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Village stories

Village stories

Village stories

While enjoying an Umgang village walk through Lingenau and along the Subersach river in a gorge composed of tufa formations, you will encounter 37 storytelling benches, where you can listen to stories told by locals on your smartphone.

“It’s a beautiful trail,” says my wife, “especially since it boasts such wonderful views into or out of the village.” As we walk away from the centre of Lingenau, we are quite pleased to come across two handsome inns, the “Traube” and the “Adler.” “You can invite me to dinner at the end of the Umgang walk,” she says happily. “I could do that now if you like…” I say in rely. “After all, the first rust-coloured info column, which points out an architecturally remarkable property, is dedicated to the ‘Wälderhof’ inn. I happen to know that in addition to being a special building, the food here is also excellent.

Since we are not yet hungry, we head to the church instead and we are not disappointed: it turns out to be extraordinary. Although the church is traditional on the outside, one is surprised to see such a modern interior following renovations carried out just a little over ten years ago. The design of the altar and ambo with various stones from the region is particularly beautiful. “Do you know the story behind the water here?” my wife asks. “It flows from the baptismal font and symbolises the River Jordan, where Jesus was baptised by John. And John, the patron saint of the church, also appears in the stained glass windows, which were designed by the painter Konrad Honold from Schruns.”

I smile and further inform her that we will encounter this artist once again on our tour. “How do you know all this?” she asks. “Very simple, I have prepared in advance,” I confess. After visiting a beautifully renovated house, we find ourselves in front of the Käsekeller Bregenzerwald, a building which was dug into the hillside and was planned by Oskar Leo Kaufmann (also a native of the Bregenzerwald, of course). “Thirty-three thousand cheese loaves are supposed to be stored here,” says my wife, highlighting her own expertise. “Did you know that mountain cheese from Vorarlberg is not the same as Vorarlberg mountain cheese? You can buy mountain cheese from Vorarlberg anywhere, but Vorarlberg mountain cheese boasts a protected designation of origin.” I nod to my wife, signalling that I am clearly impressed.

A little further on towards the village, we spot the St. Anna Chapel, a central building based on a Greek cross. It is very pretty to look at, harmonises with the landscape, and is built of Lingenau tufa formations. From the chapel, an educational trail leads along the Subersach river to this rock type, which forms high walls and sinter basins. There is also a covered wooden bridge over the Subersach dating from 1833, which was planned by the Suez Canal builder Alois Negrelli. Yet, for the moment, let us return our attention to the St. Anna Chapel. In the somewhat strange ceiling painting, one sees a depiction of Bruno Wechner, who was Bishop of Vorarlberg at the time of its elevation to a diocese in 1968. He surrounded by a dozen bishops and local saints. Just like in the church, the artist is Konrad Honold.

When I am finished explaining all this to my wife, she says somewhat pointedly: “You and your stories, half of which you probably make up!” Which leads me to respond aptly: “Storytelling in Lingenau is something special. After all, throughout the village there are special storytelling benches. If you take a seat, you can listen to stories via your smartphone. No less than 37 storytellers, all from Lingenau and aged between eight and ninety, bring their tales to life. It is a unique project which has already been awarded several prizes. At this point of our tour, just two stations featuring the Umgang columns are still missing: the building of an insurance company with an apartment block and a single-family house. The large building was designed by Hermann Kaufmann, the other by his cousin Oskar Leo Kaufmann. They were built about one and a half decades ago and both are indicative of contemporary building culture in the Bregenzerwald. At the last building, we conclude a particularly pleasant approx. 2-hour walk through the village. Naturally, my wife reminds me of my initial promise to buy her a meal at one of the Lingenau inns. Sounds good to me!

Author: Walter Fink
Issue: Bregenzerwald Travel Magazine – Summer 2021