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Saturday, July 26, 2014

The history of Rattenberg

Rattenberg Innenstadt

Rattenberg Inntor | Malerwinkel

Nagelschmiedhäuser

Augustinermuseum

Bienerstrasse

Rattenberg was originally mentioned in documents in 1254. However, the settlement must be substantially older than this as the place-name derives from the Bavarian forename “Ratolt” or “Ratabo” going back to the 10th century (“Rattenberg = Ratholt’s mountain). At that time, the area was ruled by the Bavarian family of Rapotonen. The fortress above the town was probably built to protect the frontiers of the lands belonging at the time to the prince bishops of Brixen, as this frontier was only a few kilometres away.

The economic and political significance that Rattenberg had already acquired by the Middle Ages was derived mainly from its proximity to the frontier and from the fact that the highway from Bavaria met the route to Wörgl and Salzburg at this point. Thus Rattenberg acquired the role of being a substantial regional communications centre. In addition to road traffic, river craft plied the Inn, and the town had its own jetty. A toll was raised on both road and river traffic.

The consequence of Rattenberg’s position as a frontier town was that it frequently changed hands. In 1292, Duke Ludwig of Bavaria pledged Rattenberg to Duke Albrecht of Austria, who in turn passed on this pledge to Duke Meinhard of Carinthia-Tyrol in 1293 or 1294. This pledge was handed down via sons and heirs through his granddaughter Margarethe Maultasch to her husband Johann Heinrich of Bohemia of the House of Luxembourg, who had the walls built around the town.

Through Margarethe’s second marriage to the Margrave Ludwig the Brandburger, Rattenberg came de facto under the rule of Bavaria. Here the town remained until 1504 when, through Emperor Maximilian I it came permanently under the Tyrol, in other words Austria, in the wake of the War of Bavarian Succession.

Rattenberg was officially elevated to the status of town during this last phase of Bavarian rule. Duke Stefan III endowed Rattenberg with its town charter on 7 January 1393, which brought with it a host of economic and political privileges.

Rattenberg was substantially remodelled in 1415/16, when a new coach road was constructed westwards from the town square past the nailmakers’ houses to the old highway, which still at that time ran over the Castle Hill (Schlossberg). This construction work gave the town its characteristic appearance which it retained into the 19th century. During the course of the 19th century the various town gates were removed because by now they had become too cumbersome, and the flow of the Inn was regulated by an artificial weir at the western end of the town.

As in other small Tyrolean towns, copper and silver mining in the region during the 15th century brought a significant rise in economic fortune. Evidence of this new-found prosperity can be seen in the Parish Church of St. Virgil, and in the various chapels and other rebuilding work in the Augustinian monastery that had already been built by the end of the 14th century.

With the end of mining in the second half of the 16th century, Rattenberg began a period of economic decline which was to accelerate during the coming centuries. In 1766, the customs house was abandoned. The scourges of war in 1809 and the building of the railway in 1856/58 caused a severe reduction in the road, wagon and coach traffic that had been previously so important for Rattenberg. It was not until 1889 that Rattenberg acquired its own railway station.

The 20th century has brought a new rise in economic fortunes with the development of tourism and the emergence of the glass industry.

Autor: Dr. Hermann Drexel