Pilgrimage to Bildstein, Austria, 5-2014

Today is Mother’s Day and this morning Franz & I set off for a short morning walk and a breath of refreshing air. And fresh it was. Blustery fresh to the point of cold. The wind was blowing across Lake Constance as we drove a short ways to the next small mountain, actually a hill around these parts, called Bildstein (picture stone) in the nearby village of Wolfurt. Bildstein (659m) sits on a small hilltop with a commanding view of the Rhine Valley. Its known for its lovely twin towered Baroque Church that crowns the perch and is a well known Marian pilgrimage site.

The story goes back that in the early 1600’s at the height of the plague that was sweeping across the area a local farmer in the midst of hardship prayed to the Virgin Mary that his family be spared the black death and that in return he swore to build a church in her honor. Twenty five years passed and a church had not yet been erected. So the Virgin Mary appeared to the farmers two young sons at the site where a small chapel sits today and spoke to the brothers beckoning them to remember a promise once made. So the brothers astonished by what had transpired returned home and their father upon hearing the story understood that he had not yet fulfilled his earlier promise. He soon began the building of the Bildstein church that still stands today in honor of the Virgin Mary and that long ago made promise. I think it’s such a lovely story and and no church has anything over this house of worship that occupies such a picturesque spot to gaze upon the beauty of nature.
The small village of Bildstein dates back to 1379 and the old houses that surround the churchyard are charming. They are styled with Bregenzerwald wooden shingles and brightly painted shutters complete with lovingly tended gardens. Two gardens I found especially charming and reflected the unique character of their owners. One of them is a gnome garden. The yard is filled with gnomes of every shape, color, and size. And the owner has made several different settings and themes for the varied grouping that adorn the grounds.

gnome garden Bildstein

But my favorite is the brown skinned (like me!) gnome. A small statement on diversity.

brown gnome complete

My second favorite is another cute garden that is filled with kitchen implements of all kinds. Old pots and pans, buckets, metal cans, rusted farming machinery parts, colored glass bottles, dogs, cats, an aviary, and all set against the backdrop of an old beautiful wooden farmhouse. It’s certainly one of a kind.


From the small village are a series of easy hiking trails that surround the area and one can explore the high moor area called the “Farnacher Moos”. There are also several small restaurants that serve up local fare where one can soak up the small village vibes.


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