IN THE Grödener-Thal lie dispersed in every direction about 135 farms, which form the parish of Wolkenstein, also called Santa Maria, and above its pretty little chapel, on the top of the peak of Sabbiakopf, rise the ruins of the once famous stronghold of Wolkenstein, which is said to have been built in the time of the Romans by a pagan general, who through his wild and cruel behaviour became the scourge of the inhabitants of all the surrounding valleys.
One day a poor pilgrim went to the castle, asking for charity, but the general ill-treated him so cruelly that he died, and in his last agony the pilgrim cursed the castle, and invoked upon it immediate destruction. Directly afterwards a huge mass of rock fell and buried it, together with its tyrannical lord, who was not less dreaded than the fearful Orco, whose abode lay in this country.
Some centuries later on, a wandering knight arrived in the neighbourhood, seeking treasures in the ruins of the castle; and it is generally believed that his search was successful, because before then he was very poor, and now he began to build a magnificent castle upon the old ruins, and called it also Wolkenstein. Every future proprietor took the name of the castle, together with the title of Count, and up to the present day the family are a wealthy, powerful, and extended race. One of their ancestors was the celebrated Minnesinger, Oswald von Wolkenstein, who lived in the days of “Frederick with the empty pocket.”
Later on the castle was struck by lightning, and one of the Counts built a new castle in the valley below, and gave it the name of Fischburg; and the old castle of Wolkenstein has since tumbled into decay, but its magnificent and imposing ruins are still to be seen.