The province of Tirol - which takes its name from the ancestral castle of the Counts of Tirol at Merano in Italy - is bounded on the east by Carinthia and Salzburg provinces, on the south by Italy (Alto Adige), on the west by Vorarlberg and Switzerland and on the north by Germany (Bavaria). The province is divided into two parts, North and East Tirol, separated from one another by the territory ceded to Italy in 1919, which is known there as Alto Adige.
A curiosity of geography is the enclave of Jungholz at the northwestern tip of the province, which is surrounded by Bavarian territory and within the German customs area.The name of Tirol calls to mind a whole range of associations - Andreas Hofer, the patriotic leader of the Napoleonic period; Innsbruck with its famous Maria Theresa Strasse and the Goldenes Dachl (golden roof); Bergisel, the mountain on which the battle of 1809 was fought; yodeling, schuhplattler dancing, the old Tirolese costumes; forests and Alpine meadows, rocks and ice; and winter sports.This territory in the heart of the Alps, with its intricate pattern of hills and valleys, is one of Europe's most popular holiday regions both in summer and winter. For many centuries it was an area of transit between Germany and Italy, its high valleys barely accessible to strangers and inhabited only by a few poor mountain peasants. These valleys still offer the same solitude and tranquillity, but most of them are now easily reached on good roads. The more important villages and towns grew up in the valleys and on the pass roads.Almost every kind of sport, but particularly winter, mountain and water sports, can be practiced in Tirol; and here, too, visitors can enjoy relaxing and health-giving holidays of a less energetic kind. Walking in the mountains is an experience well calculated to ease away the stresses of everyday life. Health and relaxation are promoted not only by physical activity but by the fresh mountain air and the brilliant sun. Among the many resorts - large and small, modest and fashionable - there are a number with excellent treatment facilities for those who need them.The natural beauties of Tirol are matched by its treasures of art; for surely few peoples have such a deeply rooted artistic sense as the Tirolese. Evidence of this is provided by the richly stocked Folk Museum in Innsbruck and many local museums. All over Tirol the visitor will encounter examples of an innate feeling for form and color - in secular no less than in religious buildings, and even in objects of everyday use.The people of Tirol are also noted for their cheerful good humor and love of fun. On high days and holidays many country people still wear their colorful traditional costumes. There are numerous festivals featuring costumes, marksmanship and music as well as other picturesque old customs and practices.HistoryIn the Palaeolithic period human groups, still at the hunting and food-gathering stage, moved into the Alps. In the Ice Age (sixth-third millennia B.C.) stock rearing and crop farming developed, and villages of pile dwellings were established on the lakes of the Pre-Alpine area. The working of minerals began in the Bronze Age (copper mining on the Kelchalpe and at Mitterberg, salt working at Hallein). In the Early Iron Age (800-400 BC) the salt working industry prospered, as is shown by the rich grave goods found at Hallstatt. The population of the Alps during this period consisted of Illyrians (cf. place names such as Wilten, Imst and Vomp).Between about 400 BC and the beginning of the Christian era Celts pressed into the region from the west, bringing with them the more highly developed culture of the Late Iron Age, and from the south the Etruscans advanced a short way into the Alps. The principal tribes during this period were the Raeti within the territory of Tirol and the Taurisci to the east. Between 113 and 101 BC Germanic tribes (the Cimbri and Teutons) advanced for the first time through the Eastern Alps into the Roman Empire.From 15 BC to AD 476 the Eastern Alps were under Roman rule, forming part of the provinces of Raetia (the Swiss Grisons and Tirol) and Noricum (Carinthia and Styria). Roads were built through the principal valleys and over the most important passes, and along these roads many Roman settlements, originally military posts, grew up alongside the older settlements - Veldidena (Wilten, near Innsbruck), Brigantium (Bregenz), Aguntum (near Lienz), etc.In 166 AD the Marcomanni ("border people") made