellious Matsch Counts, who were in constant feud with the diocese of Chur.

Schloss Bruneck
Mountain Museum Ripa at Bruneck Castle

The MMM Ripa is the fifth and last station of the Messner Mountain Museums, which are distributed all over South Tyrol, of the famous mountaineer Reinhold Messner.

Photo: Wolfgang Moroder - GFDL
Trostburg in the Eisack Valley

Anyone who has ever driven through the Eisack Valley heading south knows the Trostburg. Majestically, it sits on the mountainside above the village of Waidbruck at the entrance to the Val Gardena, one of the most beautiful and impressive castle complexes in South Tyrol.

Säben Abbey
Photo: Wikipedia-User: Papanugue - GNU-FDL
Kloster Säben (Abbey)

Well 200m above Klausen in the Eisack Valley, the Säben Abbey is prominently visible on a striking rock. Picturesquely surrounded by vineyards, Säben is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful monastery complexes in South Tyrol.

Prösels Castle near Völls (built around 1200)
Schloss Prösels (Castel)

Prösels Castle is one of the most beautiful Renaissance complexes in South Tyrol. It is located on the way to Kastelruth just before Völs am Schlern on the right side of the road in a charming, park-like landscape.

Sigmundskron Castle
Richard Huber - CC BY-SA 3.0
Messner Mountain Museum Firmian at Sigmundskron near Bolzano

In 2006, one of the biggest tourist attractions in the vicinity of Bolzano was opened: the ‘Messner Mountain Museum Firmian‘ in the late medieval fortress of Sigmundskron Castle.

Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle
Trauttmansdorff Castle

The gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle near Merano are probably the most beautiful in South Tyrol and maybe even in all of Italy. Covering an area of 12 hectares, more than 80 exemplary natural and cultural landscapes from around the world can be admired.

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