Runkelstein castle impresses with its unique mural paintings, the greatest cycle of medieval frescoes with secular themes, well conserved.
The romanesque castle was erected by the brothers Friedrich and Beral of Wangen, Lords, in 1237. From this really favourable strategic positionn it was possible to contol the trade route to or from the North.
In 1385 Franz and Niklaus Vintler, two descendants of an old and wealthy merchant family of Bolzano, bought Castle Runkelstein. They were responsible for some restoration works in gothic style giving a more representative touch to the castle without loosing the defensive character.
The brothers built the socalled summer house located in the northern part of the castle. The family Vintler, especially Niklaus, had a good relationship to the sovereign of Tyrol and held some important functions and positions. They wheren't noble, but with the possession of such a castle with splendid design and furnishing they could express their richness. They commissioned to decorate the western palace and the summer house with the frescoes.
In five rooms of the western palace you can see scenes of the daily of some nobles, for example a ball-game, a dance, a joust and hunting scenes. Especially the frescoes with the themes of a joust are fascinating: the knights in armour on horses with their heraldic signs.
In the summer house are represented famous literary themes of the medieval time: the tragic love-story about Tristan and Isolde and the story about a young knight named Garel of the Blooming Valley who lived at the court of King Arthur and his adventures.
At the outer wall of the summer house you can see the so called "Triaden", scenes with the heroes of the antiquity, the Old Testament and the Christianity but also famous knights, some giants and gnomes.
In summary it may be said that the frescoes are a testimony of the daily life of the nobles, the fashion of this time the joust and the ideas ot the end of the 14th century and an art-historical, invaluable jewel of the medieval time.
In the second part of the 15th century the family Vintler lost the castle.
Emperor Maximilian I revived the splendid times for a short time and commissioned an Austrian artist to restore the frescoes of the summer house. After his death some guardians took care of the castle, but more after a fashion.
In 1881 the castle was bought by Arc Duke Johann Salvator of Austria and given as a gift to the Emperor Franz Joseph in 1882. Emperor Franz Joseph commissioned the best architect of Vienna, Friedrich von Schmidt, to restore the castle. The restorationn works started in 1884 until 1888. In 1893 Emperor Franz Joseph gave the castle as a gift to the inhabitants of Bolzano.
After expensive and detailed restoration works during the 90ies of the last century, the castle was reopened in April 2000 and today it is one of the most frequented castles in South Tyrol.
Today during the summer months are arranged some concerts or performances.
The tavern offers typical regional food, sometimes a year you also have the possibility to taste medieval dishes and recipes.
Below the castle you find a free parking place for cars and busses. From the parking place you can go up to the castle in 8 minutes on the "Kaiser- Franz- Josef-Weg"-path. It's also possible to reach the castle by bus from town.