Gilfenklamm


Useful Information

Location: Stanghe, Ratschings/Racines, near Sterzing/Vipiteno.
Brenner motorway A22, exit Sterzing/Vipiteno, left at first roundabout SS44, signposted Jaufenpass. At Gasteig/Casateia turn right towards Stanghe. Parking lot at first turnoff to the left.
(46.880520, 11.376941)
Open: MAY to JUN daily 9-17.
JUL to AUG daily 9-18.
SEP to NOV daily 9-17.
[2021]
Fee: Adults EUR 5, Children (6-13) EUR 3, Family (2+1) EUR 10.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 4.50.
[2021]
Classification: GorgeGorge marble
Light: n/a
Dimension: L=800 m, H=15 m, VR=175 m.
Guided tours: self guided, L=2 km, VR=175 m, D=90 min.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Gilfenklamm, Jaufenstraße/Via Giovo 1, 39040 Ratschings/Racines (Stanghe) BZ, Tel: +39-0472-760608. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1800 used for floating wood.
1820s first attempts to promote the gorge to tourists.
1844 first written mention.
1893-1895 first explorations of the gorge, trails through the gorge built.
02-AUG-1896 opened to the public.
25-JUL-1898 official inauguration, gorge renamed Emperor Franz Joseph's Gorge.
1961 trails restored and reopened, as it is now in Italy renamed Cascate di Stanghe.

Description

The Gilfenklamm (Orrido di Gilf, Gilf Gorge) is located in the German-speaking part of Italy, in Südtirol (South Tyrolia). The Italian name is Gola di Stanghe (Stanghe Gorge), but often the emphasis is set on the waterfalls, and it is called Cascate di Stanghe (Stanghe Waterfalls). The gorge was cut into the white marble by the Ratschingser Bach, which flows through the Ratschingser Tal (Ratschings Valley). At the end of the valley, which is higher than the Ridnauntal, the brook looses 200 m in altitude until it reaches the Ridnauntal and flows into Ridnauner Bach (Ridnaun brook) river. The formation of the gorge started at the end of the last cold age, about 12,000 years ago, when the melting water of the glaciers started to cut into the white marble. It dug a 15 m deep gorge, which is even more spectacular because of its steepness.

The tour starts at the parking lot in Stanghe, which is used by the gorge and the nearby Hotel Ratschingserhof. If it is full you may use the parking lot at the soccer field, which is only 500 m/10 minutes walk away. From here it's about a kilometer to the entrance of the gorge, along the Ratschingser Bach. In the gorge there are trails cut into the rock, wooden elevated trails, bridges, and numerous staircases. At the upper end is the highest waterfall of the gorge, which is 15 m high. The gorge is not only narrow, but also quite steep, from the parking lot to the Gasthof Jaufensteg in Ausserratschings, right at the upper end of the gorge, its a 175 m ascent. The tour will take at least an hour, depending on your physical fitness. It's allowed to walk the gorge in both directions, so you can make the tour the other way round or return too your car through the gorge. We recommend a break at the Gasthof Jaufensteg, they have a beer garden and offer local and Italian food.

The gorge was first entered at the beginning of the 19th century by woodcutters for drifting wood. During spring when the water level was high in the river, the wood was floated down the valley. In the gorge the wood sometimes jammed and so somebody had to go in to loosen it. When the tourism in the Alps started in the 1820s, the locals tried to promote the Gilfenklamm as a tourist attraction. This was more or less unsuccessful due to the difficulty to enter the gorge. Even for the mostly British mountaineers of that time the gorge was too dangerous. The first written mention in 1944 says “Those who do not shy from the arduous route through this gorge will find a truly extraordinary waterfall. In the dark shade of the mossy coniferous trees, the river spurts forth from a narrow crevice in the rock wall in wide arches and a spray of milky white foam”

The next try was undertaken by the rather young Österreichischer Alpenverein (Austrian Alpine Club), Sektion Sterzing. They started with an exploration in 1893, and soon it was developed with trails. In difficult sections the trail was blasted from the rock with dynamite. It was opened to the public in 1896, but the official inauguration was two years later in 1898. On this occasion the gorge was also renamed Kaiser Franz Josephs Schlucht (Emperor Franz Joseph's Gorge). A commemorative plaque was placed at the entrance to the gorge, which is still unchanged. Quite fitting, it was made of white marble. However, the name failed to make the gorge popular. Especially the locals refused the new name, and so it was reverted to Gilfenklamm just a few years later. During World War I the gorge was close to the front, and nobody had time to visit or maintain the gorge. As a result the trails fell into disrepair and the gorge was blocked off. But in 1961 the trails were repaired by the associazione di abbellimento (beautification association) and the gorge reopened. It was renamed, as it was now in Italy, Cascate di Stanghe.

The surface of the marble in the gorge is green and black, a result of moss and other plants growing due to the high humidity in the gorge. The marble is mined in the valley until today. The Hofkirche in Innsbruck was decorated with marble from here. The operators state that this is the only gorge in marble in Europe. This is obviously untrue, as the Gorges de la Fou and the Gorges du Pont du Diable in France are both in marble. And the second is in the Alps, so it is not even the only marble gorge in the Alps.