Berneck Castle and castle houses
Berneck Castle is situated on a rocky promontory at the entrance to Kaunertal, towering some 150 m above the valley.
The castle is linked to the village of Kaus and to its plateau via a line of gentle hills. It was the castle’s role to protect the most important transportation route via Reschen Pass - it may have been built by the bishops of Regensburg, who owned properties in the region of Prutz. In 1225, the castle was inhabited by the Berneck family, who held on to the castle until 1415. In 1435, Berneck met the Swiss Hans Wilhelm von Mülinen, a trusty follower and friend of the then Tyrolean sovereign Duke Friedrich IV. In 1499, Emperor Maximilian Berneck added the castle to his direct possessions. The Emperor’s interest in hunting in Kaunertal with its rich wildlife, including its many ibexes, may have played a part in the purchase. Records show two hunting visits to the castle by Maximilian, who was known for his hunting skills. Decades of changing owners and an unrelenting decline followed. The castle fell into ruin after 1870. Thanks to the extensive reconstruction work by the Hörmann family, who acquired the ruin in 1976, the castle can today again be admired in its whole glory - the castle is open for visitors during the summer months.
In Kauns there are 3 old, beautifully painted farm houses which once belonged to Burg Berneck castle - these houses are called “castle houses”. The paintings on the castle houses depict emperor Maximilian’s history. They also depict the notorious poacher Wiesejaggl, who was up to mischief in the woods of Kaunertal. Today farmer’s families from Kauns live in the three castle houses and they are privately owned.