a brief incursion through the Eastern Alps to the Adriatic.Between about 540 and 576 the Bajuwari (Bavarians) came in from the north under their hereditary dukes, the Agilofings, and occupied the Eastern Alps, while the Alamanni established themselves in the western part of the region.About 590 the Slovenes began to move into the Alps from the east. In 750 Duke Tassilo III of Bavaria came to the aid of the Slovenes against the Mongol Avars, and thereafter retained the overlordship of the region.In 774 Charlemagne conquered the Lombard kingdom, in 788 the duchy of Bavaria. Between 791 and 796 he defeated the Avars and established an Eastern March (Ostmark). In 876 a Carolingian, Arnulf, became Margrave ("Lord of the March") of Carinthia, and in 950 King Otto I of Germany advanced over the Brenner into Italy, the first German king to do so. After his victory at Augsburg (955) over the Hungarians, who had been pushing westward since 900, the Bavarian Eastern March (Austria) was re-established and a new March of Carinthia set up. In 976 the Emperor Otto II elevated Carinthia into an independent duchy.In 1142 the Count of the Vintschgau (now the Val Venosta in Italy) assumed the title of Count of Tirol, after the castle of that name in Merano. About 1170 Walther von der Vogelweide, the minnesinger and greatest German medieval lyricist, probably of Austro-Bavarian descent, was born (d. 1280 in Würzburg).In 1248, when the line of the Counts of Andechs died out, Count Albert IV of Tirol inherited their possessions in the Inn valley, the Wipptal and the Pustertal (Val Pusteria), thus uniting extensive territories north and south of the Brenner. After Albert's death in 1253 his possessions fell to the Counts of Görz (Gorizia), and between 1258 and 1295 Count Meinhard II of Görz-Tirol enlarged and rounded off his domains until he was the only independent lord in Tirol apart from the bishops. In 1286 he became Duke of Carinthia and a Prince of the Empire.When Count Henry of Görz-Tirol died in 1335 his daughter Margarete Maultasch (1318-69) inherited only the county of Tirol, while Carinthia was granted by the Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian to the Habsburgs. Then in 1363, after the death of her only son, Margarete Maultasch made over the county of Tirol to Duke Rudolf of Habsburg.In 1375 Duke Leopold III acquired the county of Feldkirch, but in 1386 he was killed in a battle at Sempach with the Swiss. From 1404 to 1439 Tirol was ruled by Duke Frederick IV, at first in poverty and misfortune but later in increasing prosperity. In 1420 he moved his seat from Merano to Innsbruck. In 1427 he restricted the power of the nobility and established the freedom of the burghers and peasantry. Oswald von Wolkenstein, the last of the minnesingers and leader of the nobles against Frederick, was forced to swear an oath of allegiance.Under Duke Sigismund (1439-90; from 1453 Archduke) the silver mines of Schwaz prospered, and the silver coins ("Güldengroschen") minted at Hall from 1483 onwards were the forerunners of the more famous thalers (dollars).In 1500 Maximilian I (1490-1519; from 1493 Emperor), the "last of the knights", reunited the Pustertal (Val Pusteria) and Lienz with Tirol; and in 1511 the territories of the bishoprics of Brixen and Trient (Bressanone and Trento, now in Italy) were also incorporated in Tirol, which was granted the title of the "Royal Duchy of Tirol". A decree of 1511 made provision for the defense of the enlarged territories, instituting universal military service and establishing a militia.Ferdinand I (1519-64; from 1556 Emperor) took action against the rising tide of Protestantism. A peasant rising in Salzburg and Tirol (1525) was repressed. In 1552 the Elector Moritz of Saxony invaded Tirol.Archduke Ferdinand (Regent of Tirol 1564-95) carried through the Counter-Reformation; his wife was Philippine Welser, the daughter of an Augsburg patrician. He caused the Brenner Road to be restored in 1582-84. From 1602 to 1618 Archduke Maximilian was Regent of Tirol, from 1618 to 1632 Archduke Leopold V. From 1632 to 1646 Leopold's widow Claudia de' Medici acted as Regent, and her chancellor Wilhelm Biener sought to curb the pretensions of the nobility. Archduke Ferdinand Charles (1646-62) was much under the influence of Italian nobles, and in 1651 Biener was falsely charged and beheaded in Rattenburg. With the death of Archduke Sigmund Francis (1662- 65) the separate Habsburg line in Tirol came to an