With the recently completed renovation of the path through the hitherto little-known Mötz gorge, the ancient connection between Mötz and Obsteig has become a new regional attraction. However, crossing the wildly romantic gorge with its eponymous castle perched on a rocky outcrop is only the first part of a circular hike that offers several fascinating variants - all of them wonderful combinations of history, culture and nature.
Where on earth is Mötz?
Mötz, located in the central Upper Inn Valley at the foot of the towering limestone cliffs of the Mieminger Range, is usually 'left to the left'. And this, although the place was once strategically important. I would like to present here a less relaxed mountain walk, which starts in Mötz and leads through the central Tyrolean history back to the origins of our country.
To get to Mötz, neither navi nor map is necessary. Because smart hikers use public transportation to get to the starting point in Mötz. Why by bus? Quite simply, those who arrive by public transport do not necessarily have to return to the starting point of the hike just because the car is parked there. So in the case of this hike, I would highly recommend the use of public transport.
Culture hiking, expression of an attitude towards life
For me, cultural hiking in Tyrol is an expression of an unmistakable attitude to life. Why, my clever readers will ask themselves. Because in hardly any other country nature, history and culture have entered into such a close, almost extraordinary connection. Therefore, I would like to present a cultural-historical exploration that focuses on a small Tyrolean community.
The first destination: Klamm Castle
First of all, the journey. If you arrive with the VVT bus, you will leave it just at the stop 'Mötz-Kirche', where the journey through Tyrol's cultural history begins. No searching for a parking space, no parking fee.
From the stop, you enter the starting point of the cultural walk, Königsgasse, a few meters away, and you're in the right place, so to speak. Anyone who thinks that the name Königsgasse is too highfalutin for a 'mini village' with 1,350 inhabitants is very much mistaken. Kings, even emperors, actually passed through here in the Middle Ages. This Mötz alley leads straight to the castle where the crowned heads once stayed. A castle that was once of great strategic importance.
Along the stream we head in the direction of the gorge. In front of the brisk hikers, the limestone cliffs of the Mieminger chain tower up in the distance. After the last houses, the path divides: On the right, over a small wooden bridge, the wildly romantic, perfectly restored Klammsteig leads to a rushing waterfall, above which Burg Klamm rises imperiously. On the left, the path leads over the old path connection to the same destination: to Klamm Castle. It is located in the municipal area of Obsteig. However, the village itself cannot be seen directly from the castle.
When I completed the Klamm trail a few years ago, it sometimes took a bit of courage and a lot of surefootedness to get anywhere. No comparison to today: the Klammsteig is in excellent condition after a profound, highly successful renovation by Innsbruck Tourism. What has remained the same: surefootedness is still an advantage.
The first highlight of the trail is the waterfall of the Klammbach stream, which has literally carved itself into the limestone rocks over the centuries or millennia. Here it is recommended to take a deep breath. The fine water droplets floating through the air, also called aerosols, are a balm for the hikers' lungs, which are wide open after the hike. After a few more switchbacks, you reach the privately owned Klamm Castle with its enormous tower, the completely intact palace and a bridge over the former moat.
A castle in a supposed no man's land
Those who reach Klamm Castle search in vain for clues as to why such a massive castle, built as early as the 12th century, stands here of all places on a rocky spur. Sure, the view of the surrounding region was fantastic. And yet, the dimensions were enormous for the early 13th century. The tower is 25 meters high, its foundation walls are a massive two meters wide! Hikers with a keen sense of architectural beauty will also notice the tower's accurate stone layering. German precision work, so to speak. Probably the Staufer Emperor Frederick II. (yes, the one with the weakness for falconry) himself motivated a master builder to take over the construction supervision in Mötz. This would be proof of the importance of this fortress, since the area around Mötz belonged to the empire of the Staufers when construction of the castle began.
Why did emperors and kings pass through Mötz?
This is exactly the question that geographically knowledgeable readers will ask themselves. In the Middle Ages, this was more or less logical, if you know that even then, one of the rare bridges over the Inn River stood in Mötz. A last clue to this existed until the construction of the highway: the inn ‚Zum römisch-deutschen Kaiser‘ on the south bank of the Inn was a reminder 50 years ago that emperors had probably also been active here.
