The Tirol used to be a place where people passed through: merchants travelled from Holland and Germany to Italy; tourists visited the Italian or French Riviera. Times have changed ! The Tirol is a destination in its own right. Winter sports and summer holidays are a guaranteed success. Wandering among the lush Alpine mountains with streams rushing down to sleepy little valleys is an experience of pure enjoyment beyond description.
Archaeological investigation around Kufstein has dated human settlement back to the Old Stone Age. In the 18th century BC the Alpine passes had become of great importance to ruling the world. The Romans in their time also saw the great value of these passes and by 50 AD the Emperor Claudius had incorporated the Tirol into the province of Rhaetia. There were only two urban settlements in the Tirol during the Roman occupation. The remains of one of them are still to be seen just outside Lienz in East Tirol. Initially a communication link between the North and the South of the Roman Empire, the Tirol saved the Romans from being overrun by the Germans for a time. All throughout history the region has played a vital role in the defence of certain empires. The latest was the siege of Napoleon on the Hapsburg Empire.
It was in the last centuries of the Roman occupation that the Tirol became Christian. Until the 15th century the whole of the country was faithful to the powers of the Roman Catholic Church. Under the very conservative Ferdinand 1, the people of Tirol got restless because of Lutherean influence from Germany. In 1526 peasants and miners started revolting. It has been suggested however, that this was due more to bad living standards than religious motivation. The poorly armed peasants and miners had no chance against the combined Tirolean and Salzburger armies and were quickly defeated. One should not forget that the majority of the people here were very conservative and dogmatic in the liturgy. This explains why the revolters did not get the support they would have had in the North of Europe. In 1560 liturgy and rituals were given a more elevated tone, in spite of the protestants who wanted a more simplified ritual. However, the people of the Tirol welcomed this, which is how the Tirol got it's nickname "Heiliges Land" which, when translated, means Holy Land.
Archduke Sigmund Franz
In 1665, Archduke Sigmund Franz died without heirs and the country automatically fell to the Vienna based Habsburg dynasty.
The Great War
The Great War then changed everything. Under a secret treaty, Italy agreed to join the English and French in the allied war effort in return for territorial rights on South Tirol. In 1915 Bolzano and Innsbruck were bombed by Italian aircrafts. Italy immediately brought the province under Tretino administration and brought Italian speaking people into the area. Nowadays people are trying to get South Tirol back under Austrian administration but they are in the minority.
Second World War
During the second World War nothing changed, although it was no secret that Hitler was very keen to bring the Tirol back to its pre First World War shape. He needed Mussolini and without granting him the rights on South Tirol he would never have had Mussolini and his men.
Austrian and Italian
Therefore the Tirol is now split into an Austrian and Italian part with Innsbruck as the Capital of the Austrian Tirol and Bolzano as the Capital of the Italian Tirol, South Tirol. The Austrian Tirol is not contiguous; the two parts identified as North and East Tirol.