From the Arlberg in the west, the Zugspitze in the north and the Loferer Steinberge in the east the province of Tirol extends southward to the main Alpine chain. It is a land of passes - the Thurn pass, the Brenner, the Reschen (Resia) pass, the Timmelsjoch, the Gerlospass, the Achenpass, the Zirler Berg and the Arlberg, to name only the most important. The only approach to Tirol which does not go over a pass is the route through the Inn valley via Kufstein, where the river emerges from the mountains into the Alpine foreland; and this is accordingly the route followed by the principal road, motorway and rail connections.
Landeck lies south of the Lechtal Alps in the upper Inn valley, at the junction of the Sanna with the Inn. The roads from the Arlberg and the Reschen (Resia) pass meet here, and the approaches to both passes were thus commanded by the castle which overlooks the town. Landeck dominates the East-West link between Vienna and Zürich and Lindau, as well as the North-South links between western Germany and Italy. It is also a winter sports center.
On the south bank of the Inn northeast of Landeck lies the parish of Zams (775m/2,543ft); note the parish church with its Roccoco altars. On a hill are the Kronburg ruins (1380), once one of the largest castles in northern Tirol. To the north stretches the Zammer Loch, a gorge on the Lochbach, with the Lötzer Wasserfall (waterfall). From Zams the Venet cableway, 3,550m/11,650ft long, runs southeastward up the Krahberg (2,208m/7,244ft), a peak in the Venet massif, with Landeck's main skiing area (several ski lifts, ski swing). The Venetberg (2,513m/8,245ft) is an easy one and a half hours' climb.
The parish church was built in 1471 on the site of an older place of worship which, together with those at Seefeld and Schwaz, was one of the most important Gothic churches in northern Tirol. The nave is twice as high as the side aisles, and in the pediment of the west door is a relief depicting the Mother and Child with two angels. The most notable feature is the Late Gothic winged altar (16th C.; later additions). Let into the south wall is the covering stone from the grave of the knight Oswald von Schrofenstein (15th C.), as well as two carved death masks.
On the hill above the town stands Burg Landeck (c. 1200; later alterations and partially restored in 1949). It has a massive and impressive keep and there are extensive views from the tower. Note also the hall with Gothic vaulting and the frescos in the 16th C. chapel. The castle now houses a local museum displaying Tirolese art treasures (open June-Oct.).
Above Landeck to the north, on the northern bank of the Sanna, lies the old village of Stanz (1,035m/3,396ft), birthplace of the Baroque architect Jakob Prandtauer (1660-1726). The Late Gothic church is one of the oldest in the region, and there is a fine view of the valley (local bus). Higher up to the northeast, on a crag, can be seen the ruins of Burg Schrofenstein (first recorded 1196; views).
The Gerlospass straggles the border between the Tirol and Salzburg provinces in Austria. From Salzburg the Gerlos Road rises to the pass out of the Salaach Valley, past the Krimml Falls. Once over the pass the road continues past the village of Gerlos and descends to the Zillertal Valley in Tirol.
The straggling mountain village of Gerlos (1,245m/4,085ft; pop. 550), a summer and winter sports resort, has a parish church (1730-35) with an interior in rustic Baroque style.Several festivities are held in Gerlos in the summer time. Amongst these are; the annual 'sheep shearing drive' and the 'cattle drive', the homecoming of cows, sheep and cattle from other villages. These events are accompanied with song and dance and festive food.
Thurn Pass Road
A road branches off to the northwest from Mittersill to the Thurn pass (1,232m/4,042ft), with fine views of the Salzach valley and the Hohe Tauern; from the pass there is a chairlift to the Resterhöhe (1,894m/6,214ft).