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Of Column-Eating Demons and Mermaids
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Of Column-Eating Demons and Mermaids

What do mythological figures and mythical creatures have to do with the Romanesque period? Follow in the footsteps of the "Alpine Road of Romanesque Art" and find out!

Behold, a throne was set in heaven,
[…] and there was a rainbow round about the throne
[…] and in the midst of the throne,
were four beasts […] And the
four beasts had each of them six wings about him;
and they were full of eyes within:
and they rest not day and night, saying,
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty,
which was, and is,
and is to come. (Revelation 4:1-8)


What may sound like the script of a new Hollywood blockbuster by Steven Spielberg is in fact an excerpt from the New Testament describing the Romanesque era. This epoch, which took place around the year 1000 AD throughout Europe, is probably the most spooky of all art epochs. In the churches you find all kinds of mythical creatures like mermaids, centaurs (half horse and half human) and frightening column-eating demons that will make you shiver. According to the world view of the time, these dreadful creatures populated the peripheral zones of the flat-disk Earth. They illustrate the contrast between divine order and chaos. During this time period, the painters of such scenes were not perceived to be artists. They were instead unknown craftsman in the service of a higher purpose, who created and illustrated the theological cosmos for their audience.
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Even if you are less religiously inclined, you should consider visiting a Romanesque church for the extraordinary frescoes alone. The project "Alpine Road of Romanesque Art - Stairway to Heaven" is a list of 25 Romanesque cultural sites located between South Tyrol and the Canton of Grisons (CH). Large and well-known monasteries and churches such as Marienberg monastery, Schloss Tirol castle and the Convent of St. John in Müstair are just as interesting as small churches such as St. Proculus, St. Kathrein or St. Jakob. All cultural sites are scenically situated in the landscape. They offer views over valleys and mountains or lie hidden in the deep forest.

A journey in the footsteps of the Romanesque inevitably leads its visitors to unknown and hidden corners of South Tyrol. If you are interested in visiting places that have not yet been explored on TripAdvisor, a tour of discovery to South Tyrol’s Romanesque cultural sites is highly recommended.

Who knows what other fabulous creatures you'll encounter...?
Five Romanesque cultural sites around Merano/Meran
Mythical creatures close at hand:
Tyrol Castle
Tyrol Castle
Tyrol Castle is the most historically significant castle in South Tyrol. Its origins stretch back into the late 11th century. Since 2003 Tyrol Castle has ...
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Church of San Procolo/St. Prokulus in Naturno/Naturns
Church of San Procolo/St. Prokulus in Naturno/Naturns
St. Prokulus Church This delightful little church was built in the first half of the VII century and houses the oldest frescoes in the German-speaking area of ...
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St. Kathrein Kirchlein church
St. Kathrein Kirchlein church
The romanesque church called St. Kathrein has a gothic apse and dates from the thirteenth century. It has well-preserved frescoes from the fourteenth century ...
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Church of Santa Margherita Lana
Church of Santa Margherita Lana
Small church with three apses in Romanesque style, with a cycle of frescoes dating back to 1215. Restored in 1969 and 1982. Traces of the Middle Ages are ...
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Saint Jacob Church at Grissiano
Saint Jacob Church at Grissiano
St Jakob Church, consecrated in 1142. The inconspicious sacred architecture contains art-historic first-class gems: Roman frescoes from the 12th Century, as ...
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