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The Name Silbertal

by Alexander Sohm last modified 2007-01-08 10:57

The Romanian names of the meadows in the Silbertal point to early settlement by the Rheatian-Romanians.  Iron ore was already being prospected for in the Silbertal around the year 800.  The “Walsers” from the Canton of Wallis in Switzerland started to emigrate to Vorarlberg in the 13th century.  The Walsers settled mostly in the high, remote valleys including the Silbertal where they made a new home for themselves by clearing large areas of land.  The thing that attracted them to the Silbertal the most was probably the abundance of silver in the area.  Mount “Muntafune” – known today as the Kristberg, is mentioned in documents dating back to the year 1319.  Silver and iron ore were mined; taken to the Silbertal to be melted down and then transported over the Kristberg and the Arlberg to Hall in Tyrol where the silver was processed. 

The name of the valley originated around the time of the 30 year war.  It was during the war that silver mining came to a complete standstill because it was no longer profitable. 

The miner’s chapel, St. Agatha’s on the Kristberg is the oldest church in the Montafon.  Legend has it that it was built about 600 years ago by the miners in appreciation of their rescue from a caved in tunnel.

Research activities during the past few years have shown that copper was probably mined here as early as 2000 BC, the early Bronze Age.

Near the Fellimaennle Restaurant, in the direction of the back of the Silbertal, there is a 35 meter long tunnel that will be made accessible to the public.

The first mining museum was opened in the community of Silbertal in December 1996.  A miner’s path was also opened with the starting point at the miner’s Chapel, St. Agatha and ending in the centre of Silbertal.  Don’t forget to take a tour of the chapel with Adolf Zudrell.  He tells a lot of stories about the miners, sings old miner’s songs and plays the flute as well.  This is a one time experience for young and old!

The Sonnenkopf tour, that was opened in 1995, shows the path of the ore from the Kristberg to Sattel and over the Muttjoechle, which has an altitude of 2,094 meters, and on to the Sonnenkopf restaurant.  Today, of course, it’s quite a bit easier since instead of carrying  ore, the hiker is usually only carrying a snack.


P01-3 name silberthal.mp3

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