The ruin of Rafenstein Castle, an important fortress to control the trade routes, rises at the entrance of the Val Sarentino valley
High above the Talvera Gorge in the northwest of Bolzano there are the remains of a once important fortress. "Rausenstone" was its name in 1217 when it used to control the road between San Genesio and Bolzano. The great hall and the curtain wall date back to the 13th century and the Lords of Rafenstein with Adalpret von Rafenstein, the prince-bishop of Trento. But soon after, when Meinhard II of Tyrol and the bishops of Trento fought against each other, Rafenstein Castle - or Sarentino Castle (Schloss Rafenstein, in German) - was besieged and destroyed. Its reconstruction in 1358 included the expansion by a gate tower, an outer ward and a southern wing.
Until the beginning of modern times, the castle was of utmost importance for the control of the trade relations between the North and the South and for the sovereignty of Bolzano. Some centuries ago, the Lords of Wolkenstein abandoned the castle and it fell into decay. In 2009, the remains were completely consolidated so that they are accessible again: A steep and narrow road leads to the castle - by foot it can be reached along a path which starts at the San Genesio road. Below it there is the eponymous restaurant which offers South Tyrolean cuisine.