Living the medieval experience, Tirol style

A fascinating journey 700 years back in time awaits visitors at the Ehrenberg world of fortresses. This magical experience has been made possible after years of restoration work, beginning back in 1997.

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Visitors enjoying magical Klause by night. Copyright: Burgenwelt Ehrenberg Visitors enjoying magical Klause by night. Copyright: Burgenwelt Ehrenberg

“This project has helped dramatically boost visitor numbers to our world of fortresses – up from about 5 000 in the past to some 140 000/year at present.”
Armin Walch, Architect and Project Supervisor, Burgenwelt Ehrenberg

Artists, businesses and local authorities are among the many who have committed time, money and passion to transform these ruins into a leading attraction offering a medieval theme museum, visitor experience, seminar rooms and spaces for special events.

Diversity of architecture spanning centuries

The dramatic location includes Ehrenberg Castle (1293), the Klause (1480), Fort Claudia (1645) and Schlosskopf Fortress (1741). Prior to 1997, this site was a popular hiking destination given its spectacular views over Reutte valley, however restoration was not a priority due to a lack of finances and interest on the part of the owners.

Enter the Reutte commune, which took up the challenge, purchased the buildings, and handled initial funding.  In 2001, an association was set up to tap into greater funding opportunities, with architect Armin Walch at the helm.  The success speaks for itself, with increased visitor numbers bringing economic benefits for local businesses, including hotels, where figures show overnight stays steadily rising. Six full-time and four part-time staff, as well as some 20 trained tour guides, are among the many locals earning a living from this project and sharing their enthusiasm for what it offers.

Children thrown into medieval world

Visitors to the museum can experience the Middle Ages, literally firsthand, as the replicas on site can be touched and tried out – a big attraction for children, the main target audience. A separate children’s level includes the mascot ‘Knight Rüdiger’ who leads the children on their journey. The location also houses an events arena, which has seen the musical hit Knight Rüdiger performed there several years running. Regular festivals with participants dressed up in medieval costumes bring much delight to the young.

Rising from the undergrowth

Schlosskopf Fortress has been literally unearthed and now offers a Baroque construction site, functioning treadwheel crane and observation platform. Scavenger hunts are organised for children who look for answers along the hiking trail. Elsewhere, the former barracks at the Klause are now home to seminar rooms and guest apartments, while a restored 17th century salt barn provides demonstrations of regional traditional handicrafts and trade and can be rented for events.

This project is a prime example of how innovation, regional governance and cross-sector cooperation among actors can work. Such projects rely on intermediate organisations or partners (network management) to oversee the process.

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