Sunday, July 1, 2012

Lake Reschensee and the Drowned Village of Graun

A fourteenth century medieval tower rises out of Lake Reschensee, only a few miles from the Swiss and Austrian borders, in Italy. The steeple of the submerged bell tower is the only visible building of the once thriving village of Graun. In the middle of the last century, the entire town along with 163 homes and the 14th century church had to be sacrificed to make way for a new dam that would increase electricity production.

In 1939, the electric company Montecatini announced plans for a 22-meter deep lake, which would unify two natural lakes - Reschensee and Mittersee -  and submerge several villages, including Graun and part of Reschen. Naturally, the locals were none too happy. They fought the flooding tooth and nail but despite the resistance the plan was approved and in 1950 the land was flooded. 523 hectare of cultivated ground and 163 houses were drowned. Lots of families, in spite of the little money the company gave them, had a present with no future. Some moved away, some others tried to build a new life and home in upper Graun, where they still live today.

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Today, the beautiful bell tower peeking up from the Reschen lake´s water, represents one of the most loved places to take pictures in Vischgau. In the winter, when the water freezes, the tower can be reached on foot. Although nature´s wounds have been healed quite fast, the ones in people´s hearts especially the ones who saw their home sinking, are still there. A legend says that during winter one can still hear church bells ring. In reality the bells were removed from the tower on July 18, 1950, a week before the demolition of the church nave and the creation of the lake.

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Sources: 1, 2, 3

Also read: Qiandao Lake: The Thousand Island Lake and Ancient Submerged Cities

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