2 adults

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2 adults

A good choice for your holiday:
Alpenstadt Bludenz

  • 163 landlords and hosts
  • 34 lifts and cable cars
  • 123 kilometers of pistes
  • Pure nature

A good choice for your holiday:

  • 163 accommodations
  • 34 lifts and cable cars
  • 123 kilometers of pistes
  • Pure nature

A good choice for your holiday:

  • 163 landlords and hosts
  • 34 lifts and cable cars
  • 123 kilometers of pistes
  • Pure nature

A good choice for your holiday:
Biosphere reserve Großes Walsertal

  • 163 holiday properties
  • 34 lifts and cable cars
  • 123 kilometers of pistes
  • Pure nature

Rooms 1

"Wäldletobel" Trail Klösterle am Arlberg

800 Years of living History above Klösterle am Arlberg

Are you currently on the Wäldletobelweg in Klösterle am Arlberg? For each information station you will find further information, pictures and interviews with contemporary witnesses below.

Station 1: On the way on historical tracks

Below you will find the course of the Wäldletobel trail as well as a suggestion for the way back as a circular hike.

Station 2: Klösterle and its history

From history

Prehistoric finds prove an early access to the Arlberg, but it is questionable whether people already lived permanently in this area. Pollen analysis studies prove at least an alpine economic use that existed for thousands of years.

Regarding the settlement of the Klostertal in the Middle Ages, however, there is also some ambiguity. The valley is mentioned in a document for the first time in 1218, when Count Hugo I of Montfort donated a chapel dedicated to St. Mary and "the forest facing the Arle" to the Order of St. John. Whether this chapel in Klösterle existed before is not clear from the document. The Knights of St. John subsequently founded a hostel in which they offered accommodation to pilgrims, crusaders and merchants.
The St. Mary Chapel seems to have become too small over time, which is why a new church was built in 1332. The new church was consecrated in honor of the Mother of God and John the Baptist, which again indicates the importance of the Knights of St. John. In time the village got its name "Klösterle" and the whole valley the name "Klostertal". How long the Knights of St. John worked in Klösterle is not clear from the sources. The Klostertal came into the possession of the Werdenbergs after the division of the House of Montfort in 1258; the Montforts possibly lost interest in promoting the hospice after losing their possessions east of the Arlberg.

Stuben am Arlberg around 1800, painting by Franz Karl Zoller

A document from 1424 mentions a "Hochhaus" (designation for an official house), which according to the description of its location was probably the abandoned monastery building. This is mentioned for the last time in 1509 as "hoch hus by der kirchen"(high house by the church).
According to the chronicle of pastor Mathias Sander, the Johannite monastery (and thus probably also the high house) stood below the sacristan's house and its ruins were visible until 1717. A certain Ignaz Freytag would have built a new house at that place in that year.

The former inn "Johanniterstube" is said to have served as an economic building of the monastery and was once connected with the opposite house No. 71 by an archway. This arch was removed in 1823 when the Arlberg street was extended. The administrator or vicar of the hospice and hospital would have lived in this house (the old calendar from the 16th century still mentions a vicarage). The house south of the street also housed the manorial customs office. A customs office in Klösterle is first mentioned in a document from 1343. Since the 17th century the Friz family was the owner of the customs, from 1674 as imperial customs.

  • Wood engraving of Klösterle around 1890
  • Depiction of Klösterle with the archway over the Arlberg Road in a drawing of the projected extension of the Arlberg Road from 1733.
  • Klösterle as a typical street village in a photograph from around 1900

Station 3: "Klostertaler Bergwälder"

European nature reserve Natura 2000

Already at the entrance to the Klostertal, an imposing and richly structured mountain landscape opens up to the observer - rugged mountain peaks, steep torrents, spectacular waterfalls and interlocking forests and meadows give the Klostertal its truly unique character.

The "Klostertaler Bergwälder" stretch like a ribbon along the sunny side of the Klostertal from Bludenz to Langen am Arlberg. Above all, steep forests with abundant dead wood and colourful meagre meadows characterise the landscape. The "untidy forests", in which dead trees are sometimes still present in large numbers, offer the best conditions for a variety of highly specialised species. The most prominent of these are probably the various woodpeckers. A multitude of rare and partly protected species, such as the colourful orchids, thrive in the flower-rich meadows. The bustle of insects and other small animals also makes the meadows hum and buzz.

The close interlocking of near-natural forests and extensive meadows results in a particularly rich habitat for a wide variety of creatures. From lichens and mosses to rare heat-loving plants, endangered birds and shy mammals.

  • Batziggwald oberhalb von Klösterle
  • Blick auf die Klostertaler Bergwälder von Langen am Arlberg Richtung Westen
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Klostertaler Bergwälder

Klostertaler Bergwälder
Klostertaler Bergwälder

Naturvielfalt Vorarlberg: Alle Fakten und Informationen zum Europaschutzgebiet Klostertaler Bergwälder. Schutzgüter, Typische und seltene Arten von Tieren, Pflanzen und Lebensräumen, Hinweise für Gebietsbesuchende und vieles mehr.