end, and thereafter the duchy was ruled from Vienna.During the War of Spanish Succession (1701-14) the Elector Max Emmanuel of Bavaria, then in alliance with Louis XIV of France, advanced as far as the Brenner in 1703, but was repulsed by the Tirolese militia under the leadership of Martin Sterzinger and pursued almost all the way back to Munich.Between 1740 and 1780 the Empress Maria Theresa completely reorganized the administration of the province. In 1765 the Emperor Francis I died at Innsbruck. In 1772 the Brenner Road and in 1785 the Arlberg Road were made suitable for vehicles.During the First Napoleonic Wars in 1796-97, French troops under Joubert tried to cross the Brenner from the south but were thrown back by the Tirolese militia in the battle of Spinges.From 1805 to 1813 Tirol was incorporated in Bavaria. In 1809 the Tirolese, led by Andreas Hofer (1767-1810), Joseph Speckbacher and Joachim Haspinger, rose against the French and Bavarians and after a victory at Bergisel liberated Innsbruck and the territory of Tirol. Hofer became head of the military and civil administration until, under the Treaty of Vienna (October 14 1809), the Emperor returned Tirol to Bavaria. Hofer resumed the struggle for freedom but could not match the superior forces of the French viceroy, Eugène de Beauharnais. Betrayed to the French and taken prisoner, he was shot by a firing squad in Mantua, on Napoleon's orders, on February 20 1810.In 1813, under the Treaty of Ried, Bavaria ceded Tirol to Austria and joined the alliance against Napoleon. In 1867 the Brenner railroad was opened, the Arlberg line in 1884 and the Tauern line in 1908.The German and Austrian Alpine Club was founded in 1873, with the aim of conquering the rugged peaks.Under the Treaty of St Germain (1919) Tirolese territory south of the Brenner (South Tirol) was ceded to Italy. North and East Tirol then became the province (Land) of Tirol. The National Socialist regime incorporated East Tirol in Carinthia and Vorarlberg in Tirol. Since the end of the last war Tirol, together with East Tirol, has shared the destinies of the re-established Republic of Austria.ArtTirol has numerous fine buildings and works of art illustrating the development of the arts in this region since the Middle Ages. There are few Romanesque buildings, since almost all of them were altered and rebuilt in later periods, but there are many notable examples of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The province's art treasures are particularly numerous in the Inn valley and in the capital, Innsbruck: outstanding buildings in the immediate vicinity of Innsbruck and in the Inn valley are the monastery of Wilten and the Stams Abbey.Secular art and architecture are more richly represented in Tirol than in other Austrian provinces. Here again the Inn valley features prominently with its many castles and country houses. Schloss Ambras, Burg Tratzberg, the castles around Brixlegg and Rattenberg, Kufstein Castle and many more bear witness to Tirolese building activity, particularly during the Renaissance; and there is a great range of other buildings - houses of burghers, merchants and craftsmen, etc. - to be seen at Innsbruck, Bad Hall, Schwaz, Rattenberg, Brixlegg, Kitzbühel and elsewhere. Religious architecture of the Renaissance period is represented by the Hofkirche in Innsbruck, the interiors of churches at Schwaz and Bad Hall and numbers of funerary monuments and tombstones all over the province.Baroque art and architecture has also left its mark in Tirol. Many sumptuous buildings were erected during this period in token of the victory over Protestantism. Frequently only the interior of a church was altered, magnificent high altars erected and the walls and ceilings decorated with rich and colorful frescos. Numerous noble mansions and burghers' houses in the towns also date from this period. The final phase of Baroque art is represented by Roccoco (church interiors, house fronts).A special position in Tirolese architecture is occupied by the peasant house or farmhouse. Particularly notable is the style found in the Inn valley. The typical farmhouse, standing by itself amid orchards, fields and meadows, has a wide overhanging roof, carved wooden gables, balconies and balustrades. In the interior are paneled rooms, magnificent stoves, large chests and cupboards, tables and well made benches and chairs, all usually decorated with carving and painting. The houses are very different in other parts