Day trip destination
Castle Tyrol: old walls with history
Castle Tyrol perches on a hill in Dorf Tirol above Meran. Here, you can find history made tangible and a birds of prey show.
If you follow the Schlossweg path in Dorf Tirol coming from the parish church, another view across the vineyards and into the Etsch river valley and Vinschgau opens up after a few steps. Castle Tyrol forms part of this picture, too, rising up majestically atop a moraine hill. It may be reached in around 20 minutes on the well-trod, sunny path to the castle, which also leads through an 83-metre-long tunnel – called 'Knappenloch'.
The cradle of Tyrol
The hill that Castle Tyrol stands on today was settled back in the early Middle Ages. Archaeologists found an early Christian church and graves indicating an early settlement there. Castle Tyrol was built in three stages, starting in 1100. The curtain wall surrounding the castle has remained intact until today and is considered to be one of the oldest castle walls ever. Castle Tyrol was the ancestral seat of the Counts of Tyrol and lent the county of Tyrol its name. The castle had its heyday under Margarete Maultasch, who successfully defended it against Karl von Luxembourg in 1347 before passing it on to her closest relative, Rudolf der Stifter, or Rudolf the Founder, from the House of Habsburg.
Traces of history
Castle Tyrol has housed the South Tyrolean Museum of Culture and Provincial History since 2003. The history of South Tyrol leading into the 20th century is on display in the castle keep. One area of the museum is dedicated to archaeological finds from prehistoric times. The early Gothic frescoes inside the chapel and their Romanesque porches adorned with mythical creatures out of marble are a highlight of Castle Tyrol. The Tyrolean eagle at the entrance to the chapel is worth a look: it is the oldest preserved depiction of this heraldic animal of Tyrol from the 13th century.
Raptors and owls close up
The rescue centre for wild birds at Castle Tyrol lies right next to the castle, on a sunny hill with all-round views. There are flight demonstrations every day involving raptors and owls – it's not just the children that will gawp at the eagles spreading their powerful wings and gliding over the heads of visitors. Hardly any other place offers the chance to observe birds of prey from such close proximity. Visitors do not just find out lots about the lives of animals in the bird rescue centre at Castle Tyrol, but also about the dangers that they are exposed to because of humans. These birds can injure themselves on high voltage power lines – animals found injured are taken in and nursed back to health. Afterwards, they are released back into the wild again.