© Hermann Drexel
With its 401 inhabitants (2010) and an area of 0.112 kilometres, Rattenberg is the smallest town in Austria. It is one of the few towns in Europe that have been able to maintain their medieval character and layout almost in their entirety.
Rattenberg was first mentioned in chronicles in 1254. In 1393 it was awarded the status of an Upper Bavarian town.
Between the Fels and Inn river, at the foot of a tenth century castle (the most important fortification of the Bavarian Lower Inn Valley),
the town fulfilled the function of a crossroads: the main routes from Bavaria and Salzburg met here. In addition to the roads came the river traffic on the Inn: Rattenberg posessed its own quayside, acting as a trading post and centre for the levying of border tolls between Tirol and Bavaria. A toll was imposed both on carriages and ships.
Supported by the castle fortification, urban development took place along the road between the Inn and the mountain; the town area was
enclosed within a wall and a trench to the East. The Südtiroler Street, leading eastwards, developed into a sort of city centre.
Flooding led to the raising of land level in various parts of the town. The historic centre of Rattenberg is built in the typical Inn-Salzach style.
This type of architecture has been particulary well preserved in this little town.
Until 1504 Rattenberg belonged to Bavaria. After this date, under Kaiser Maximilian I, the court districts of Rattenberg, Kufstein and Kitzbühel fell to Tirol.
Today Rattenberg is famous for its glass works. The former Augustine Monastery is now home to the Augustine Museum, which displays both Tyrolean
ecclesiastical artifacts and contemporary art. A craft museum is housed within the old smithy buildings that have stood since 1148 - thus being
among the oldest buildings of the town. Since the Middle Ages, Rattenberg has possesed its own judiciary and is today the seat of the Regional Court.
Several majestic churches bear witness to times of flourishing commerce. The whole town is not only a historical gem, but also an intimate urban area,
where life is very much in tune with the present day, and innovative music and art are presented at an international level.
With the Augustine Museum, the annual Castle Theatre Festival (Schlossbergspielen) in the summer and the international Festival for New Music
and Audio Art "avantgarde tirol", this little town may rightfully claim to be the centre of the cultural region of Rattenberg am Inn.
In the Augustine Museum and in the bookshop Robert Armütter you may purchase the
„Rattenberg City Guide (Stadtführer)”
by Hermann Drexel, which is particulary directed to those guests who are interested in art, history and architecture.