Naturns is known because of the beautiful nature that surrounds the town but also because of one of the oldest churches in South Tyrol called St. Proculus that dates back to the 7th century.
It was built between 630 and 650 in place of an old house that stood here before. The church is dedicated to St. Proculus who was a bishop of Verona and survived the persecutions of Diocletian.
St. Proculus church was restored between the 12th and the 14th century. In the 14th century it was used by the Annenberg family as a burial ground. In the 17th century the plague was spreading across Europe and every 4th inhabitant of Naturns died because of this disease. Close to the church a mass grave has been established.
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The fields around the church are full of fruit trees. I have never seen so many fruit trees anywhere else. Even when you drive towards Naturns you can see that it's the main product of the region. Fruit trees are everywhere and you can occasionally enjoy cold short shower as the irrigation system is rotating to cover all the trees and it very often happens that paths are sprayed too 😊
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Most of the fruit trees in the neighborhood are apples. If you look carefully you can see many apples hanging on the trees.
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Behind the field is the entrance to the church..
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The church itself is very small but still impressive. The entrance fee is EUR 2.50 and you will be guided by a local person who will try to answer all your questions.
The guide told us that all frescoes are original and that the church is a national monument. The frescoes are the most ancient frescoes of the German speaking area and the most complete early fresco cycle of Tyrol. The oldest frescoes date back to italicsthe 7th century.
In the past people tried to renovate the frescoes and painted missing parts on the walls but it is forbidden now. The frescoes should be kept in their original state and no renovation is allowed as it would be difficult to recognize the old and new parts after the work would be finished.
Next to the St. Proculus church is the Proculus Museum, which was inaugurated in 2006. The museum is dedicated to the unique fresco that was found in the church and also to the historical plague cemetery located outside the church.
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The underground museum takes visitors into 1500 years of history of the area around Naturns. Four installations present the Late Antiquity, Early Medieval, Gothic and Plague eras.
We arrived before the lunch break and had approximately 45 minutes for our stay, but it was enough for us. If you would like to read every sign it would take you considerably longer...
These models show us how the construction of the church...
This part refers to the plague and talks about how people were dying and how it was not possible to help them. The plague quickly spread through Europe and corpses littered the streets.
The victim’s skin turned black in patches and inflamed glands in the groin, combined with compulsive vomiting, swollen tongue and splitting headaches made it a horrible, agonizing killer.
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The most exciting and valuable part of the museum are the frescoes that were transferred from the St. Proculus church. These frescoes were discovered in 1923.
This fresco depicts St. Catherine. She is the patron of philosophers and scholars and is believed to help protect against sudden death.
The legend says that during her torture, she professed that she had consecrated her virginity to Jesus Christ, her spouse, and was sentenced to death. The spiked wheel by which she was to be killed broke when she touched it, and she was then beheaded.
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The crucifixion fresco dates back to 1330/1340. This fresco was found under another crucifixion fresco from 1400. It was attached to the younger fresco because at the time of its creation, the color blended and glued together. The restoration successfully separated those two frescoes and created a second original work.
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Although the church and the museum are small in size, they capture long history of Naturns and show us various aspects of life in the valley. These buildings might not be impressive from outside, but it is worth going there as you will discover fascinating details inside.
I must say that I enjoyed both and if driving there wouldn't be so difficult I would definitely come back.
I hope you have enjoyed another tour with me.
Thank you for reading,