Prehistoric places of power and worship in Partschins
Mystical cupped stones and prehistoric places of worship in South Tyrol
Prehistoric places of power and worship in Partschins
Prehistoric places of power and worship in Partschins
Prehistoric places of power and worship in Partschins
Prehistoric places of power and worship in Partschins
Prehistoric places of power and worship in Partschins
Prehistoric places of power and worship in Partschins
Prehistoric places of power and worship in Partschins
Prehistoric places of power and worship in Partschins

Prehistoric places of power and worship in Partschins

Mystical cupped stones and prehistoric places of worship in South Tyrol

The first inhabitants of Partschins/Parcines settled there about 6,000 years ago. This was around the time of Ötzi, the famous iceman.
During the late Neolithic period and the Chalcolithic the first settlers on Partschins’ Sonnenberg mountain were simple hunter/gatherers, and later settled farmers.
They built small, primitive huts in secure, dry locations on higher-altitude mountain slopes, since the river Etsch/Adige was originally wild, untamed and inhospitable and, as pure marshland, the area nearby was uninhabitable.
The dwellings in the settlements were often secured with circular earthworks. The prehistoric people built places where they could worship their gods on hills and elevated spots.
The people of the Stone and Bronze Ages chose special places of spiritual power for their religious activities and shamanic sacrificial offerings. They mainly selected high ground with expansive views of the valley for their holy sites. In pre-Christian times, people believed that these were the seats of the gods, and they felt closest to them there.

The best-known prehistoric settlements and places of worship, traces of circular earthworks, cupped stones and cave dwellings in Partschins are located close to the Partschins Waalweg irrigation channel path, near the Golderskofel viewing point, near the Ebnerhof in Tabland, by the “Unterwenter Rast” site of worship on the Sonnenberg, and near the Schutzhaus Hochganghaus on the Meraner Höhenweg High Altitude Trail near the famous Spronserseen Lakes.

The remains of these prehistoric places of worship and dwelling can be appreciated on a hike along the Partschins Waalweg (irrigation channel path) and the Sagenweg (legends trail). These sites are signposted with information boards (symbol: stone age huntsman) and descriptions are available in the Partschins and Rabland tourist information office or can be downloaded here as PDF file.
The Sonnenberg/Monte Sole was an ideal place to live for the first settlers.
According to estimates, between 500 and 800 people are believed to have settled on Partschins’ Sonnenberg as far as Vellau/Velloi (Algund/Lagundo). The inhabitants lived close to a spring or stream.
Today, in the immediate vicinity of the Schindelbach brook above the Sonnenberg Panoramic trail (Sonnenberger Panoramaweg n° 91), it is still possible to see the 250 metre-long remains of a track. The track probably linked a settlement on the Sonnenberg with the Schindelbach. Discoveries of the remains of prehistoric walls in this area (among other things near the fields named “Geldzöhl” and “Schweinskeahr”, which can be reached on the Sonnenberg panoramic trail via trail no. 26) led historians to conclude that several clans numbering a total of 50 - 100 people could have lived here.
In Tabland/Tablà near Partschins a 120 metre-long cyclopean wall bears witness to a prehistoric settlement. The wall is what is left of a hill fort from the Neolithic period. Close to the Golderskofel on the famous Sagenweg / Legend trail viewing point more scant remains of walls can be seen.
These are the meagre remnants of a prehistoric residential settlement from the Neolithic period.
Remains of walls close to the Golderskofel
Countless cupped stones in a variety of shapes and sizes have been found in Partschins.
The depressions in the cupped stones were cut by human hand. Their meaning and function are something of a mystery. It is speculated that they could be sacrificial bowls, fertility symbols for the purposes of worship, maps of the stars, or possibly solar and lunar calendars.
The best known Partschins cupped stones are located along and above the Partschinser Waalweg/Partschins irrigation channel path and on the Sagenweg/Partschins legends trail , near the “Unterwenter Rast” place of power, and near the Hochganghaus refuge on the Meraner Höhenweg High Altitude Trail. A marble cupped stone from the Zieltal Valley is on display in the Typewriter Museum "Peter Mitterhofer" in Partschins. This marble cupped stone (from the Lodner mountain) was probably used for religious worship rituals.
A large collection of cupped stones near to Partschins was found by the famous Spronser Lakes at 2,130 metres above sea level. Near the Pfitscher Schartl Gap the path leads through an ancient mountain shrine. At this highest place of worship in South Tyrol there are a total of 40 cupped stones with 1,300 bowls in them.
Mystical Cupped Stones
The place of healing and power that is Partschins Waterfall was probably venerated by the ancient settlers.
Although, since no search has ever been undertaken, this has not yet been confirmed by any finds, many settlements and places of worship have been found in the vicinity and so it is highly probable that the waterfall was revered. Water has always had a sacred meaning for man.

On the Sonnenberg between Partschins and Naturns/Naturno is another important prehistoric place of worship: the Unterwenter Rast (1,025 metres above sea level). This place of spiritual power is located on a rocky ledge with clear views of the valley, which can be accessed via the Grub or Unterwent farms (Suggested hike: Along the Meraner Höhenweg High Altitude Trail west to the farms on Partschins’ Sonnenberg). At the Unterwenter Rast, 10 symbols of worship have been found on four different rocks, of which two are straight crosses (interpreted as a deity with outstretched arms) and one a world cross. A well-preserved bowl can also be seen on one of the rocks. Some man-made steps on the summit lead up a small rise and end at a flat stone slab. This is believed to be the remains of a small altar.
The Unterwenter Rast was probably the central place of worship of the inhabitants of the time. Today there is a bench, which is an inviting place for hikers to stop for a rest. At the Unterwenter Rast there is also a wayside cross and directly behind it a small stone pyramid built into the mountainside. Its meaning is still unclear. Incidentally, today there are often wayside crosses, chapels and churches on the sites of prehistoric settlements and places of worship. These places of spiritual power, which the original settlers sought out, were taken over by Christianity.
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