Walser Regions | Vorarlberg-Tirol

Großes Walsertal


The colonisation of Blons took place in the high mediaeval ages through peasants from the Walgau. Therefore, many Reatoroman field names can be found. In the 14th century Walser started settling. The scattered settlement between St. Gerold and Sonntag was called “Berg Plons” in the past and “Pläns” or “Plans” in the 15th century. Since the building of their own church (1687), Blons is a independent rectorate since 1689. It also became an independent political community once the sovereignty of St. Gerold was suspended in 1806. Blons was affected by several catastrophes through avalanches, the most severe damages occurred in 1497, 1717, 1853 and 1954. In the night from 11 to 12 January 1954, 29 homes, 56 barns and 30 further buildings were destroyed and 57 people killed. The rebuilding of the mountain farms, the installation of freight routes as well as extensive slope-stabilising structures and reforestation started in the same year.


Until the 14th century, the region round the mountains Zafernerhorn, Türtschhorn and Blasenka was an unsociable wilderness. The place names and other Roman field names suggest that at least parts of today’s municipality had been used as farming and hunting land in the time of the Reatoroman colonisation. The name “Fontanella” obviously is Roman and derives from Fontana = souce or fountain. The diminutive Fontanella = little fountain. Therefore, the village’s name is taken from the mineral and sulphur spring 200m south of the saw. This spring was already known to the Romans. In a document dating from 1405 the words “Schwebel gen den Seeberg” can be found.
The spelling of the place names often changes over the course of time and in 1363 it was mentioned documentary for the first time. It read “Alb Funtanell”, in 1400 “Funtanella” and in 1453 “Funtanellen”. Later also “Fatnell, Vatnellen, Vontnellen” and “Vantellen”.
As in many Walser regions the colonisation took place downwards: once the Walser who came over the Furkapass had settled in Damüls they also populated the southern slopes of today’s Fontanella. The allied polity consisting of the original settlements Ugen, Damüls and Fontanella existed as an independent court “Obergricht” for almost 500 years.


The place name Raggal is of Roman origin and comes from the pre-Walser time. The name derives from the Roman word “runcar” (to stub) and there are many Reatoroman field names like Grafülla, Gavadura, Faludriga, Falazera which are of Roman origin. The German speaking people form Valais gave German names to their cleared woodlands, too: Wies, Sandbühel, Ahorn, Tönis Boden and so on. The settlements of Marul (derived from mudflow), Plazera and Litze also belong to the municipal district of Raggal. With its 41.68km² Raggal is the second largest community of the valley.
About one quarter of the municipality belong to the baron of Gemmingen from Friedensfels in Germany. In the beginning of the 20th century he bought several alps and estates in Marultal. Different investigations prove that the region had been inhabited and colonised all year round already before the Walser immigration. According to an inscription in the spire of the church, there had already been a spire with square base in 1031. In 1138 the first chapel was consecrated. Records indicate that two settlers, Simon Spindler and Peter Thegen shared one acreage. The border’s straight course of this division from the river to the crest can still be seen today. In 1586, Raggal became an independent parish. The patrons are Nikolaus and Theodul. Before that the settlement area belonged to the parish St. Martin in Ludesh. In 1796, Marul became a counselling community, a rare parochial construction which was subordinate to the patronage of a mother-parish. The church’s patron is the Holy Katharina.

Soon after 1300, the Walser who were the first settlers cleared the land and erected their farms. There were 69 homes in 1621. From 1397 to 1806 the head of the district council held a tribunal in Garsella. There was already a chapel in the 14th century; in 1406 a counselling community was established and at the latest in 1457, an independent parish created. In 1710, Buchboden became a parish. Around this time, a bathhouse existed in Rotenbrunnen which was in possession of the convent Weingarten until 1804. The possibilities for expansion are limited in this region with is highly structured by nature. There were severe damages due to avalanches in those hazard areas where people built, for example in 1526, 1689, 1731, 1806 and 1954.

St. Gerold
St. Gerold is situated in the sunny side of the front part of Großwalsertal. Scattered over two hills, part of the population lives of farming. The bigger part is forced to work as commuters in the close by Walgau, though. Two guesthouses, the Propstei and several private pensions provide for a sustainable tourism. A well sign-posted path network can be used by hikers in the valley as well as on the above alps.
The coat of arms points to the community’s history of colonisation. The first settler was Gerold around the turn of the century. On top of his grave a convent was built and Reatoromans settled in its vicinity. The person Gerold on the left side of the coat of arms represents this epoch. The ibex on the right hand side is the symbol of the Walser. In the 14th century, this people cleared and settled the still free meadows and gradually drove out the Romans. The German language prevailed.

Thüringerberg actually is an old Reatoroman settlement at the beginning of Großwalsertal. The name “Montaniolos” is documented as early as 831. In the 9th century property by the convent Pfäfer is traceable. Estates of the convent Weingarten are mentioned since the 13th century. In the same century the “Veste Blumeneck” was built near the municipal border. It is a ruin today. The scattered settlement of Gapiescha and Innerberg was extended through the settling of Walser as from the 14th century. From 1628 to 1635 the chapel in Parplons was built and from 1782 to 1783 today’s church was erected. As from 1786, Thüringerber was called Expositur of Thüringen and since 1853 an independent parish.

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