Castel Firmiano is THE castle of South Tyrol: this is also where the first pass towards an autonomous province have been made.
Everyone is familiar with Castel Firmiano. The large castle complex is located on a hill between Bolzano and Appiano and hosts the main museum of the „Messner Mountain Museums“ (MMM), founded by the alpinist Reinhold Messner.
In 1957 the castle was venue for a range of protest rallies guided by Silvius Magnago, revolting against the Paris Agreement and supporting the home rule of South Tyrol. The statement „away from Rome“ went down in history and is still topical theme in local politics.
Already in 945, under the rule of Konrad II, the castle has been mentioned and referred to as “Formicaria”. In 1027 it was in possession of the Bishop of Trento and in the 12th century the castle was handed over to the administrative aristocracy, also called ministerialis, who used to call the castle “Firmian”.
In the 15th century duke Sigmund der Münzreiche, at that time governour of Tyrol, acquired the castle and transformed it into a stable fortress. From this point of time the castle was referred to as “Castel Firmiano”. Unfortunately the archduke has financial difficulties and had to put the fortress in pledge. At the end of the 18th century, the Earls of Wolkenstein were the masters of the castle, whereas in the 19th century it was in possession of the Counts of Val Sarentino. Until 1994 it was in possession of the Earls of Toggenburg who rent the castel. In 1976 the facility was restaured and reopened as a restaurant. In 1996 the Province of South Tyrol purchased the castle.
In 1996 Reinhold Messner was given permission to integrate his mountain museum into Castel Firmiano, which was inaugurated in 2006.
The construction works brought to light a neolithic grave, in which an about 6,000 to 7,000 year old female skeleton was found.
Method of construction:
Castel Firmiano is one of the oldes castle complexes of South Tyrol.
The castle has mainly been constructed in High Middle Age style, while the castle tower belongs to reconstructions in late Gothic style. A residential tower with arched window and door dates back to the 13th century. The circular wall is up to 5 m wide and is characterised by two integrated turrets.
Moreover there is a residential and farm building in the yard, in which today there is a restaurant.
Rocks separate the lower and upper castle. However, it was of utmost importance to archduke Sigmund to make his castle one of the most beautiful throughout the area. Some elements do not correspond to the relevant time, e.g. the crenels of various sizes.
A visit to the museum is recommendable and can perfectly be combined with a hike, as there are a range of hiking paths passing by.