Friday 13 December 2019. The snow had stopped falling the previous day, but plenty still lay on the ground as we stepped out of our apartment in Absam, a village immediately north of the medieval town of Hall in Tirol, on a cold mid-December morning. We had decided to walk to the Romedikirchl, a Catholic pilgrimage church situated on a hill above the nearby village of Thaur. The church is actually dedicated to Ss. Peter and Paul but commonly associated with a certain St. Romedius. According to a wildly anachronistic legend, St. Romedius was born in Thaur in the 4th century, the son of a Tyrolese count. Upon the death of his parents he withdrew to a cave in northern Italy to live as a hermit. In the 11th century the sanctuary of San Romedio was founded above the cave, and today the Romedius Pilgrimage Trail connects the sanctuary with Thaur. The walk to Romedikirchl would also take us partly along the Jakobsweg (‘Way of St. James’), better known by its Spanish name, Camino de Santiago, various branches of which wend their way through Europe before converging on the principle route in Spain.
From our apartment we followed Humboldstraße north and then east, turned left along a little pathway between fields, then right onto a wider pathway and left onto Breitweg. After some 200 metres along Breitweg we turned left onto Walburga-Schindl-Straße.
On Walburga-Schindl-Straße we passed our favourite Konditorei, Café Konditorei Mayr, where we had spent a very pleasant hour two evenings prior, then came to Basilika St. Michael, Absam’s parish church, located on the corner of Walburga-Schindl-Straße and Dörferstraße. Though dedicated to the Archangel Michael, the church has become a site of Marian pilgrimage thanks to a purported apparition in the late 1700s.
We turned left onto Dörferstraße, thus joining the Jakobsweg, which passes through Absam and Thaur on its way eventually to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. After 100 metres or so on Dörferstraße we turned right onto Artur Wechselberger-Weg, then immediately left onto an unnamed path. Here we began our journey through the beautiful, snow-dusted fields of Absam and Thaur, which stretch some 500 metres north to the Karwendels and even farther south to Hall. We proceeded west along the unnamed path, keep more or less parallel to, and north of, Dörferstraße.
After 800 metres or so along the unnamed path we turned left, then right onto Fischzuchtweg, following the Jakobsweg all the while. We were walking along an exposed ridge now; a frigid wind cut through us.
On Fischzuchtweg we came across a little shrine dedicated to a local 13th-century saint, St. Notburga, patroness of servants and peasants, who was canonised in 1862. She is depicted with ears of corn, a sickle and/or flowers.
Presently Fischzuchtweg petered out, and a bare track carried us through the last of the fields to Vigilgasse in Thaur.
Vigilgasse merged into Solegasse and, after a short while, we arrived at Dorfplatz, at the centre of town, where there is an old water trough. From Dorfplatz we headed north onto Klostergasse, thus leaving the Jakobsweg behind (which continues via Rumerweg to Rum and thence to Innsbruck and beyond). Klostergasse led to Pfarrkirche Maria Himmelfahrt, in whose churchyard we paused briefly.
From the Pfarrkirche Maria Himmelfahrt we turned north and proceeded along Kirchgasse then Schloßgasse in the direction of the Romedikirchl, which we could already see ahead of us.
The road steadily became steeper as we wound our way uphill towards the church, leaving the houses of Thaur behind. We were afforded a nice view over Thaur, with Pfarrkirche Maria Himmelfahrt prominent, and further, across to the other side of the Inn valley.
The path up the hill to the Romedikirchl is lined with a series of chapels and wayside shrines erected in the 1870s, a Via Dolorosa giving the hill the character of a ‘Mons Sacer’.
Rounding a ridge for the final approach, we passed under an arch…
…and arrived at a somewhat plain building with an onion dome on its tower. Romedikirchl has a long history. The church was originally built in 1367 but fell into ruins by the 1600s. A new church was built in 1640 but was replaced with the current building in the 1770s. Sadly the church was closed, so we could not look inside, but reportedly the “light-flooded interior impresses with a unique rococo decoration.” Meanwhile, relics of St. Romedius are kept in the high altar.
After walking around the church we explored the surrounds a little. We admired the fine-dining restaurant, Romediwirt, next door (closed) and tried to find a way into the adjacent ruined castle (perhaps closed as well). We admired the expansive views over the Inn valley and across to the Tux Alps.
When it was time to leave, after twenty minutes or so, it was unexpectedly difficult to find a way down that was not via Schloßgasse, but eventually we found our way to Stollenstrasse, then turned left onto Kaponsweg and left again onto Adolf-Pichler-Weg. En route we passed a tunnel that had been dug in the 1930s to facilitate the mining of salt (an important local industry with a very long history) but which instead struck water, a circumstance that ended up contributing significantly to Thaur’s water supply.
We followed Adolf-Pichler-Weg for 800 metres or so through the forest then, crossing Moosgasse, walked the final one-and-a-half kilometres back through the fields, the majestic Karwendels now on our left, to Absam.
From Absam we caught bus 501 to Hall in Tirol for a late lunch at the friendly but out-of-the-way Cafe im Erzspeicher.
After lunch we caught the bus back to Absam, where we spent a very pleasant hour once again at Café Konditorei Mayr. Then, just as the light was beginning to fail, we walked back to our apartment through the fields. What a perfect day out.