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Myths & legends from South Tyrol

Come with us on a fantastic journey through the world of legends in South Tyrol, get to know the mysterious corners of the country and make the acquaintance of dwarfs, fairies and other fabulous characters.

There is a story or two about almost every place in South Tyrol, passed down from generation to generation, about the origins of the mountains, lakes and alpine pastures, about magical happenings or legendary figures.

King Laurin’s rose garden

Rosengarten
Rosengarten

at dusk

© Tourismusverein Welschnofen

According to the legend from Eggental, the dwarf king Laurin had a hard-working people, mountains full of precious ore and a beautiful rose garden of which he was very proud. He lacked only one thing: a wife. When the king on the Etsch was looking for a groom for his daughter Similde, Laurin wanted to take part in the knight tournament organised in her honour. However, all noblemen of the environs were invited, excepting King Laurin. Enraged, he went anyway – but by means of a magic hat as an invisible guest.

As the dwarf king saw Similde, he immediately fell in love with her. Without further ado, he abducted her. Together with some knights, Prince Dietrich of Bern set out to save the princess. With a magic belt that made him as strong as twelve men, King Laurin awaited them in his rose garden. But his was still not strong enough to beat Dietrich of Bern, and so he once again used the magic hat. However, the knights saw where Laurin was jumping around by the movements of the roses. So, they finally succeeded in capturing the dwarf king.

Laurin felt betrayed by his rose garden, and so he cursed it: No one should ever see it again – neither by day nor by night. But he had forgotten about twilight in his curse. This is why King Laurin’s rose garden can always blossom anew at sunrise and sunset – in the form of the alpenglow, which is also called "Enrosadira" in this country.

The Schlern witches

Legendary Mt. Schlern
Legendary Mt. Schlern

There are numerous myths surrounding Mt. Schlern, in which the Schlern witches play a particularly important role.

© IDM Südtirol/Harald Wisthaler

The extraordinary mountain massif of the Schlern is said to be populated by witches, ghosts, dwarfs and other legendary figures. Among the best-known and at the same time most feared inhabitants of the region are undoubtedly the Schlern witches. They regularly gather on the impressive mountain, conjure up terrible storms and cause other magical mischief.

In this context, the story of Hansel is heard again and again. He was a small farmer living in a hut at the foot of the mountain. During a thunderstorm he once encountered a witch. He courageously grabbed his rifle, sprinkled the bullets with holy water and shot the sinister figure. The horrific sight of the dead witch must have been such a shock for Hansel that he never recovered from it for the rest of his life.

The story of the witch Martha shows a completely different side. As a good witch Martha loved nature and children above all else. She lived in the forest and could transform herself into a squirrel. Even though she looked a bit scary – like all witches – there was no need to be afraid of her.

The pale mountains

Three PEaks
Three PEaks

The impressive mountains are located in the Sexten Dolomites and are a very famous photo spot.

© Internet Consulting - Stefan Tolpeit

Once there was a king’s son who had everything you can imagine. Nevertheless, he had one cherished wish: He wanted to travel to the moon. One night, when he was lost in the forest, he came across two little old men in a shimmering metal box. They were from the moon, they said. So, the prince begged them to take him to the moon too, and after a while they agreed and fulfilled his dream.

The prince was overjoyed and immediately fell in love with the daughter of the Moon King. The bright red alpine roses he gave her delighted the Moon Princess so much that she fell in love too. On the moon, all flowers were white – just like everything else. However, the king’s son began to go blind from all the white. He could no longer stay on the moon, and so he took the princess with him to earth. She brought some white flowers with her. Enchanted by their bright colour, people later called them "Edelweiss".

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the Moon Princess fell ill on earth. She feared that the huge black mountains around her would come closer and closer and crush her. So, she returned to the moon. The prince was devastated and turned away from everything – until he met a dwarf. The latter promised to help the king’s son if he would grant him and his dwarf people a land to live on.

And this is how it happened: At night, the dwarfs began to spin the moon. They plucked luminous threads from the moon and wrapped the entire mountain range in them – until it glowed white. So, the Moon Princess could return, and they lived happily ever after. The Dolomites, the "pale mountains", have kept heir bright colour until today.

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