Castle Tyrol: Dungeons and Dragons in Merano, Alto Adige

After hiking for a couple of hours, I popped out out of the woods above the tree line to find Schloss Tirol or Castle Tyrol. It seemed all the more magical and impressive because I had had no idea that it was there. My surprise discovery turned out to be the most important landmark of the area, the castle for which all of the area of Tyrol was originally named.

My hike began in Merano without a map and not sure exactly what the signs said (since most of Alto Adige communicates in German–see post).
Near town, the trail was wide and flat.
I passed outdoor cafes..
2014-10-18 12.15.30
And vineyards.
Then, I began climbing in earnest through the woods.

Walking through the castle gate, into the courtyard, toward the keep was a journey back in time. I wished I were galloping in on horseback with trumpets blaring and flags waving.
I caught this view of the valley from one of the windows with vineyards tucked neatly into the curve of the hills.
It turns out that the Castle has some of the best preserved medieval carvings in all of Europe. Fantasmagoric creatures, particularly dragons, popped out in every room.
…along with the Biblical.
After touring the Knights’ Hall, the Chapel, the Keep and the Dungeon, I went for lunch on the terrace of the Castle’s cafe. The Europeans never leave you stranded in tourist or hiking destinations without a place to eat and drink in the sunshine.
I stopped at this apple stand.
Then, warm and full, I walked back down to Merano, enjoying the views as I went.

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