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Castelfeder: a Greek island in South Tyrol
Castelfeder: a Greek island in South Tyrol

Day trip destination


Castelfeder: a Greek island in South Tyrol

It's not just the landscape that is reminiscent of Greece at Castelfeder biotope in the South Tyrol Unterland district. The Greeks once held sway here, too.

When Greek painters travelled northwards through Italy during the Romantic period, they also came through South Tyrol. When they saw Castelfeder hilltop situated between Neumarkt, Auer and Montan, it reminded them so much of their homeland that they called it the 'Arcadia of Tyrol'. In fact, the porphyry knolls smoothed by glaciers and steppe-like plant life of the biotope with their arid shrubs and bushes are like the landscape of Greece. The ruins set at the highest point of Castelfeder, which can look back on a long history, add to this impression.

A rock weathering the storm of history

The first traces of settlement at Castelfeder date back to the second century BC. Urn graves with burial gifts from this time point to an early settlement. Around 2,500 years later, after the downfall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, this area was part of the Byzantine Empire, which was influenced by the Greeks. In order to stop the advance of Germanic tribes, the Byzantines built a fortress on Castelfeder, but abandoned it in the 7th century after two fires. It wasn't until the Early Middle Ages that the fortress was renewed and extended and the hilltop used as a defence facility again. A variety of ruins bear witness to the eventful history of Castelfeder.

A day amidst the rubble

Two stony constructions at the top of the hill catch the eye. On the eastern side stand the remains of St. Barbara's Chapel, which was probably built in the 6th century and fell into disuse after 1750 and was left to decay.
On the other hand, the western side is adorned with so-called 'Kuchelen', or rounded arches that were left over from the 500-metre-long Byzantine curtain wall. Slightly further down the hill, there are more sections of the curtain wall, which are reminiscent of the fortress walls of Constantinople - a clear sign that the Greeks were at work here. Later construction activity, on the other hand, is indicated by the ruins of the so-called Lombard Tower, whose foundation walls still create a well-fortified impression today.
The 'Fertility Slide' near the 'Kuchelen' was created more by the power of the glaciers than by human hand. It is said that this smooth stone ramp has a 'fecund' effect. So, if you are not thinking of having children, then you should resist the temptation to go down the slide.

Castelfeder: a Greek island in South Tyrol


Yet, going up to Castelfeder hilltop is not just a worthwhile trip for history buffs. The Byzantines knew only too well why they had a fortress built here. From the highest point of Castelfeder there are unencumbered views of the whole of the south of South Tyrol and you have the impression of being the guardian of Etschtal river valley. Near the path up to the hilltop, other paths criss-cross Castelfeder. For example, Castelfeder 'Naturerlebnisweg', or biotope nature trail, begins on the road between Auer and Montan, which explains the flora and fauna of the biotope on information boards along the way. Those who have not learned to read yet will also appreciate it here. The fields of Castelfeder make the ideal playground for children. In addition, people are not the only inhabitants of the hilltop. There are goats and donkeys roaming over Castelfeder, which make for a bit of variety. Last but not least, the hilltop makes the ideal spot for a picnic in the shade of the old trees.

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Farms near Castelfeder
53 farm found farms found
Schießstandhof flower flower
Fam. Terleth  | Montan  (Bolzano and environs)
Fruit growing, Wine growing
Product corner: eggs, fruit jams, cordial ...
Farm offers: Herb tours
Distance 0,7 km
Position on Map
"Very good"
(9 Review)
bookable online
Room from 96€ a night
Furgglhof flower flower
Fam. Graiff  | Auer  (Bolzano and environs)
Fruit growing
Farm's own products: fruit juice
Distance 1,0 km
Position on Map
Holiday flat from 65€ a night
Perwanger-Hof flower flower flower
Fam. Perwanger Wiedenmann  | Auer  (Bolzano and environs)
Fruit growing
Farm's own products: fruit juice, fresh fruit in season
Farm offers: Farm tour, Farm tour and produce tasting
Distance 1,4 km
Position on Map
"Very good"
(19 Review)
bookable online
Holiday flat from 110€ a night
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Further information

Hill Castelfeder
Via Val di Fiemme
39040 Ora/Auer
Operation Schedules
General description

The fertile terrace between Auer/Ora, Neumarkt/Egna, and Montan/Montagna is an ancient cultural landscape. Castelfeder was the center of human existence in the south of South Tyrol for thousands of years. There are traces of settlements from the Stone and Bronze Ages. The remains of a castle complex, the legendary fertility chute and the walls of the Barbara Chapel bear witness to a mystical past. Also, Raetians, Romans, and other tribes who settled in the area around the hill retreated to the 400-meter-high hill in troubled times and left their traces.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire had Castelfeder refortified as a bastion against the Germanic tribes shortly after the year 500. On this "acropolis," hundreds of people could find refuge together with their cattle and supplies. The last remains of the 500-meter-long ring wall of this largest fortress of the Adige Valley are the "Kuchelen," whose construction resembles the city wall of Constantinople.

Because of the Mediterranean vegetation, the area was called the "Arcadia of Tyrol" by romantic poets. The Castelfeder hill is important not only from an archaeological and historical point of view, but also from an ecological one. Thus, a zone with an area of about one hundred hectares was placed under landscape protection as a biotope years ago. Due to the Mediterranean climate, it is particularly mild on the hill as early as March. Today, Castelfeder is home to some animals that have become rare in Europe. The biotope's flora and fauna can be explored on the nature discovery trail.
description to arrive at destination

Freeway A22, exit Ora/Egna, direction Ora, Via Val di Fiemme