As I ponder the sites that I saw in Alpine Europe this spring, my mind recalls the moments when we toured the Reifenstein Castle, which is found about one hour south of Innsbrook. In the words of Rick Steves, “Reifenstein offers castle connoisseurs the best-preserved original medieval castle interior I’ve ever seen.”
As I was preparing for my trip this phrase intrigued me. If you don’t know who Rick Steves is, then it’s time to head to your local library to check out some of his books. You can also turn your channel to PBS and see some of his shows there. This guy has toured thousands of castles all across Europe, so I knew that his quote had to be accurate.
My first feeling about this place helped me to realize why people “looked up” to their leaders. This castle was built on a small hill right inside the valley. Supposedly the peasants worked for their Lord, who in return offered them protection from any outsiders and food for their families.
The tours are only offered three times per day, and for some crazy reason I didn’t keep track of when the tours began. I couldn’t ever find a website about this place, and pictures are not found anywhere because they don’t allow you to take pictures once you get inside of the castle walls. So it is somewhere that you’ve got to visit in person. The GPS coordinates are 46° 52′ 41″ N, 11° 26′ 40,5″ O
Also understand that this castle was constructed over the last 2000 years. The tallest tower was built first, and offers THICK walls at the base, and a dungeon down below. As the valley became more prosperous they added more rooms and features. The tour is given in English, Italian, or German so don’t worry about language barriers.
Why you need to visit this castle:
Just as Rick Steves mentioned above, this castle offers the closest thing that can be found when looking into the past. From the front door, to the last minute of the tour you’ll be amazed at how well preserved this castle really is.
The guide will take you to the kitchen where the meals were prepared. Upon entering you’ll already know that it is the kitchen because you’ll notice the smell of soot on the walls. When you look around the room you’ll notice that black soot from the fire has covered the walls of the kitchen. Both the smell and the pots and pans used can help your imagination to run wild of what this place must have been like during the Medieval Ages.
The dungeon gives you a real sense of what it would be like to live your last days trapped in that small room. They drop a light down into the dungeon so you can see how large the room was. Many of the prisoners probably were thrown into the dungeon, and broke bones on the way down to the 15 or 20 feet drop. They also take you to the room where the criminals would have been tried for their crimes. The post upon which they were whipped and beaten before being tossed into the dungeon still shows the indentations of the feet of those being whipped.
Sitting at the top floor of the castle boasts a breathtaking view of the valley just before the Brenner Pass. It gives you the chills to think that this valley has been commonly used as the passage between Germany and Italy for thousands of years. Popes, knights, robbers, and missionaries have crossed the valley floor in their journeys to faraway lands.
This moment at the top floor of the castle sparked a moment of contemplation of my life, and how wonderful things are for me. I feel so fortunate to live in a wonderful country where I am entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I also enjoy a warm home in the frigidness of the Idaho winters. A hospital that is close provides a level of comfort where I know that highly skilled doctors can save lives. Even something as simple as life insurance, that ensures that my family will be fine financially even if something were to happen to me.
We enjoy a lot of things in this life, and it’s not until we get out of our box to see other places that we can really recognize these blessings. This is one of the reasons that I love to travel. It gives me a greater appreciation for the time in which I live, and for the blessings which I enjoy. Come along and Worldwanderlust with us so you can have life changing experiences like this. Make sure you like us on Facebook and subscribe to our blog by putting in your email address in the right hand corner of the blog so you never miss another post!
I recommend you stay at the Four Points by Sheraton in Bolzano when touring the Reifenstein Castle. The hotel is within walking distance of a grocery store, and within an hour of the castle. When you get the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express you will have enough points to cover up to 7 FREE nights at this and other hotels in the area.
Make sure you allot enough time to enjoy the swimming pool on the top floor, and their steam rooms and saunas. This is a great way to relax after a long day on the go. The beds are comfortable, and you’ll sleep well in this hotel.