Myth of mountain: permanent exhibition

The religious dimension of the mountains

The museum in Juval Castle in Vinschgau is dedicated to the Magic of the Mountain and houses several fine art collections: a Tibetica collection, a gallery of paintings of the world’s holy mountains, a collection of masks from five continents, a unique Gesar of Ling exhibition, a Tantra Room and the Expedition Cellar. Trained guides are available to explain all the exhibits. There is also a small mountain zoo, home-grown produce at the Schlosswirt tavern, excellent wines in Unterortl and, at the foot of the hill, a farmhouse shop. Juval Castle always makes a big impression in so many ways.

Modern mountaineering is 250 years old. What came before that has not been recorded. But the mountains are millions of years old. They are an aid to orientation for mankind and always have been. They are an expression of everything that lies beyond and requires no justification. For me, the holy mountains came last. The Dolomites, West Alps, Andes and Himalayas are stations along the path of understanding – and the realization that beyond all sheer faces and other challenges there is a dimension that defies quantification! Today the holy mountains are of special interest to me as a researcher and alpinist. I have a particular focus on Milarepa, to whom a separate room is devoted. Having spent almost four decades as a pioneer in rock climbing and high-altitude mountaineering, I am fascinated by those peaks that have special meaning for the local inhabitants, like Mount Kailash in Tibet, Fujiyama in Japan and Uluru or Ayers Rock in Australia. I have chosen Juval Museum to house the Myth of the Mountain. The castle, perched like an eyrie on a rocky promontory and decorated with frescoes by B. Till Riemenschneider, is well worth a visit itself, and the courtyards and a dozen rooms are open to the public.Reinhold Messner

Juval Castle: history & restoration

Castro Juval

Although the location has had a power of attraction since time immemorial, as shown by prehistorical finds, the castle can only be traced back in historical records as far as 1278, when Hugo von Montalban was lord of the castle. In 1368 the border fortress passed into the possession of the lords of Starkenberg, and in 1540 – after several changes of ownership – it was acquired by the Sinkmoser family. That was the heyday of Juval Castle: Hans von Sinkmoser gave it its present character by converting the fort into a grand Renaissance manor house. But the next generation was unable to maintain the castle, and title to the property was transferred to the Hendl family, who held it for the next two hundred years. A farmer by the name of Josef Blaas bought the ruin in 1813 and lived in it until part of the main building collapsed. Finally, in 1913 it was purchased by a Dutch colonialist called William Rowland, who saved the castle from complete decay. He restored the building with great care, but with the outbreak of the Second World War the castle was again abandoned.

From castle and residence to museum

In 1983 Reinhold Messner discovered the castle. In the following years he not only restored the structures with great sensitivity and with respect for the earlier phases of construction but also filled them with new life: Medieval walls were combined with modern architecture and foreign elements, and collections were integrated and presented. Today the castle is both home and museum. The mid 1990s saw the last phase of reconstruction: In order to prevent the further decay of the desolate north wing, it was covered with a glass roof designed by the German architect Robert Danz. The roof provides protection for the old walls while the historical phases of construction are still visible to visitors thanks to the transparent glass and steel design of the roof.