Etschradroute places

Published on:  | Last updated: 13 July 2019


Marienberg Abbey

High on the valley side above Burgeis (Burgusio), the Benedictine abbey at Marienberg is an impressive sight. At an altitude of 1340 metres, it is Europe's highest abbey.

There's a museum in the abbey, but the major reason for visiting is to see the crypt of the Abbey church which has some beautiful Romanesque frescoes, that have been miracu­lously well preserved. Unfortunately, the need to preserve the frescoes means that there are only very limited oppor­tun­ities to visit the crypt. There are weekly guided tours in German and Italian, or you can see the crypt when it is open for the prayers at Vespers in the early evening. If you visit the museum, you can watch a video of the frescoes. For more inform­ation (and a couple of pictures of the frescoes) see the Abbey's website marienberg.it.

Glurns (Glorenza)

Glurns, officially Italy's smallest city, is a must-see, even if all you do is make a short detour to have a quick look at the main square and the surrounding porticoed streets.

It's worth making a small circuit to get a better view of the city walls. The gps download package includes a track file for a suggested route, if you want to check it out here it is (link opens in an overlay):  circuit of the Glurns city Walls (credits: map design by openfietsmap.nl map data: Open Street Map).

The Schloss Churburg (Castel Coira)

If you don't mind a short detour from the route, you can visit the Schloss Churburg (Castel Coira) in nearby Schluderns which is quite possibly the area's most beautiful castles. The castle is open every day except Monday. Check the website for opening times.

Schloss Churburg near Schluderns

The Schloss Churburg near Schluderns. Photographer: Armin Kübelbeck, CC-BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons

Laas

Laas is famous for the quarry, high up on the valley side, where they quarry white marble. According to the Lasa Marmo website, the marble has been used in sculp­tures in major cities across the world. Among the most famous works of Lasa Marble are the General-Moltke-Monument in Berlin, the Monumental Pallas Athena Fountain in front of the Parliament in Vienna, the Queen-Victoria-Memorial in front of the Buckingham Palace in London, and the Heinrich-Heine-Memorial in New York (see lasamarmo.it: Works of Art) for a gallery. Lasa marble is also used in the crosses in US military cemeteries in four continents, marking the graves of 90,000 US soldiers who died in the Second World War.

Marble from Laas was also used for the milestones along the Via Claudia Augusta.

Just outside the town you can see the funicular railway climbing up the valley side (the cycleway crosses over it at a level crossing). The railway is still used to transport blocks of marble from the quarry high above Laas down to the riverside — these are taken by cable car from the quarry to the upper-level railway, and then from there to the station you can see at the top of the funicular, and then by funicular down from there. The funicular is capable of carrying blocks of up to 40 tons. Before it was built, the blocks of marble were trans­ported down from the mountain using tree trunks as rollers.

If you want to see the Laaser Marmorbahn (Laas Marble Railway) in action (and really, how could you resist?) there's a video here:

Look out for the water fountain at the bridge made out of a single block of marble. It's worth the short detour over the bridge to admire the village square that's paved with blocks of white marble (the Gasthaus Zur Krone is also a great place for lunch).

You should see other artworks along the route — in 2017 Laas started an annual Laaser Marmor Atelier (Laas Marble Workshop, where six young sculptors are invited to come to Laas at the end of July and given a block of marble and a week to produce a sculpture. The workshop is the centrepiece of the Marmor & Marillen (Marble and Apricots) festival. During the week you can watch them working in the main square.




Latsch: Spitalkirche Zur Heilig Dreifaltigkeit (Church of the Holy Trinity)

A short way off the route, in Latsch is the Spitalkirche Zur Heilig Dreifaltigkeit (Church of the Holy Trinity). The altar by sculptor Jörg Lederer is a master­piece. There are also some inter­esting frescoes and a baroque altar. The church dates back to 1337 and the altar to 1520.

The church is open every day from 7:30 until 17:30. Probably the easiest way to get to it is to detour off the route at the lift station following Seilbahnweg (Via Funivia). The entrance is opposite number 13 — shared with an old people's home (altenheim), which looks like an upmarket apartment block.

If you take the main road into Latsch note that you need to go through the gate 50 metres along the road from the church — again the entrance is shared with the old people's home.

The Schloss Juval (Juval Messner Mountain Museum)

The Schloss Juval is on a rocky outcrop near Staben, above the point where the SS38 disap­pears into the hillside. The Schloss Juval is now the Juval Messner Mountain Museum.

You can only visit the museum as part of a guided tour and these only seem to be in German. The museum is open in May, June, September and October but closed in July and August. For more inform­ation about visiting see: messner-mountain-museum.it. You could hike up, or there is a shuttle that runs every 30 minutes. The stop for the shuttle is across the bridge from the Radbar radstation (bar) 750 metres downriver from Staben.

The Sankt Prokulus frescoes

I’d highly recommend a stop at the Sankt Prokulus church at Naturns. The church dates back to the 7th/​8th century and contains some excep­tional frescoes - also dating back to the 7th/​8th century. They are the oldest frescoes from the German-speaking world. They were white­washed over in the 14th and 15th centuries and painted over. The original frescoes were redis­covered in 1912. They include the wonderful picture, the ‘Schaukler’ (the swinger) - thought to be of Saint Proculus (bishop of Verona) on what looks like a swing. The church and next-door museum are open every day in summer, except Mondays, and closes for lunch between midday and 14:30.

Click the image below to see a gallery of five pictures of the frescoes. All the pictures, with the exception of the photo on this page, are by Wikimedia Commons contributor Dietrich Krieger.

Frescoes from the Sankt Prokulus church in Naturns

Frescoes from the Sankt Prokulus church in Naturns. Photo by 'Albris'. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Click on image for gallery.

Meran (Merano)

Meran's main claim to fame is as the first base for the Counts of Tirol who went on to become the Habsburg dynasty with a global empire. The Schloss Tirol is high on the valley side. You can see it as you approach the city.

If you have the time for a stopover in Meran the castle really is a highlight. As well as the superb views over the wine country, the castle has a couple of doorways with some excep­tional Romanesque sculp­tures, and the {name of the chapel}.

If you do decide to visit the castle then you can combine it with a walk along Tappeiner Weg, a 6-kilometre panoramic walk. As I found out the hard way, the easiest option is to take the bus to Dorf Tirol (the nearest village to the castle) and then return to Meran along the Tappeinerweg.

Meran is also famous for its thermal baths and for the jugendstil (art nouveau) Kurhaus. This now operates as a conference venue and there's no inform­ation about visits. There's also the Stadttheater. Again there's no inform­ation about visits but you may be able to admire the foyer, or buy tickets for a show.


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