of Tirol, where masonry of undressed stone based on Romanesque models predominates and ornament is almost completely lacking.The mountains: the destination of climbers and winter sports enthusiastsThe landscape of northern Tirol is predominantly mountainous; and if nature has not been generous to this region in the provision of mineral resources and fertile soil she has more than made up for it by granting it abundant scenic beauties.The visitor entering northern Tirol from Salzburg is greeted first of all by the Kaisergebirge, rearing its crags and pinnacles above St Johann in the valley below to the north, with Kitzbühel a short distance away.To the south of the Kaisergebirge tower the Kitzbühel Alps with their more rounded forms, their forests and their broad Alpine meadows - ideal skiing areas with large winter sports resorts and excellent facilities. North of the Inn lie the Karwendel and the Wettersteingebirge, offering endless scope for rock climbers and mountain walkers with their boldly shaped limestone massifs and rugged crags, the beautiful Achensee and the meadows which alternate with the rock. To the north of the Inn-Arlberg depression the Lechtal Alps, with their gentler forms, end the chain of the Northern Calcareous Alps.Between the upper Inn (Reschen-Scheideck) and the Brenner depression rise the Ötztal and Stubai Alps with their grand mountain scenery and large glaciers. The imposing form of the peaks, their magnificent expanses of permanent snow and their valleys reaching up into the world of the glaciers have made these mountains, like the Zillertal Alps to the east of the Brenner, one of the most visited parts of Tirol.In East Tirol the dominant features are the Venediger group, with its extensive glaciers and outliers, and the Grossglockner group. To the south of the Drau valley tower the Lienz Dolomites, with the jagged forms and beauty of coloring of the Southern Calcareous Alps.A charming contrast to the glaciers and the rugged rock faces of the mountains is provided by the beautiful wooded slopes and Alpine meadows between the rocky peaks and by the pastureland and fields in the valleys, particularly in the fertile Inn valley with its orchards and cornfields. At the foot of the glaciers nestle many lakes, and clear mountain streams surge down the valleys or tumble over waterfalls in the gorges.
The rock and névé, the beauty and the sublime solitude of the Zillertal and Ötztal Alps, the Stubai Alps, the Grossglockner and the Grossvenediger, with peaks rising above 3,000m/10,000ft and some approaching 4,000m/13,000ft, exert a magical attraction for climbing and walking enthusiasts. The wild and bizarrely fashioned rock landscapes of the Kaisergebirge, the Karwendel, the Lienz Dolomites and the Kalkkögel (Stubai Alps) near Innsbruck are a paradise for rock climbers, but hold equal fascination for those who prefer to enjoy their mountain scenery less strenuously from the valley.
Series Massif (Waldrastspitze)
Two hours' drive west from Matrei is the Series Massif (Waldrastspitze, 2,719m/8,921ft) which can be climbed in just over three hours and from which there are extensive views.
Beautiful lakes - deep blue, emerald green or black - mirror in their crystal clear waters the forms of the rocks, the Alpine meadows and the forests of Tirol. The largest and best known are the Achensee, the Alchsee, the Tristacher See, the warm Schwarzsee at Kitzbühel and the Plansee, but these are only a few of the many lakes which offer excellent bathing in summer.
3km/2mi east of Reutte, enclosed by wooded hills, lies the dark green Plansee (976m/3,202ft), the largest lake in Tirol after the Achensee, being 5km/3mi long and 1km/0.75mi wide. It is linked by a short watercourse with the Heiterwanger See (3km/2mi long). From the Plansee there is a 9km/5.5miles long road northeastward to the Ammersattel (1,118m/3,668ft), on the German frontier (open May-Oct. only).
5km/3mi south of Lienz lies the Tristacher See (826m/2,710ft; bathing), a good base for walks and climbs in the Lienz Dolomites. To the south rears the Rauchkofel (1,911m/6,270ft), and further south still the Lienzer-Dolomiten-Hütte (1,620m/5,315ft), reached by a mountain road from Bad Jungbrunn.
2km/1.25mi northwest of Kitzbühel lies the Schwarzsee (779m/2,557ft), a lake very popular with bathers. About 1.5km/1mi further on stands Schloss Münichau (15th C.; hotel).
Ebbs - Autumn Folklore Events
This annual month-long festival runs from mid-September to mid-October.