Rafenstein Castle … the majestic ruin which dominates Bolzano

The imposing ruin of Rafenstein Castle, built in the 13th century high above the gorge at the entrance to the Sarntal valley, overlooks the city of Bolzano.

The name Rafenstein comes from the German word "Raben", meaning crow, and thus signifies "Fortress of the Crow".

History History

Castle History

Rafenstein Castle was built in the 13th century on the orders of Bishop Federico Vanga of Trento (1207-1218), and later passed into the hands of Bishop Enrico II of Trento. The castle was severely damaged during the latter’s conflict with Count Mainardo II of Tyrol.

Between 1348 and 1350, a rebuilding programme began on the orders of Louis V, Duke of Bavaria, the second husband of Countess Margherita Maultasch. The castle passed from the Habsburgs to the von Rafenstein family, and finally to the Weineck family, who oversaw a project of expansion, particularly during the 16th century when it was renovated in late Gothic style.

In 1599, the castle came into possession of the Counts of Wolkenstein.

Baron Marx Sittich von Wolkenstein transformed the structure into the family seat adorning it with paintings and decorations. He also established an important Wunderkammer or Cabinet of Treasures: a collection of artworks and rare and precious objects, among which were polished horns, ostrich eggs, and a sea fish. The remains of a Nile crocodile, which probably featured in this collection, were found during excavations.

During the Napoleonic Wars, the castle was heavily damaged and so, being unusable, was abandoned and only used for agricultural purposes which led to the castles ultimate decline.

Information Information

Visitor Information

Rafenstein Castle is only open to the public during special events, such as the Castelronda, held in June by the Bolzano Tourist Board.

Guided tours Guided tours

Guided Tours

Private guided tours of Rafenstein castle can be arranged in Italian, German, and English for groups of a minimum of 20 participants.


Ticket: €5.00


For information and bookings:

(+39) 0471 329808

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Directions Directions


Rafenstein Castle can be reached in the following ways:

By private vehicle

Take the road SP 99 in the direction of San Genesio/Jenesien.

By bus

Take bus number 156S.

On foot

Follow via Rafenstein from the San Genesio/Jenesien cable car station. ATTENTION: the road has a gradient of 25%.