The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian
“All renovators of old castles are crazy,” wrote the philosopher Karl Julius Weber. On our arrival Franz Gurschler is already smilingly expecting us in front of the entrance of the castle and seems rather cultivated and actually not at all crazy. To be on the safe side, I ask again – do you have to be crazy to live in such a castle in 2019? “A little, maybe,” he laughs. “The hallways in the castle are long, the winters are cold, moisture seeps in, even the smallest intervention in the building’s fabric must be approved, and maintenance is costly. A castle is a life’s work. But a beautiful one.” And then we enter another world through an inconspicuous door.
For ober 800 years, Hochnaturns castle has served as the guardian of the village of Naturno. For our magazine, we were allowed to take a rare look inside the still-inhabited castle.
He leads us past the fresco cycle, one half of the fresco depicts historical events such as the Peasants’ War, and the other excerpts from the mythology of Naturns, into the halls and rooms inside the castle.
We walk through various rooms: the living room, the Reformation room, the writing room and the judge’s chamber, in which the trial of Michael Gaismair, the legendary leader of the Tyrolean Peasant War, was heard. The rooms display panelled walls, coffered ceilings and heavy chests, while portraits of the bishops of Chur look down mildly upon visitors.
It is as if you have fallen out of time, and no matter where you look, the view is beautiful. Above all the big windows are outstanding, enlarged decades ago by former owner Gottfried Georg Haas. “Such a thing would no longer be conceivable today, the protection of historical monuments would not allow it,” explains Franz Gurschler, adding with a smile: “Of course, we are happy about the large windows today. There is hardly a castle that is as bright and flooded with light inside as Hochnaturns.”
The mixture of ancient tradition and everyday life is noticeable and lends the castle a special atmosphere. Different epochs and styles are mixed together in the architecture, and even inside the castle’s appearance is not uniform, but rather an expression of past owners, “as if every generation would immortalize itself with something,” smiles Franz Gurschler.
“A castle is a life’s work. But a beautiful one.”
The Mastropaolo-Gurschler family’s handwriting, after managing the castle from 1952 to 1992 as a guesthouse, is to be found mainly in the preservation of the complex. Again and again parts were elaborately prepared and restored in consultation with the monument office, concluding with the tiled roof. At the end Franz Gurschler shows us the heart of the castle – a green tiled stove, “unique in Central Europe.”
But what makes it so special? The host explains: “This tiled stove dates from the 16th century and is still fully functional today. That is unique. Experts have come from all over to look at the stove and examine it.” And because it is so special, the oven is spared. With one exception: on 23 December, the birthday of the lady of the castle, the stove still creates a pleasant warmth.
Castle Hochnaturns