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The upper Vinschgau

The upper Vinschgau

location South Tyrol , Italy
Waters Etsch
Geographical location 46 ° 37 '13 "  N , 10 ° 47' 26"  E Coordinates: 46 ° 37 '13 "  N , 10 ° 47' 26"  E
Vinschgau (South Tyrol)
height 520 to  1504  m slm
Template: Infobox Glacier / Maintenance / Image description missing

The Vinschgau [ 'fɪnʃɡau̯ ] (also Vintschgau , Italian Val Venosta , Vallader Vnuost ? / I ) is the uppermost part of the Adige Valley in South Tyrol ( Italy ). Geographically, its borders are estimated at the Reschenpass and the Töll . The Vinschgau is mostly divided into Upper Vinschgau and Lower Vinschgau . The largest village and thus the capital of the Vinschgau is Schlanders . The only municipality, however, is Glurns . Audio file / audio sample


The German name Vinschgau (old spelling Vintschgau ) and its Italian equivalent Val Venosta originally come from the Venostes tribe , who are listed on the Tropaeum Alpium alongside many other defeated Alpine peoples. In the Franconian Empire (772 AD), the Vinschgau formed an administrative unit, from which the suffix " Gau " is derived. The first medieval mention occurs in too Nuremberg issued deed of 13 June 1077, with the King Henry IV. The bishop Altwin of Brixen goods in Schlanders in pago Finsgowe in pago Gerungi - so "Venosta in the county of Gerung" - issues . Vinsgowe , Uenusta Uallis , Venusta Vallis are further historical variants of the name that appear in later documents.



Upper Vinschgau with a view towards Lake Reschen

The Vinschgau is the uppermost section of the Adige Valley . It starts at the Reschenpass ( 1507  m ), where the Etsch rises, and initially runs southwards. At Prad , the valley makes a bend and from now on strikes most of its length eastwards towards Merano . The steep step of the Töll (approx. 500  m ) just west of the Merano valley basin is traditionally the end point of the Vinschgau and the border to the Burggrafenamt . It is 71.4 kilometers by road from the state border on the Reschen Pass to Töll.

Above all, historically, the high valley of Nauders, drained from the Stillebach to the Inn ( on the other side of the Italian-Austrian border since the Treaty of Saint-Germain came into force in 1920 ), has been counted as part of the Vinschgau. Although this is just north of the Reschenpass, it is more clearly separated from the Oberinntal than from the Etschtal by the deeply cut Finstermünzpass .

The Vinschgau is divided into either two or three sections, depending on the author. The border between the Lower Venosta and Upper Venosta is divided into two at the Gadria alluvial cone between Schlanders and Laas . A tripartite division leaves the lower Vinschgau the same, but distinguishes in the higher valley section between the middle and upper Vinschgau: The beginning of the Malser Haide between Glurns and Mals is understood as the border between the Mittelvinschgau and the actual Vinschger Oberland . As a historical landscape name, there is also the designation Untercalven ( i.e. for the area below the Calven , the valley narrow at the exit of the Münstertal ), which was used for the Churian possessions in the Vinschgau down to Goldrain .

The mountains surrounding the Vinschgau belong to several mountain groups. On the north side are the mighty foothills of the Ötztal Alps , which are divided into Planeiler Mountains , Saldurkamm and Texel Group . In the west, the Upper Venosta Valley is dominated by the Sesvenna group . South-lying Ortler Alps with Laas mountains between Sulden- and Val Martello and the Zufrittkamm between Martelltal and Merano.

The south-facing slopes on the north side of the Vinschger valley floor bear the name Sonnenberg throughout from Mals to Töll . The south-facing, north-facing slopes from Prad to Töll are collectively referred to as Nördersberg .

Administratively, the majority of the valley belongs to the Vinschgau district community with the main town of Silandro . Only the three Untervinschg communities Naturns , Partschins and Plaus are affiliated to the district community Burggrafenamt due to their proximity to Merano .


