The emperor’s largest “Stuben”

The geopolitical location – the place is, so to speak, the “good room of connection” of Vorarlberg with the neighboring country Tyrol and thus to the rest of Austria – and the situation at the foot of two passes are specific features.

Documented the name Stuben first appeared in 1330. But already at the Reichstag in Ulm in 1218, Count Hugo von Montfort handed over the territory of Stuben to the Knights of St. John in Klösterle with the stipulation to build a shelter for travelers at the foot of the Arlberg and grant them fire, water and shelter.

At the beginning of the 14th century began a sudden increase in traffic. At Hall in Tyrol, a new saline was created and the Arlberg developed into a Via Salaria to eastern Switzerland. Stuben became the transit point of a flourishing movement of goods. In the winter months, the salt was transported on sleds. For the preservation of the pathway the merchants above Stuben “ze Eggen” had to pay a certain toll, for a rider 1 Kreuzer and for a sumpter 2 Kreuzer. Transit duties and cartage costs brought the Stubners considerable revenue.
For food and drink of the passing was also taken care of, because in an old document it says:

“There are a number of taverns at the foot of the Arlenberg, and that is very necessary there …”.

The heavy traffic across the Arlberg, which did not even stop in winter as a result of the newly emerging salt trade, demanded many sacrifices. For hours no hostel could be reached and those who got into a sudden snowstorm were lost. The next lodgings, Stuben and St. Jakob, lay miles away from each other.

In the time of the Hapsburgs the village of Stuben was called “The Emperor’s largest parlors”. The place name reflects in an apt way the characteristic essence of this settlement: to provide security, shelter and warmth for those who seek the homely feeling of the “Stube” for either resting as transients or relaxing as tourists.

The warmth of the nest is not only characterised by the idyllic narrowness of the size of the village and the terrific framing with the Erzberg, the Albona and the Trittkopf, but rather by the warmth and friendship of the Stubners, who cultivate a centuries-long tradition of hospitality.

The famous sons of Stuben

It was two pairs of brothers who carried their ski talents into the world. All four had one thing in common, they came from the 100 souls mountain village Stuben am Arlberg. They were instrumental in making the village the “cradle of alpine skiing“.

Hannes and Friedrich Schneider

The first brother is known as the master of skiing and has laid the foundation for today’s worldwide ski school with the invention of the stem turn and later with his “Arlberg technique”. Moreover he became world famous through his acting successes in over 15 movies. His home village was mostly used as a movie set and because if him Stuben therefore became the “cradle of the first mountain sports movies”. With his unique personality and exceptional talent for skiing, he formed the basis for today’s international ski tourism.

In honor of Hannes Schneider, a bronze statue was erected in his birthplace, Stuben am Arlberg in December 2012, to commemorate his eventful life and his worldwide service to alpine skiing.

Brother Friedrich was the first downhill winner of the Arlberg Kandahar race, which still exists today and was brought to life by Hannes Schneider. The Arlberg Kandahar race as an Alpine combination is considered as the birth of alpine racing. In 1924 Friedrich Schneider founded the ski school Stuben am Arlberg, one of the first ski schools in the world. In 1928 he handed over the school to Albert Walch and managed with a (war) interruption the ski school Zürs until 1969.

 

Willi and Emil Walch

Willi Walch appeared in many skiing movies as a young, foolhardy but nameless skier. He already won the downhill and the combination at the Madloch races in Lech at an early age. Later he won numerous international races which are still important until today, like: 1937 each Wengen and Kitzbühel, 1938 he won four combinations in Kitzbühel, Wengen, Megève and on the Feldberg. Furthermore he won the combination of the Austrian Championship in Murau. In the following year he won the downhill and the combination in Kitzbühel, as well as the downhills in Garmisch and Luchon and also the combination in Wengen. Many more podium positions followed. Before he was called up into the Wehrmacht, he reached 3rd place in the downhill race of St. Anton at the end of season, although he previously had not been able to participate in races for a while because of a broken leg. He spent a lot of time at the ski workshop of Hannes Schneider, where he developed the Willi Walch binding.
Emil Walch was also a successful ski racer. When Emil finished his racing career he resumed his profession as a kiln manufactorer, where his entrepreneurial talent prevailed. So he also took over the “Gasthaus zum Mondschein”, as it was called at the time by his brother Fridolin. An original tiled stove build by Emil has been preserved until today in the “Alte Gaststube” in our restaurant. Another copy can be found in the so-called “Fuchsloch”, the former ski school office and home of Friedrich Schneider.

He was the main initiator for the construction of the ski lift “Albonabahn” in Stuben and became its first managing director. The construction of this lift in such an exposed terrain was a masterpiece of ropeway construction at that time which also laid the foundation of the qualitative winter tourism in Stuben and the Arlberg region.

The Albona, the local mountain of Stuben, still serves as a film set and well-known ski and snowboard manufacturers from all over the world test their equipment on the 1000 meter high and  treeless slopes. Guests from over 30 nations enjoy the unique charm of the small ski village. The Hotel Mondschein still is a popular venue for skiing enthusiasts who are still telling their skier stories at the old tiled stove by Emil Walch after nearly a hundred years.

The hotel, which was first mentioned in 1739, stands for tradition and innovation at the same time. The state-of-the-art refurbishment sets an next-best example for the country’s energy institute. The hotel has been extended to a four-star standard – the old room with the tiled stove, the open fireplace and the (wine) cellars have been remained. The old lounge in the Mondschein is still a restaurant and the floor still creaks the same as it did then. The old skiers from the pioneering days can be admired everywhere in the building and also the Willi Walch binding is present.