Bludenz

Market place and heart of five alpine valleys

In 830, Bludenz was first mentioned in the so-called “Churrätisches Reichsurbar” document as “Pludono” and “Pluteno”. In 1265, Bludenz was officially established as a town by the Counts of Werdenberg, the town charter was awarded by Hugo I. von Werdenberg in 1274.

Duke Frederick IV. (Frederick of the empty pockets), having been put under imperial ban at the Council of Constance, escaped from Constance across the Arlberg Mountain to Tyrol. He spent the 30th of March, 1416 in Bludenz (legends tell of his plea to be allowed into the town at the Upper Gate).

In 1420, the former County of Bludenz came under Austrian rule. In 1525, the Protestant reformation failed in Bludenz. The Hapsburg Monarchy reigned Bludenz alternately from Tyrol and Anterior Austria (Freiburg im Breisgau).

In 1444 and again in 1491, the town was completely destroyed by fire, including the town gates, castle (later a baroque castle) and the St. Laurentius Church. On 1 November 1638, the town was once again almost completely destroyed by fire. Only the Upper Gate and two adjacent houses as well as the church and castle were saved. In 1682, another fire destroyed most of the town’s wooden houses.

In October 1730, the Tyrolean Baron of the Holy Roman Empire, Franz Andreas von Sternbach, having grown rich as a mining entrepreneur, acquired the joint “Pfandhersschaft” (pledge lordship) of Bludenz-Sonnenberg.

19th and 20th century.

From 1806 to 1814, the town was first ceded to Bavaria, then again returned to Austria.  
After its annexation to Bavaria in 1806, Bludenz fell under the jurisdiction of the Sonnenberg Land Court that was seated in Nüziders until 1810, afterwards in Bludenz. After returning to the Austrian Federation in 1814, the Barons of Sternbach lost the right of high justice. In 1854, they relinquished the rest of their feudal tenure - the Gayenhofen Castle remained however in their possession until 1936.

From 1943 onward, the tower of the Church of the Holy Cross was used as an air-watch base, another air-watch station was erected on the Muttersberg Mountain. In 1943/44, anti-aircraft guns were stationed at the Bürser Transformer Station as well as at the Bludenz Train Station and air-raid shelters were built in Unterstein and Mokry.

In May 1945, Bludenz was liberated from NS rule by French troops. From 1945 to 1955 it was part of the French occupation zone. In June 1946, 182 political prisoners were still being detained in the Bludenz District (Rungelin and Bings Camps). Several inmates of the Rungelin Camp are said to have laid out the so-called “Politischer Weg” (Political Path) as well as to have carried out some forest work in the Letziwald Forest above Lorüns.