If you look at the surrounding mountain ranges from the bottom of the Vinschgau valley, they give a fairly uniform picture. Only in a few places can you see steep, towering rock complexes. Flattened, partly rounded crest reliefs predominate, which can be traced back to the old crystalline ceiling type. The ceilings are geologically the large complex of Austroalpine of crystallin, of which there are several sub-groups, the lithological and the metamorphosis history are distinguishable seen her. Falling in from the north, the Ötztal Kristallin was once pushed onto the Scarl-Campo Kristallin. The border is the Schliniglinie, which is a real fault line to the west of Schluderns , to the east of which it runs through the Sonnenberg as a fault or shear zone that is up to two kilometers wide and is therefore also known as the "Vinschgau shear zone". In this disruptive layer, also known as the “Vinschgau Slate Zone”, the components of both ceiling systems, tectonically strongly deformed paragneiss , mica slate and phyllite , have been rubbed and welded together.

End head from the south

The campo-crystalline of the southern slopes of the Vinschgau consists of biotite-bearing paragneiss and mylonitic mica schists , which can contain garnet and staurolite inclusions . Almost pure white marbles ( Lasa marble ), biotite-bearing pegmatite gneisses and amphibolites are often embedded here . This series of rocks is also called the Laas unit and is very similar to the marble interspersed Schneeberger Zug, which north of the Texel complex describes a wide arc towards Sterzing . In the Martell valley, granite deposits from the Permian era are exposed on both sides of the valley behind the district of Gand up to the reservoir . In the Ortler region, campo-crystalline consists of mica schists with amphibolite inclusions, orthogneiss (angelus) and, more rarely, of yellowish or gray marbles. The Ortler massif , consisting of metamorphic overprinted limestone sediments from the Upper Triassic, is superimposed on the quartz phyllite underlay of the zebru scale zone, which extends into the rear Martell valley. A striking Different type of geological floe in the middle of Ötztal crystalline, the formed of Triassic carbonate sediments end head east is the Reschensee.


The side slopes of the Vinschgau are mostly very steep and also have the highest relief energies in the Alps: the height differences measured per unit area reach up to 2,500 m on a 5 km horizontal distance in the area of ​​the Tschenglser Hochwand, in Naturns 2700  m slm to the Texel group . In some places the slopes merge at a height of about 1000 to 1200 m into flatter hillside terraces, where individual farms have settled or where scattered settlements have emerged. On the slopes of the Sonnenberg these sloping terraces show the course of the sinuous line.

The valley floor, which is covered by Quaternary debris, covers an area of ​​122 km². There are only two hill-like elevations that have withstood the force of the glaciers and now rise from the valley floor. Because of this fact, both of them were assigned a special aura in earlier times. Because very old Romanesque churches have been preserved on both of them: on the one hand, there is the small hill next to the village of Laas , on which the Sisiniuskirche stands, and on the other hand, in the upper Vinschgau, the Tartscher Bichl near the village of Tartsch .

The mighty alluvial cones (also known as mud cones), which make up about 70% of the valley floor and in some cases were the cause of the formation of valley steps, are a very striking feature of the landscape . The 13.25 km² Malser Haide is the largest mud flats and, so to speak, forms the cladding of the highest valley level of the Vinschgau valley between the 1450 m high pass and the fanning out into the valley at Glurns (900 m). The gigantic Gadriamure between Lasa and Schlanders is the ideal of a murk cone. With 10.68 km² it takes second place in terms of area. It has pushed the Adige to the right slope of the valley and dammed it again and again, so that an embankment plain could form up the valley, while a valley step about 200 m high formed down the valley, which also has climatic effects. The third largest mud cone is that of Tarsch-Latsch with 9 km², which was also the cause of the formation of the valley. Other murk cones of smaller size are those of Tabland and Partschins. It is also noticeable that these large mud cones have usually formed at the mouth of very small and steep side valleys, while the streams of larger side valleys have hardly any alluvial fans at their mouth into the main valley. These mud cones were created in the post-ice age, in which there were also periods with much stronger rainfall ( Altatlantic ).

Side valleys

The Etsch is fed by numerous streams. These come from valleys that have dug themselves deep into the surrounding mountain ranges and penetrate into the glacier regions of the main ridges. The majority of these side valleys have very narrow, occasionally even ravine-like mouth openings. Only further inside the valley does the valley floor become wider and offer space for modest settlement areas.