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Station 4: The traffic over the Arlberg

Shaping settlement development in the Klostertal

Since time immemorial, the present-day municipality of Klösterle has been connected in a special way with traffic over the Arlberg. Customs posts, inns and the activity of muleteers and carters or "snow breaking" were important elements of economic development. The development of Arlberg traffic led to the founding of the monastery mentioned in the document of 1218. Statements about Arlberg traffic and settlement pioneers before this time could only be made on the basis of archaeological investigations. It stands to reason that the attention that the Arlberg received from the 13th century onwards led to an increase in traffic and the expansion of the route. New salt deposits were found in Hall at that time, which promoted the salt trade and east-west traffic. An extension of the Arlberg road and the first collection of road tolls are mentioned in 1312.

This medieval road over the Arlberg was partially uncovered during archaeological investigations between 2005 and 2008 and in 2011. In the meantime, a hiking trail leads over the historical traces.

Accident of the antipope John XXIII at the Arlbergweg 1414

Despite the development of the paths, crossing the Arlberg would remain dangerous, especially in winter. To offer help to travellers in distress, Heinrich Findelkind built a hostel on the Arlberg in 1386, following the example of other Alpine passes. Already in the first seven years, he and his helpers were able to save the lives of 50 people. In order to complete the hospice and build a chapel, almsmen were sent out to collect donations. From 1393 onwards, the benefactors were entered with their coats of arms in their own coat of arms and messenger books, three of which have survived. Pope Boniface IX supported the collectors, as did numerous bishops, and issued a letter of indulgence in 1398. Contrary to popular belief, however, there was no brotherhood ("fraternitas") to St. Christoph in the Middle Ages.

  • Depiction of the St. Christoph Hospice around 1840
  • Archaeological investigations at the Arlbergweg in the municipality of Klösterle
  • Pedestrians on the Arlberg road near Langen, postcard around 1910

The road over the Arlberg existed until about 1500 and then declined again to a mule track because the route over the Fernpass was increasingly preferred. In the following centuries, Arlberg traffic experienced a decline, although mule traffic remained of considerable importance. In Klösterle, the so-called "Wartesstall" was a reminder of this time of mule traffic over the Arlberg until it was demolished a few years ago. Another task of the inhabitants of Klösterle and Stuben was the so-called "snow breaking". Ever since the Middle Ages, the route over the Arlberg had been kept open in winter if possible. If the avalanche was safe, a route had to be made available for pedestrians, pack animals and sledges. For this, a so-called "breakage fee" could be collected in Klösterle and Stuben.

Until the second half of the 18th century, the road over the Arlberg was in poor condition. All efforts to improve it had remained unsuccessful until then. It was only Emperor Joseph II who was interested in an extension of the Arlberg road for political and military reasons. During his reign, a corresponding project was drawn up in 1782 and in 1785 the road was repaired to such an extent that it was passable for wagons throughout. Above Stuben, a new route was created by blasting at the so-called "Posteck". Soon after its opening, a regular postal service was introduced in 1796 with a post rider and from 1818 with a pneumatic post. Efforts to expand the Arlberg road continued from 1822.

Station 5: Torrent and Avalanche Control

Influence of the mountain landscape on transport

Men of the leaning section during the construction of a snow dam

Internationally, too, the influence of the mountain landscape on transport is hardly as noticeable in any other region as it is in the Klostertal. The natural conditions posed particular challenges during the construction of the Arlberg railway from 1880 to 1884, as numerous viaducts and tunnels had to be built along the route. While the years of railway construction were not marked by any extraordinary weather events, the extent of the danger became apparent in 1888 at the latest in view of the enormous snow masses and numerous avalanches.

Since the end of the 19th century, torrent and avalanche control in the Klostertal has been further developed over more than 130 years. In no other place is this as clearly visible as on the slopes above Langen am Arlberg, especially at the so-called "Blasegg". This is one of the most important areas in Europe and a kind of open-air museum for the development of avalanche control, which can be seen in systems such as the "Arlberg snow rake". Several men from the community of Klösterle were once employed by the backrest section, whose task was to protect the railway facilities. For this purpose, snow dams were built in winter, while in spring and summer rocks were cleared and shoring measures were repaired. After 1884, the natural conditions in the Klösterle area led to numerous changes in the route. With the "Großtobel" tunnel and the "Wildentobel" tunnel, large parts of the route were tunneled before the First World War. Today, the old railway line serves as a hiking trail. In the 21st century, the last part was completed with the "Blisadona" tunnel, which means that the "Wäldlitobel" bridge - a kind of "landmark" of Klösterle - is no longer used today.

