RS altenburg kirche kaltern
RS altenburg kirche kaltern

St. Vigilius Church in Castelvecchio

Slightly above the ruin of the well-known St. Peter Basilica in the Castelvecchio Forest there is the medieval St. Vigilius Church.

Not only the presumably oldest church of South Tyrol rises in Castelvecchio (Altenburg), but also another sacred building which was built about a millennium later. It is the small St. Vigilius church, dedicated to St. Vigilius of Trent, Bishop of Trento. Nowadays, this saint is above all venerated in South Tyrol and the Trentino. A church, however, was already mentioned in this place in the Vigilius Letter in the 9th century, and afterwards in the years 1288, 1326 and 1390. Also a fortress was enthroned on this porphyry rock formation in ancient times.

The current church was erected in 1491 in late Gothic style and vaulted in 1497. The steeple dates back to the 14th century and shows on its northern wall a St. Christophorus fresco, which was realised in the period of time between 1360 and 1380. On its west façade there’s a depiction of Wilgefortis, an imaginary female saint with an own legend. This wall painting was done in 1420. A medallion frieze of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, on the other hand, has faded completely.

Inside, the St. Vigilius Church - “Kirche St. Vigil” in German, “Chiesa di San Vigilio” in Italian - captivates with the stunning winged altar, a coloured and gilded monument designed by Stanis Gruber from Appiano and realised by the wood carver Jakob Mussner from the Val Gardena valley in 1912. The glass paintings dating back to the 19th century show the brothers of St. Vigilius, Claudian and Magorian, as well as the Apostles Peter and Paul. And how to reach the church? It can be found in Castelvecchio and offers a parking place. Also the path to the “Klotzbank” viewpoint leads past the church, which represents a popular setting for weddings.

Opening hours: all year round
during the Holy Mass (on Sundays and feast days at 9.30 am)

Entrance fee:
freely accessible

Further information:
phone: +39 0471 963134 (Parish of Caldaro)

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