Starting from the Reschenpass , on the orographically right side of the valley of the Vinschgau, one encounters seven larger side valleys, five of which are settled all year round:

  • At the village of Reschen , the Rojental branches off , which is drained by the Pitzbach and whose main town Rojen can be reached by a well-developed mountain road.
  • On Haidersee the uninhabited begins Zerzer valley , which is only used pasture farming of people.
  • At Schleis , the Metzbach flows from the Schlinigtal into the Etsch. The main town of the valley, Schlinig , can be reached by traffic via Burgeis via a well-developed mountain road.
  • The Rambach comes from the Münstertal that follows . It is the only one of these valleys that opens with a wide valley mouth. Only a relatively small part of the valley with the municipality of Taufers lies in South Tyrol. Starting from Glurns , the Swiss border can be reached after around nine kilometers.
  • In Prad has Suldenbach from the Suldental a wide, flat alluvial plain that Pradersand created. A mountain road designed as a military road leads through the Suldental and the Trafoital that branches off from it to the Stilfser Joch and Lombardy .
  • A little-known side valley is the Laas valley , which branches off near the village of Laas. It is uninhabited, but gained importance because of the mining of Lasa marble .
  • The elongated Martell valley flows into the Vinschgau near Morter . It is drained by a body of water of the female sex, the plima .

On the orographically left side of the valley there are also seven more significant valleys, five of which are inhabited all year round:


The Vinschgau lies at a very central point in the Alps . Here they reach the greatest width (250 km) and take the valley exactly in their middle. In addition, the Vinschgau is surrounded by very high mountain ridges that consistently exceed 3000 m. This results in a decidedly island location, so that climatically the valley can be considered one of the most closed landscapes in the Eastern Alps . Both the influences coming from the north or the Atlantic and the weather phenomena sloshing up from the south are mitigated equally. One of the most unfavorable effects for agriculture is the lack of precipitation, which, coupled with the long hours of sunshine, makes the Vinschgau one of the driest valleys in the Alps. In some respects an independent climate type has developed: low cloudiness , low humidity , long periods of sunshine (with 71% Kortsch surpasses places like Meran , Arco or Riva by far), high mean annual temperatures, in Silandro 9.6 °, high evaporation , high Temperature fluctuations in the course of the day and year, strong downward winds ( Vinschger wind ), milder cold peaks in winter.

Temperature mean January July year
Schlanders (706 m) −0.9 19.2 9.6
Resia (1,494 m) −6.2 14.0 4.5

The annual average of precipitation in Silandro is only 481 mm (measurement period 1921-2000), not more than the amount of precipitation in parts of Sicily . In Reschen it is 663 mm.

The west-east orientation of the valley means that there is a stark difference between the south-facing slopes of the Sonnenberg and the more shady slopes of the Nördersberg. The Sonnenberg is dry and has a high level of solar radiation as well as flat and dry soils. Since it used to be exposed to erosion from extreme grazing bites, it is furrowed by ditches and channels; extensive artificial reforestation has been carried out for decades. The slopes of the Nördersberg are more shady and have the usual alpine vegetation.

The lack of precipitation makes artificial irrigation of meadows and fields an agricultural necessity. In the past, some very long artificial water channels, so-called waals , were created by the village communities , in which the water was directed from the mostly water-rich side valleys into the hillside meadows of the main valley. An approx. 600 km long main waterway network once crossed the Vinschgau, which supplied the meadows and fields almost everywhere. Today - in the age of the much more practical iron and plastic pipes - the whales have largely lost their importance. Many of these channels have now expired and are no longer used. Some, however, are lovingly maintained and serve as a tourist infrastructure because of the Waalweg paths that accompany them.


From a biological point of view, the Vinschger Sonnenberg has produced a unique vegetation due to these special climatic conditions , which is not found in comparable alpine transverse valleys further south. This surprisingly species-rich flora can be observed on the bare, gray slope areas, the Leiten. These places were left out of the afforestation that took many years. The largest part of the former steppe belt of the Vinschger Sonnenberg is now covered by black pine stocks.