  • Shoring systems in the "Blasegg" area
  • Construction of a retaining wall
  • Avalanche barriers above Langen am Arlberg

Station 6: Construction of the Arlberg Railway

Klösterle was decisively shaped by the Arlberg Railway

Festive reception at Langen station
Festive reception at Langen station

The first plans for the construction of a railway connection over the Arlberg go back to the 1840s. Carl Ganahl, the industrialist and president of the chamber of commerce in Feldkirch, was a particularly strong advocate for the construction of a railway linking Vorarlberg and Tyrol. Concrete plans regarding the design and construction of the line began in the 1860s and were given additional impetus by the construction of the Vorarlberg Railway, which stretched from Lindau to Bludenz. What followed was an eight-year struggle - a "parliamentary tale of woe" - as one author put it. Different variants of the route were conceived and rejected again, until finally the solution of a tunnel between Langen and St. Anton was preferred. The bill to build the railway connection between Innsbruck and Bludenz was sanctioned by the Imperial Council in 1880 and signed by Emperor Franz Joseph.

The construction director of the Arlberg Railway was Julius Lott, born in Vienna in 1836. However, he died in 1883, one and a half years before the work was completed (of tuberculosis, not suicide as many claim). The 136.6 kilometre long railway line from Innsbruck to Bludenz was divided into a 72.8 kilometre long valley section Innsbruck-Landeck, a 27.7 kilometre long east ramp Landeck-St. Anton, a 10.3 kilometre long crown section St. Anton-Langen (the Arlberg tunnel) and a 25.8 kilometre long west ramp Langen-Bludenz.

Work on the Arlberg Tunnel began in St. Anton am Arlberg and Langen am Arlberg as early as June 1880. The breakthrough of the directional tunnel in the Arlberg tunnel was achieved on 19 November 1883, much earlier than planned. In the last year of construction, the ramp sections were built, until finally, on 3 September 1884, a train was able to travel the route from Landeck to Bludenz for the first time. The ceremonial inauguration by Emperor Franz Josef took place on 20 September 1884, and the Arlberg railway began scheduled service the very next day.

At least as important as the changes in the landscape brought about by the construction of the Arlberg railway were the social changes that accompanied this major construction site. The number of workers employed on the Langen side of the Arlberg tunnel reached a peak of 2,689 in October 1883. On the west ramp between Langen and Bludenz, the peak was 4,829 men in June 1884. By comparison, the population of Klösterle in 1869, a good decade before construction began, had been just 526. From these figures one can see the enormous challenges that the population of the community had to face in the face of the tunnel and railway construction site. In Langen, a separate workers' settlement consisting of residential houses and barracks was built. In Stuben, Klösterle and Danöfen, entire workers' families were housed in private quarters. Economic life flourished, not least due to the opening of numerous inns and pubs.

  • Site of the railway station in Langen am Arlberg
  • The townscape of Klösterle was largely shaped by the Arlberg railway around 1900
  • Workers' accommodation in Langen

Station 7: Wäldletobel bridge

Landmark of the village

The Arlberg railway, built between 1880 and 1884, impresses with its engineering structures. Due to the natural conditions in the Klostertal and Stanzertal, numerous bridges, tunnels and viaducts had to be built. Today, these have left their mark on the landscape in a special way. In Klösterle, the Wäldletobel bridge in particular has become a kind of "landmark" of the village due to its location and visibility. The semi-circular bridge spans the Wäldletobel Gorge at a width of 114 metres and a height of 56 metres. The bridge was built with local quarry stone masonry. The wooden scaffolding required for this was later used for the construction of the schoolhouse in Klösterle. It is an impressive testimony to the craftsmanship involved in the construction of the Arlberg railway. The Klösterle stop was once located in the area of the bridge. The railway line was relocated to the Blisadona tunnel a little more than 20 years ago.

  • Postcard of the Wäldetobel Bridge around 1920
  • Klösterle with the striking Wäldletobel Bridge around 1950
  • View under the bridge portal of the village of Klösterle around 1940

Station 8: Wäldletobel Gorge

Named after a small forest

The geology of the valley is characterised by a striking tectonic boundary line that runs from the east south of the valley floor to Dalaas and forks here. On the north side of the valley rise the imposing limestones of the Northern Limestone Alps, while to the south the crystalline rock of the Central Alps (Silvrettadecke) shapes the landscape of the Verwall group. Several longitudinal valleys developed along this geological boundary, of which the Klostertal lies in the far west.

The Alfenz, which originates in Stuben am Arlberg from the union of the Rauzbach and Stubenbach, flows through the Klostertal to its confluence with the Ill between Bludenz and Lorüns. Its numerous tributaries along the valley flanks have a steep gradient; in some places striking waterfalls have formed. The Wäldletobel with its gorge is an impressive example of this. In addition, numerous mountain lakes characterise the alpine landscape, of which Lake Spuller and Lake Formarin are the best known and largest.

The torrent, named after a small forest, is best known for the viaduct over which the Arlberg railway used to run. The gorge can be walked through today. After debris flows, the ravine can become a raging torrent and cause massive destruction in a short time. This was most recently the case in 2010.

  • View of the Wäldletobel Gorge in 1968 (anniversary year 750 years of Klösterle)
  • Upper area of the Wäldletobel
  • Postcard of the Wäldletobel around 1920


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