The St. Peter’s Basilica in the Castelvecchio Forest near Caldaro is presumably the oldest church in South Tyrol
Image gallery: St. Peter’s Basilica in Castelvecchio
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Video : Castelvecchio at Caldaro as seen from above
video : Hiking tip: Rastenbach Gorge in Caldaro
On the St. Peter Hill high above Lake Caldaro, close to the Rastenbach Gorge and visible from the "Klotzbank" viewpoint in the Castelvecchio Forest, there is the ruin of St. Peter. In its walls, remnants of an original three-aisled basilica of the period of Christianisation can be localised. The origins of the St. Peter's Basilica - "St. Peter Basilika" in German, "Basilica di San Pietro" in Italian - date back to the period of the time between the 4th and the 6th century AD, making it presumably the oldest church in South Tyrol and one of the most ancient sacred buildings throughout Tyrol. The St. Peter's Basilica was first mentioned in 1191 in the so-called St. Vigilius Letter.
The 17.24 m x 13.4 m large basilica is reminiscent of church buildings in Aquileia and Milan. Until the second half of the 18th century, the way of the cross (Via Crucis) led from the district of San Antonio up to the church. The St. Peter's Basilica was closed due to the secularisation under Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1782 and fell into decay. The parts which have been preserved to the present day are the outer walls, the remains of a vaulted apse and a stone column. 10 bowl-shaped depressions in the porphyry rock probably served as a grain mill or for illumination with oil. Outside the church walls, however, there's a depression in the rock, its origin has not yet been clarified. The possible explanations range from a burial ground and the "sleeping place of St. Vigilius" to an early Christian baptismal site or a prehistoric sacrificial site.
Remains of frescoes, depicting the 12 Apostles as well as the Last Judgment, are still recognisable in the lower part of the apse. The latter was realised by master Thomas Egnolt of San Paolo in the 15th century. And how to reach the St. Peter's Basilica? It is accessible only by foot along the Peace Trail through the Rastenbach Gorge, more precisely it represents its 7th station. Slightly above the ruin there is the medieval St. Vigilius Church in Castelvecchio (Altenburg).
- Castelvecchio Forest - 39052 - Caldaro / Kaltern
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