Wine is grown at the foot of the Sonnenberg as far as the Silandro region , and the sweet chestnut also thrives there . The valley floor, which used to be used mainly for grain cultivation (the Vinschgau was the granary of Tyrol), has also gradually been occupied by fruit growing ( apples ) since the First World War up to the Silandro area . Since the nineties of the last century, noticeable climate change has made it possible for apple cultures to advance further west into the area around Mals .

The shady slopes of the Nördersberg are partly overgrown with mixed forest in the lowest strip . In the higher elevations that follow, the spruce trees predominate , mixing with the stone pines at the tree line .

Land use

In the Vinschgau district community, around 35,000 people live in the 1,441 km² catchment area, who share a 134.9 km² permanent settlement area.

  • The built-up areas make up 0.6% of the territory, the arable land 0.5%.
  • Permanent crops, i.e. areas that are planted with fruit trees and vines, make up 2.2% of the area.
  • Meadows and pastures in lower and middle locations, where intensive grassland management is practiced, are the most important usable area with 8.3%.
  • Forest consists of 33.0% of the area and 16.8% is natural grassland.
  • With 32.1%, wasteland and rocks take up a relatively large area.
  • 5.9% are covered by glaciers and bodies of water take up 0.6% of the area.

Agricultural use (agricultural census 2000):

Culture type in hectares in percent
Wine 35 0.1
fruit 3,677 7.0
Field 599 1.1
grasslands 14,012 26.8
Pastures 33,985 65.0
Others 1 0.0

The Stilfserjoch National Park and the Texel Group Nature Park are important nature reserves in the Vinschgau Valley . The National Park encompasses large parts of the Ortler Alps and in the area between Glurns and Latsch slopes down to the Vinschger valley floor. The nature park, on the other hand, extends into the Ötztal Alps and touches the Vinschgau on the southern slopes of the Texel group between Naturns and Partschins.


Bunker in Vinschgau built by the Italians after the First World War to protect the northern border .

The Italian term Venosta and the German name Vinschgau (formerly Venostengau ) go back to the Rhaetian people of the Venostes , who were Romanized during the course of Roman rule . A Rhaeto-Romanic language emerged from Vulgar Latin . Until the early Middle Ages, the Vinschgau was only sparsely populated and mostly covered with forest, although in Roman times the Via Claudia to the Reschenpass ran through the valley. From the 10th century onwards, settlements and agricultural areas were developed primarily by Romanesque farmers. Since the 12th century, the Marienberg monastery promoted the development of the country by German-speaking settlers. In the early Middle Ages, the Vinschgau belonged to Churrätien and formed a county with the Lower Engadine. In terms of church law, the Vinschgau is therefore part of the diocese of Chur .

In 1027, Emperor Konrad II granted the county of Vinschgau-Lower Engadin to the Bishop of Trento , but the area remained with Chur under canon law. The bishops of Chur continued to dispose of their rights, property and serfs in the area, which was mainly concentrated in the upper Vinschgau. The center of the administration of the Chur possessions was the episcopal court in Mals and first the Churburg , then the Fürstenburg , where an episcopal captain resided. The bailiwick of the Vinschgau was held by the Lords of Matsch in the High Middle Ages.

The conflicts between the overlapping rulership rights of the Bishop of Chur and the count's rights in the Vinschgau and Lower Engadine persisted even after these areas were transferred to the County of Tyrol . Like the other episcopal courts, the civil courts Unter- and Obercalven joined the Church of God within the three leagues . However, the Archdukes of Austria were finally able to assert their sovereignty against the Bishop of Chur in Untercalven in 1499. In 1618 the court in Untercalven in Mals was finally received, whereby the last Graubünden or episcopal influence disappeared. The court Obercalven and the Münstertal remained in the church association. Various attempts by the Habsburgs to acquire this too failed. As part of a lengthy legal dispute over the Münstertal between 1734 and 1762, the entire village of Taufers came to Austria.

