Enthroned on a hill in Wipptal, there is Reifenstein Castle – ranking among the best-preserved castles in South Tyrol. Today, visitors can access the castle during guided tours.
Reifenstein Castle is situated in the hamlet Elzenbaum taking part of the municipality of Freienfeld, in the southwest of Sterzing. The castle is positioned on a rocky hill and directly at the cycle path connecting Brenner and the city of Bozen. Reifenstein Castle was mentioned in documents in 1100. Until the 13th century, it was the residence of the ministerials of Brixen, until the castle was passed to Count Albert of Tyrol.
In 1470, the fief was sold to the Teutonic Order which owned the castle until the order was dissolved in 1809 by Napoleon. During the centuries, the castle was being expanded and fortified. Afterwards, the princes of Thurn and Taxis had received Reifenstein Castle by the Bavarian government as a compensation for the reliable postal service in several parts of the country. Still today, it is privately owned by the Thurn and Taxis family.
Worth-seeing castle in Wipptal
In the south, the well-preserved castle is bordered by a circular wall; in the north, however, by a fortified pre-castle with an ogival gate, portcullis and walks along the battlements, guarding the access to the main courtyard with the impressive square tower. With the expansion in the 16th century, a great hall was built including sleeping places, baths, the castle kitchen, a wood-panelled dining room as well as the worth-seeing green hall with precious frescoes. Next to it, there is the small St. Zeno chapel. In 1996, Bajuwaric tree-coffins, dating back to the time between the 4th and 8th century, were found right there.
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