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Hotel Goldener Alder

Maria, Hermann, and Christoph Mayr about 500 years of hospitality in the old town: How Bressanone’s golden eagle soared through the times.

Bressanone, old town, Isarco, riverwalk, Finsterwirt, Goldener Adler, Maria Mayr, Hermann Mayr, Christoph Mayr

Hosts Maria, Hermann, and Christoph Mayr about illustrious guests, auspicious gossip, and the perks of being right next to River Isarco, about long-past incidents, and future perspectives around the Goldener Adler in Bressanone.

Historic: The history of the Goldener Adler goes back more than 500 years. Illustrious guests included the likes of Michel de Montaigne, Emperor Maximilian I, and Cosimo de’ Medici. How come?

Maria Mayr
Host at the Hotel Goldener Adler

South Tyrol has always been an area of transit on the way to Rome. The Goldener Adler was a post hotel. The beautiful ground floor vault in the oldest part of the building used to be horse stables. They were surrounded by fields—also known as horse fodder.

Why is the place named after a golden eagle?

Maria Mayr: The eagle is Tyrol’s heraldic animal. Back in the day, numerous houses here carried it in their names. There were Black, Red, and Golden Eagles, the Golden one being the most valuable, of course.

Impressed by the architecture: very special vaults and atriums

Wie ist Ihre Familie zu diesem Hotel gekommen?

Maria Mayr: Es war ungefähr 1984, da erzählte man in der ganzen Stadt, der Finsterwirt – das Restaurant, das wir schon damals geführt haben – habe den Goldenen Adler gekauft. Sogar gute Bekannte haben uns schon gratuliert – nur wir wussten nichts davon. (lacht) Wir sind der Geschichte auf den Grund gegangen und haben bei Elsa Knoflach nachgefragt, der damaligen Besitzerin. Sie meinte: „Wenn ich den Adler verkaufe, dann nur an den Finsterwirt.“ Sie wollte ihr Haus nur jemandem verkaufen, der es als Beherbergungsbetrieb weiterführt. Schließlich war das Haus seit dem Bau 1500 ununterbrochen eine Gaststätte.

Und dann haben Sie den Goldenen Adler tatsächlich erstanden …

Hermann Mayr: Im Finsterwirt hatten wir keine Zimmer. Wir haben unsere Gäste immer in den Goldenen Adler geschickt – und Elsa Knoflach ihre zu uns. Es gab also – damals wie heute – ein Zusammenspiel, das man nutzen konnte. Im Zuge des Verkaufs hat Elsa Knoflach für sich eine Art „Rente“ mit uns ausgehandelt. Sie wollte jedes Jahr für 14 Tage ein Zimmer und Verpflegung im Haus.

Sie ist also jahrelang hierher zurückgekehrt?

Hermann Mayr: Ja. Und ich habe ihr an jedem Tag ihres Aufenthalts persönlich das Essen gebracht. Sie war sehr genügsam und hatte keine großen Ansprüche. Irgendwann ist sie zu ihrem Bruder ins Vinschgau gezogen. Danach ist sie nur mehr zwei oder drei Mal gekommen.

»We want to go back to our historical roots, to bring out historically interesting details and shed more light on the architecture.«

Christoph Mayr
Host at the Goldenen Adler

ADLER Historic Guesthouse

On the waterside promenade of the Isarco river at the entrance to the historic downtown of Bressanone, the venerable ADLER Historic Guesthouse  has been hosting guests since the year 1500, as verified by the chronicles. 

ADLER Historic Guesthouse

One question presents itself immediately when entering the house. Why are the reception and the public area of the Goldener Adler on the first floor?

Maria Mayr: There used to be a high risk of flooding in Bressanone, which is why no house in the old town has a cellar. All historic guesthouses run on the first floor. The problem is: People don’t find you these days when you’re not visible on street level. So, we installed the public Café Adler in the former storage room on the ground floor.

Your house is close to the Isarco River. Has the Goldener Adler ever been flooded?

Maria Mayr: The records on the big flood of 1520 say that the ‘Ruepert Halbegg House’ at the ‘Gulden Adler’ was half-overturned. Ruprecht Halbegg was the owner of the Goldener Adler during that time. But luckily, the house itself was never badly damaged. Back then, it directly bordered the Isarco River, the water would go up to the house walls. It was not before the 17th century that they built a riverside road, known today as the Promenade, in the course of a river regulation.

How would you describe the Goldener Adler’s relationship to the river today?

Maria Mayr: We consider ‘living by the river’ as part of our identity. The water has a calming, ruminant effect. Its freshness makes you feel like you are in the middle of nature, while, of course, you are just outside the old town of Bressanone.

Entering this house really makes one marvel.

Maria Mayr:  We felt the same way when we first came here, and so do the guests. One steps inside and is immediately impressed by the architecture: Wow, these vaults! It was this first impression that convinced us to buy the Goldener Adler. The atriums are also very special. Back in the day, they were a popular means of letting light into the house. Sometimes, architects drop by to look at the way the atriums were designed.

We heard about the Goldener Adler planning another reconstruction for 2022. Is this another piece of fake news?

Maria Mayr (laughing): No, it’s true. The next generation is about to take over the Goldener Adler and re-emphasise the place’s history by reconstructing in collaboration with architects bergmeisterwolf.

Christoph Mayr: We want to go back to our historical roots, to bring out historically interesting details and shed more light on the architecture. To do so, we must avoid blocking the old masonry with too much furniture. The rooms should have a chance to unfold their effect. For example, we don’t need a red carpet today; the original stone floor beneath it is much more interesting. Also, we would like to reconstruct the old bowfronts and repurpose some of the contorted rooms – as a sauna, for example: a sauna with a vault right next to an atrium, that’s really something special.

Maria, Hermann und Christoph Mayr
Hosts at the Hotel Goldenen Adler

ADLER Historic Guesthouse
Via Ponte Aquila 9
39042 Bressanone, South Tyrol
+39 0472 200 621

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