Up until the 17th century, Romansh was spoken almost exclusively in large parts of the Vinschgau, as in Nauders . In the 14th and 15th centuries in Glurns it was the only language used in court. It was also used in the course of the Reformation , which only lasted briefly in the upper Vinschgau. An evangelical reformed pastor worked for a time in Burgeis . Since the Counter-Reformation, Romansh has been increasingly outlawed as the language of the Reformed. The Marienberg Monastery fought against the use of Romansh, which also made relations with the Romansh-speaking and Reformed Engadin more difficult. Rhaeto-Romanic lasted the longest in the Upper Vinschgau, and Taufers in the Münstertal did not become German until the beginning of the 19th century. In Müstair (Münster) on the Swiss side it is the predominant language to this day (see also Lower Engadin language ).

In the years from 1808 to 1816 the diocese of Chur lost the Vinschgau to the diocese of Brixen . In 1818, however, the lower part of the Vinschgau as far as Prad was added to the diocese of Trento.

Until the end of the First World War, the entire Vinschgau belonged to the County of Tyrol and thus to Austria-Hungary . With the Treaty of Saint-Germain in 1920, the area came to Italy together with most of Tyrol south of the main Alpine ridge . The new border between Italy and Austria was drawn on the Reschen. In 1964 the Vinschgau was ecclesiastically united in the diocese of Bozen-Brixen .


Motorcar of the Vinschgau Railway

The Vinschgau is opened up for motor traffic by the SS 38 ( Vinschger Staatsstraße ) and the SS 40 that connects to it from Spondinig .

Rail traffic in the valley is handled by the Vinschgau Railway . A Swiss postal bus -line (Mals- Zernez ) connects the terminus at Mals station with the Engadin and thus closes the Vinschgau train to the network of the Rhaetian Railway to. More than 100 years ago, ideas for linking these railways existed with the Ofenbergbahn project . Due to the success of the Vinschgau Railway, a new version of this project was also discussed.

There is the Etsch cycle path for cyclists .


  • Rainer Loose (Hrsg.): The Vinschgau and its neighboring rooms: Lectures of the regional studies symposium organized by the South Tyrolean cultural institute in connection with the Bildungshaus Schloss Goldrain . Athesia, Bozen 1993, ISBN 88-7014-710-X .
  • Josef Rampold : Vinschgau: Landscape, past and present on the upper reaches of the Etsch (= South Tyrolean regional studies . Volume 1). 7th edition. Athesia, Bozen 1997, ISBN 88-7014-165-9 .
  • Josef Tarneller : Vinsgowe: a study on the spelling of this old name (online) .
  • Oswald Trapp : Tiroler Burgenbuch. Volume I: Vinschgau . Athesia Publishing House, Bolzano 1972.

Web links

Commons : Vinschgau  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Vinschgau  - travel guide

Individual evidence

  1. Monumenta Boica, Collectio Nova, Volume 29, P. 199, No. 424. - Martin Bitschnau , Hannes Obermair : Tiroler Urkundenbuch, II. Department: The documents on the history of the Inn, Eisack and Pustertal valleys. Vol. 1: Up to the year 1140 . Universitätsverlag Wagner, Innsbruck 2009, ISBN 978-3-7030-0469-8 , p. 224–225 No. 254 (with explanations) .
  2. ^ Historia Welforum. Chapter 7.
  3. Bernd Lammerer: Paths through millions of years, geological hikes between Brenner and Lake Garda. Tappeiner Verlag, Bozen 1990.
  4. A draft that is also suitable for popular geological level (PDF; 3.8 MB)
  5. Climate data. Archived from the original on May 7, 2009 ; accessed on March 8, 2018 .
  6. ^ Gianni Bodini: Paths by the water. Tappeiner Verlag, 1993.
  7. Tirolatlas 1  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  8. Tyrol Atlas 2
  9. The settlement history of Tyrol. Archived from the original on May 5, 2009 ; accessed on March 8, 2018 .
  10. ^ Martin Bundi: Vinschgau. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  11. ^ Heinrich Kofler: History of the dean's office in Schlanders from its establishment in 1811 to the voluntary resignation of dean Josef Schönauer in 1989. In: Marktgemeinde Schlanders (ed.): Schlanders and his history. Volume 2: From 1815 to the present . Tappeiner, Lana 2010, ISBN 978-88-7073-531-4 , pp. 11-186, in particular pp. 11-15.