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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.

Trostburg
Trostburg - Photo: Wolfgang Moroder - GFDL

The Trostburg is first mentioned in 1173 as the seat of Konrad von Trostberg, but the origins of the castle are likely to date back to much earlier times. The oldest core of the castle that is recognizable today, the keep with the north-facing palas, dates back to the 13th century. At that time, the Trostburg was owned by the Lords of Veldthurns, who were notorious as highwaymen. Around 1290, it fell into the hands of the Counts of Tyrol, who in turn pledged it to the Lords of Villanders and Wolkenstein. For over 600 years, the Trostburg remained the ancestral seat of the Lords of Wolkenstein-Trostburg, who were raised to the status of barons under Emperor Friedrich III and to the rank of imperial counts in 1630. The legendary Oswald von Wolkenstein (1377 - 1445), poet, minnesinger, and politician, also spent his childhood at the Trostburg.

In the 14th century, the castle was expanded to the north, and in the 17th century, Engelhard Dietrich Graf von Wolkenstein-Trostburg generously rebuilt it in the Renaissance style, but even then the castle was only inhabited in the summer months. At the beginning of the 20th century, the complex was increasingly threatened by decay until it finally passed into the possession of the South Tyrolean Castle Institute in 1981. Subsequently, the Trostburg was carefully and meticulously restored, with efforts made to make the castle accessible to the public while preserving its special character. Since 2005, the castle has also been home to the South Tyrolean Castle Museum.

A visit to the Trostburg leads through the partly magnificent rooms with Romanesque columns, door and window arches, stucco and paneling from the Renaissance, magnificent frescoes, tiled stoves, and partly original furniture. The Gothic parlor with completely preserved paneling and a triple-vaulted beamed ceiling is particularly famous, as is the knight's hall with its richly decorated coffered ceiling, and the library and the chapel are also impressive. A stroll through the chambers provides a very lively impression of the living experience in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The coziness and homeliness of some rooms is surprising, even though the castle and fortress character always takes center stage.

The permanent exhibition of the South Tyrolean Castle Museum on the history of the castles of South Tyrol includes 86 highly interesting scale models of castles. The fortifications, towers, and battlements, as well as the surroundings of the Trostburg with the old vegetable garden and the tournament field, are also very charming.

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