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Village Portrait Silbertal

by Alexander Sohm last modified 2007-01-08 10:50

Nestled in the Verwall group, the main town in the Montafon stretches out to the east from Schruns in the 22 km long Silbertal or Silver Valley where the resort village with the same name is situated.  The river Litz which springs from unspoiled nature, runs through the valley on the border to the Tyrol  - the European divide.  The village, with a population of 900 and about 900 guest beds has 3 settlement areas.  INNERTAL or Inner Valley where the centre is 889 metres above sea level, AUSSERTAL or Outer Valley which lies on the entrance to the valley and the settled area of KRISTBERG in the sunny hillside which is 1,450 metres above sea level and is inhabited all year round.

Many of the meadows in the Silbertal have Romanian names which date back to the early Romanian settlers that came here by way of Switzerland.  Around the year 800 AD, iron ore was already being mined in the Silbertal.  In the13th century, immigration to Vorarlberg by the Walsers from the Canton of Wallis began. The Walsers mostly settled in the higher and more remote regions in the mountain valleys, the Silbertal being one of those areas.  The Walsers made their new home by clearing large areas.  The main reason that settlers were attracted to the area was probably the abundance of silver that could be found here.  The first time the mountain „Muntafune“– today the Kristberg – was mentioned in an official document was in 1319.  Silver and iron ore were mined, melted down in the Silbertal and then taken over the Kristberg to Hall in Tyrol where the silver was processed.  During the 30 year war, silver mining came to a complete standstill.  The silver mines were no longer profitable.  The name of the valley comes from this period of time.

The oldest church in the Montafon is St. Agatha’s – the miners’ chapel.  It was built 600 years ago.  Legend has it that the miners built the chapel in appreciation of a number of miners being rescued from a mining tunnel that had caved in.  

Research projects over the last few years have shown that copper was probably mined here as early as 2000 BC – in the early Bronze Age. 

Close to the guest house, Fellimaennle, in the direction of the back of the Silbertal, there is a 35 meter long shaft that is going to be made accessible. 

In December, 1996 the first mining museum was opened in the community of Silbertal.  With this, an entire miner’s path beginning at St. Agatha’s Chapel and ending in the middle of Silbertal was made available.  Don’t leave out a tour of St. Agatha’s chapel with Adolf Zudrell.  He tells a lot of stories about the miner’s lives, sings old miner’s songs and plays the flute.  A once in a life time experience for young and old.

The Sonnenkopf tour which opened in 1995, shows the path of the ore from Kristberg to Sattel and over the Muttjoechle (2,094 meters high), to the Sonnenkopf restaurant.  Today, of course, it’s much easier since instead of ore, we usually only carry a snack with us.

Today, Silbertal has about 900 beds available for guests.  About 300 of these are divided into two 4 star hotels and two 3 star hotels, with the other 2/3 being holiday apartments and May field huts.  About 1/8 are private rooms.  Altogether, there are about 85,000 overnight stays every year.

Hiking Trails

There are around 100 hiking trails on well marked and sign posted hiking paths that can be started from the village.

A beautiful view of Mounts Raetikon and Verwall can be seen from the summit station of the Kristberg mountain railway.  The mountain railway is open from the middle of May to the end of October, which is ideal for hikers.  From here you can explore the peak of the Lobspitze or the Fellimaennle, enjoy the view from the panoramic pathway, get close to the Alpine flora or just wander from pasture to pasture.  It is also an ideal starting point for mountain bikers.  There are signposted trails with points of interest and unforgettable panorama views.

The hiking trail into the back of the Silbertal is also unique.  It is a Natura 2000 area and the trail leads past meadows full of flowers in bloom, raging waterfalls, romantic mountain huts, quiet mountain lakes, cool forests and sunny pastures.  For those that want to take it easy, there is the Wander bus that will take you into the back of the Silbertal from the end of June to the end of September every Wednesday and Thursday.

Some of the scenes from the movie “Schlafes Bruder” were shot in the Silbertal in the summer of 1994.  The back of the Silbertal, in the area of the Schwarzsee (Black Lake) offered ideal scenery for the movie.

The offers are enhanced in the summer as well as the winter by the Silbertal Waldschule or Forest School.  The motto of the Forest School is to walk through the mountain forest using all of your senses.  You should smell, taste, feel and experience the forest.  In the Forest School everyone can get to know the forest from a different side.  Have you ever looked at a forest closely?  Do you know why the forest is so important to the people of the Montafon?  Have you ever asked yourself what kind of animals live in our forests?  The Silbertal Forest School is snuggled into a wonderful natural and cultural landscape on the Silbertal Kristberg (Christ Mountain).  It is run by the Forest Management – Stand Montafon and offers a wide pallet of guided tours.  The tour guides are trained nature and forest educators.

Winter sport:

In the past, there were a lot more overnight stays in the summer than the winter, but with the construction of the Kapell-Railway as a means of transportation to the Hochjoch-Zamang ski region, the number of overnight stays has evened out.  A new feature, since the winter of 2005/2006 is the run from the Hochjoch into the Silbertal and to the Kapell Railway.  What other village can boast two ski regions?  There is also a ski bus that commutes between the town centre and the ski region free of charge.

The ski region Hochjoch-Zamang offers over 40 km of prepared ski runs (including 20 km of snowed pistes).  Twelve ski lifts offer a comfortable ride up to 2,400 meters above sea level.  The Kapell Railway takes you to this magnificent ski area within minutes.  The top ski run in the Montafon is the “Totally Hochjoch” which is 11 km long and has an elevation difference of 1,700 meters.  Not to be forgotten are Europe’s longest ski tunnel as well as the snow cannon equipment that has been running since the winter of 96/97.  There are also lots of things to do for children, like the five flying carpets (conveyor belt) and the winter fairy-tale land. 

A romantic, 11 km long panorama cross country ski trail on the Kristberg starts directly at the mountain station of the Kristberg railway at 1,442 meters above sea level.  Over the whole trail there is an elevation difference of 100 meters to be conquered.  In the “Wild Ried” or “Game Moors”, the is an additional 2 km long trail to be experienced.  From the beginning of the winter right up to the end, this cross country ski course is a favourite of young and old, beginners and experienced skiers.  In the village itself, there is a 5 km long cross country ski trail that runs along the river Litz.  It is ideal for people who want to learn this sport.

In the winter, 30 km of cleared winter hiking trails guarantee many different routes that lead through various winter landscapes.  From these trails you can see unforgettable views of the sparkling mountaintops and the peaks of the Raetikon Mountains. Over 60 km of signposted snow shoe routes on the Kristberg and the Bartholomäberg or  Mount Bartholomew provide winter fun for young and old.  A great winter experience for everyone.  If you can walk, you can snow shoe!


P01-2 village portrait silbertal.mp3

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