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(South) Tyrolean

History, Customs and Culture

In South Tyrol and Tyrol, we are on truly historic ground. The north-south routes across the main Alpine ridge have always been of great interest to people and have therefore been fought over time and again. At the same time, they have also always been places of encounter and cultural exchange. The natural resources in the Alpine valleys – silver, copper, zinc, iron ore in particular, but also gold – were coveted and brought prosperity and cultural flourishing.

The region's long and rich history is visible everywhere. The traces of the earliest settlers, Celts and Rhaetians, may be buried, and not much is left of the Romans; but from the Middle Ages onwards, there is rich evidence: numerous castles, churches, monasteries, but also bourgeois houses and mansions can be found everywhere in the country and bring long past times back to life.

Gardena Traditional Costume
Gardena Traditional Costume
Horse-drawn Carriage
Horse-drawn Carriage
Customs in Deutschnofen
Customs in Deutschnofen
Andreas Hofer
Andreas Hofer

Living Past…

The mountains, and especially the Dolomites, are also the setting for numerous fairy tales and legends. There is a legend for almost every castle or ruin and for many a bizarre rock formation, and one of the oldest and most famous heroic epics in the German-speaking world, the legend of King Laurin and Dietrich of Bern, is set in the Adige Valley and the Rosengarten.

Even the more recent past, from the division of Tyrol after the First World War to the South Tyrolean Autonomy Statute of 1972, has left its mark. In the united Europe, these conflicts have now become obsolete, and the peaceful coexistence of the ethnic groups is to the advantage of all.

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…Vital Tradition

With such a varied past, it is not surprising that the population in South Tyrol and Tyrol has a deep awareness of history and tradition. The care of traditions and customs reflects this historical awareness as well as an intimate connection to the homeland. There are not many places today where traditions are still lovingly and authentically maintained as they are here. Not only are church holidays celebrated solemnly, but old customs of pagan origin, such as the Perchten or Krampus runs, are fixed components of people's lives. Sacred Heart and solstice fires are highlights of the calendar year, and immensely spectacular experiences for holidaymakers. The Christmas markets are also atmospheric and unforgettable for every visitor.

Traditional craftsmanship is also still cultivated and honored. Wooden masks from Ahrntal, Christmas cribs from Val Gardena, or quill embroidery from Schnalstal are just a few of the special and regionally typical craft traditions that are still in full bloom.

Our Tip:

You don't have to look far! Tradition and craftsmanship are at the center of numerous events, whether it's a gourmet festival or a village fair; many craft businesses also invite you to visit. In Tyrol and South Tyrol, tradition is not just folklore, but a living everyday reality. More information in the comprehensive overview of South Tyrol.

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Pens in the Sarntal
Why is Pentecost celebrated? - Traditions and customs in South Tyrol

Pentecost is a holiday, everyone knows that. But why actually? We have pursued the question of what exactly is celebrated at Pentecost and which Pentecost traditions are still alive in South Tyrol.

Stelvio Pass
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In Stilfs in the Vinschgau, an old custom has been preserved, which is revived every year on the Saturday before or after Saint Nicholas‘ Day.

South Tyrol Getting-to-know-you Days
The languages in South Tyrol - land of linguistic diversity

As diverse as the South Tyrolean landscape, so too is the language. Dialects change after just a few localities and locals immediately know from which part of the country the other person comes.

Christmas Stollen
Tyrol vacation during Advent: Traditional customs

The Advent and Christmas season is a very special time, characterized by numerous traditions. We introduce you to some typical customs from Tyrol.

Advent in the Silver Region Karwendel
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During the time before Christmas, customs are very important in Tyrol: People meet at various Christmas markets, enjoy regional delicacies, or listen to the melodies of different brass groups.

Sacred Heart Fire
Photo: Wikipedia-User: Noclador - GFDL
The top South Tyrolean cultural events

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Easter in Imst
© Foto: Imst Tourismus (Abdruck honorarfrei)
Easter in Imst

In Imst, some ancient customs are still maintained during Easter time. The focus is on the “Bergl“, the Calvary hill, a cult site whose history dates back far into pre-Christian times.

Palm donkey procession in Thaur
© Palmeselprozession in Thaur
Palm Donkey Procession in Thaur

In the village of Thaur near Innsbruck, an old Easter tradition is still maintained: On Palm Sunday, a “Palm donkey procession“ takes place just as it did 200 years ago.

The blue apron
© Südtirol Marketing/Stefano Scatà
The blue apron

Anyone who walks through South Tyrol with open eyes will soon notice that the farmers and craftsmen here wear a blue apron on workdays. It is an integral part of the workwear and shapes the image of South Tyrol like no other piece of clothing.

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Wooden masks from the Ahrntal
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Imster Schemenlaufen
Photo: TVB Imst - Lizenz: CC BY-ND 2.0
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Zusslrennen in Prad
Foto: ©
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Doggln traditional footwear from Tyrol
© Alpbachtal Seenland Tourismus
Doggln – traditional footwear from Tyrol

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Advent in the Silver Region Karwendel
Advent in the Silver Region Karwendel

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Krampus run in Toblach
Krampus Run in Dobbiaco

The largest and oldest Krampus run in South Tyrol takes place in Toblach in the Hochpustertal. Over 250 devils and Krampuses participate, causing mischief as darkness falls.

Tavern signs in Tyrol and South Tyrol
Foto: © WanderGroschi & CGK
Inn signs in Tyrol and South Tyrol

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Tyrolean Advent
Customs during the Advent season

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The Haydn Orchestra
© Das Haydn Orchester
The Haydn Orchestra

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Martini in South Tyrol
Foto: © Dieter Schütz -
Martini in South Tyrol

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Wind music band
Kurverwaltung Meran - CC BY-SA 2.0
Tyrolean Brass Music

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Cattle on the Alpine pasture
Photo: Madeleine Schäfer - GNU-FDL
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Getreideharpfen in Tyrol
Cereal harp in Tyrol

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Les Viles
Les Viles

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Traditional Perchten runs in Tyrol
Traditional Perchten runs in Tyrol

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Christmas Market Brixen
Tourismusverein Brixen
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Kathreine Market in the Tauferer Ahrntal
Catherine Market in the Taufer Valley Ahrntal

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Tourist INFO Bruneck/Flickr
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© Imst Tourismus
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Tyrolean Easter tomb
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Klöckeln, an Advent tradition in the Sarntal
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Almabtrieb Kufstein
Photo: Wikipedia-User: Saharadesertfox - GFDL
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Rifle company - salute of honor
Photo: Wikipedia-User: Henryart - GFDL
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Photo: flickr-User: digital cat - CC BY 2.0
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Tyrolean Hat
Photo: Wikipedia-User: Axelator - Public Domain
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The Rosengarten (2981 m) at sunset
King Laurin‘s Rose Garden

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The Kirchtagsmichl in Pustertal
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Sacred Heart Fire
Photo: Wikipedia-User: Noclador - GFDL
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Bell casting in Tyrol
© Torsten Bolten CC BY-SA 3.0
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