In addition, the tragic story of an emperor is on record and vouched for: The German Emperor Lothar III. the German emperor Lothar III. passed through Mötz in 1137, only to die a short time later in a poor hut in Breitenwang near Reutte.
The location of the castle was of enormous strategic importance for the time. When German kings or emperors had to rush to Rome to be crowned by the pope, there was not much choice of safe castles between the Außerfern and the Brenner at that time. Among them was Klamm Castle. Here the crowned heads together with their entourage (sometimes hundreds of knights) were safe, could rest and then continue their journey towards Brenner via today's Mötz. So one of the most important traffic routes of the 13th century must have led past Klamm Castle.
Meinhard II created the Tyrol of today
The fact that the castle finally came into the possession of the Tyrolean sovereigns is the work of Meinhard II. The then count of Tyrol Castle near Merano wanted to aim higher and unceremoniously stole villages, castles and lands from the bishops of Trent and Brixen. It is clear that he was therefore banned by the Pope: robbery of the Church had to be punished.
in 1280 Meinhard II. therefore persuaded the Augsburg bishop Hartman to give him the bishop's property in the Tyrolean Oberland. As a result, Klamm Castle also came into Meinhard's possession. In 1295, the 'Land im Gebirge' was then largely in the possession of the Count of Tyrol, whereupon it was called Tyrol for the sake of simplicity.
Quite in the 'fashion' of his time, Meinhard II still lacked a 'house monastery'. Presumably he feared for his salvation because of his sometimes brutal politics. So in 1273 he had a monastery built in Stams, where prayers were said for him and masses could be said in his favor. He also designated the new monastery church as the hereditary burial place of all Tyrolean sovereigns and their families.
Little by little, the monastery became more or less a cemetery for the Tyrolean nobility. The latter also had to hope to win paradise with the help of the monks' prayers. The lifestyle of this sometimes brutal but always work-shy elite was not conducive to leading quasi-automatically to heaven after death.
From the castle Klamm via Untermieming to Stams
That's why it's logical to choose Stams as the destination of this cultural and nature hike, since the history of Mötz, Klamm Castle, Untermieming and Stams is closely connected. The continuing path from Klamm Castle leads to the outskirts of Fronhausen. The route to Untermieming runs in front of the brilliant panorama of the Mieminger mountain range. My tip: Before continuing your hike, pay a visit to the beautiful Gothic church in Untermieming. After all, it was once the central church of the so-called Mieminger Plateau and was probably located on the old Roman Via Decia, the road that connected the Via Claudia Augusta in Zirl with the one in Nassereith via the Mieminger Plateau.
If you continue hiking, you will pass the lake - today a fantastic swimming lake. In the summer there is a café here, which also serves food.
Shortly after the bathing lake, hikers again have the choice: either descend directly to Stams or walk along the path of reflection to Maria Locherboden. This pilgrimage church is one of the truly 'holy places' of the country. My blogger colleague Danijel Jovanovic has dedicated a blog post with spectacular photos to it.
Those who want to descend directly to Stams will eventually reach the steeply sloping edge of the mountain range between Mötz and Telfs. From a small chapel, you can admire the rift valley of the Inn in Cinemascope from a bird's eye view.
The descent through the 'wall' above the Inn leads to a suspension bridge that was built in the 1930s as part of a job creation program. Why a bridge here of all places? Because the Cistercian monks of Stams Abbey had to look after the parishes on the Mieminger Plateau. The path through the wall is the absolute shortest connection from the Inn Valley to the Mieminger Plateau.
- Travel by public transportation. You can find information about bus connections here: https://smartride.vvt.at/
- Use good shoes for the hike.
- For 'bathing rats' it's recommended to bring swimwear if the weather is nice. Because the bathing lake in Untermieming is beautiful.
- Take the opportunity to visit the monastery of Stams.
- Right next to the monastery is the stop for the VVT bus.
Images unless otherwise indicated: © W. Kräutler
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A volunteer at the "Schule der Alm" alpine farming school, cultural pilgrim, Tyrol aficionado and Innsbruck fan.