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Churches and Monasteries

In the "Holy Land of Tyrol" there are countless churches, chapels, wayside shrines and of course also monasteries and convents. The sacred buildings and the artworks, altars and frescoes contained therein not only testify to the piety of the population, but also to a great and extremely impressive cultural wealth. Many sacred places date back to much older, pre-Christian sanctuaries and thus conceal a long and mysterious history.

Tyrol was christianized quite early, although especially in the remote side valleys, much "heathen" customs persisted for a long time. Thus, churches and monasteries were built early on, and many foundations date back to the 6th or 7th century. One of the oldest churches in South Tyrol is the ruin of St. Peter near Kaltern. It resembles in its construction historical buildings in Aquileia and Milan and is said to have been built as early as the time of St. Vigilius in the 4th century.

Testimonies of long past centuries

The area of Tyrol was almost always faithfully Catholic and remained largely unaffected by the turmoil of the religious wars at the beginning of the modern era. The wave of Baroque reformation of the Counter-Reformation hardly affected South Tyrol, so that we find an exceptionally large number of medieval buildings here practically in their "original" state.

Some of these are real art historical jewels, such as the Prokulus church in Naturns, which dates back to the 7th century and is adorned with unique, wonderful frescoes. Other examples of Romanesque architecture are the Nikolauskirche in Matrei, St. Benedikt in Mals or the collegiate church of Innichen. There are also several highly interesting churches from the Gothic period, such as the Liebfrauenkirche in Schwaz, the court church in Innsbruck, the hospital church in Vipiteno, the Dominican monastery in Bolzano, and of course the magnificent cathedral of Bolzano.

The monasteries and convents are also significant, such as those in Stams, Wilten, Marienberg, Säben or Neustift, as well as the episcopal sees in Innsbruck and Brixen.

Our vacation tip: Why not take a vacation in a monastery? Many monasteries already offer this possibility, to spend restful, fulfilling, and perhaps even meaningful vacation days in the quiet and secluded atmosphere of the monastery walls.

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Tartsch with Mals
Mystical Tartscher Bühel

In Tartsch, one finds the legendary Tartscher Bühel with the small church St. Veit. The Bühel rises above the so-called Malser Haide and offers a fantastic view of Mals or Glurns.

Holy Spirit Little Church in Kasern
Die Heilig-Geist-Kirche in Kasern

In the Ahrntal, in the northernmost tip of Italy, is one of the most beautiful and interesting pilgrimage sites in the country.

Pilgrimage Church of Maria Schnee in Obermauern
Michael Kranewitter - CC BY-SA 3.0
Pilgrimage Church of Maria Schnee in Virgen

In the district of Obermauern in the municipality of Virgen in East Tyrol stands the pilgrimage church Maria Schnee, a jewel of the late Gothic period, which fortunately has not fallen victim to the ‘building rage‘ of the Baroque, as so many other churches have.

Tomb monument of Emperor Maximilian in the Court Church
Photo: Wikipedia-User: Daderot - Public Domain
Innsbrucker Hofkirche - The cenotaph of Emperor Maximilian

One of the top attractions in Innsbruck is the Court Church with the famous tomb of Emperor Maximilian I. This tomb, with its 28 larger-than-life bronze figures and the high grave, is one of the most imposing imperial tombs in modern European history and at the same time a testimony to a supra-regional courtly culture.

Waltherplatz with the Parish Church in Bolzano
Bozner Dom, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture

The Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary with its distinctive tower is the landmark of the South Tyrolean provincial capital Bolzano. The city parish church of Bolzano has also been a bishop‘s church and co-cathedral of the newly created Diocese of Bolzano-Brixen since 1964, with the cathedral chapter remaining in Brixen.

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