South Tyrol is a region with around 800 castles and if you know me a bit, I'm sure you won't be surprised when I tell you that we couldn't miss the opportunity to visit at least one of them during our stay.
Castle Tyrol (also known as Schloss Tirol in German or Castel Tirolo in Italian) is towering above the Adige valley close to Merano. It used to be the seat of the Counts of Tyrol in the past and the region of South Tyrol is named after this castle.
The distance from Naturno to Merano is around 13 km and it should take you less than 20 minutes by car. Unless you have a tractor ahead of you and too much traffic to be able to take it over..
After 40 minutes (I'm sure we would be faster if we would go by bikes) we arrived in Merano, ate pizza for lunch (you have to eat pizza when you're in Italy) and drove up the hill to the castle.
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The road around the castle is closed and the parking place nearby is around 30 minutes walk from the castle. This wouldn't be a problem if it wouldn't be 38 Degrees Celsius and no shadow on the way. But it was my birthday weekend and I wouldn't get frustrated.. NO, I wouldn't..
Who am I kidding? Of course, I was frustrated. I was walking and walking and walking and the castle was still so far away. It was too hot, I was sweating, forgot my cap in the car and was too stubborn to go back and get it.. and I blamed my poor husband for all my troubles 😊
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I relaxed a bit when we got closer to the castle and I started to look forward to it again..
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I realized that all the effort was worth the views that we got on the way..
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After the last steep climb we finally reached the castle and purchased our tickets (entrance fee is EUR 7 per person).
Our tour can start!
First of all, we planned to explore the castle itself and then we wanted to visit the South Tyrol Museum of Culture and Provincial History that is located in the tower.
The museum shows the recent political and cultural events in the region which is interesting as South Tyrol belonged to the Habsburg monarchy for more than 500 years and it was annexed to Italy in 1919. This history is still present in the daily life of people. Are you asking how? One example would be that people here speak German instead of Italian.
Let's get back to the castle...
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Castle Tyrol dates back to the 11th century and it was erected by the Counts of Vinschgau, who later took title as the Counts of Tyrol. Over the years there were many alterations to the castle, but the most important ones happened in the 19th and 20th centuries. The castle became a national monument in the 19th century.
It consists of the South Palace with its adjoining chapel, the East Palace, the Walkway, the Refectory, the Refectory Cellar, the Keep, the Kitchen Yard and the service buildings. There is also a shop with nice souvenirs from the region and a cozy café.
Inside the castle lies a treasure of archaeological finds from the 12th century.
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Let's go inside!
The chapel was built at the beginning of the 12th century and it is dedicated to St. Pankras. In the 13th century the one storey chapel was enlarged, and another storey was added to provide the rulers with a separate space.
There are original Gothic frescoes on the wall, and we spent some time exploring them. They were finished in 1330 and most of them can be associated with the Virgin Mary.
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When you enter the chapel, your eyes will immediately fall on an impressive crucifixion group. It was created at the beginning of the 14th century and recently restored in 2002.
A legend says that a piece of the cross falls off at the death of each ruling prince.
Behind the crucifixion group is the oldest surviving winged altarpiece in the Alpine area which was created towards the end of the 14th century. It was donated by brothers Leopold III and Albert III and produced in Vienna.
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The castles offers some spectacular views of its surroundings...
This covered walkway was built at the beginning of the 20th century to connect the East Palace and the Refectory which lies to the north.
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The view of the courtyard from the walkway..
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And the view from the tower..
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I don't have photos from the museum that is in the tower as the exposition is very factual and there were no interesting artefacts that I would like to share with you. I would however still recommend visiting the museum if you like to learn about historical events from this region.
The trip to Castle Tyrol was a perfect day trip and I would say that you should give it a go if you happen to be around.
If not, then I hope that you have enjoyed the tour with me.
Thank you for reading,