|On November 20,
1871, the railroad through the Pustertal Valley from Lienz
to Franzensfeste went into service under the management of
the Südbahngesellschaft (Southern Railway Company). In the
first years after the opening of the railroad, the business
expectations of the Hapsburg imperial Südbahngesellschaft
were not fulfilled, and because of that the future market
was based upon tourism. Consequently, the building of a
hotel was taken into consideration as an innovative point of
attraction on the basis of a location favorable to tourism
and of the grandiose scenery in Toblach. Construction
began on the so-called “Südbahnhotel” (“Southern Railway
Hotel”, later the Grand Hotel) on August 25, 1877.
The construction plans came from Wilhelm Ritter from
Flattich, director of the railway’s own Department of
Structural Engineering. Construction costs had to be
strictly limited during a phase of economic recession; thus
the architect had to fall back on his models for railway
hotel went into service with the summer season of 1878. With
a capacity of 80 beds, it was in no way a Grand Hotel but
rather a functional structure with few prestigious elements.
The new leaseholders, Ignaz and Elise Überbacher,
represented a special stroke of luck for the
Südbahngesellschaft, since especially Elise knew how to deal
with guests and staff well. On December 22, 1887, ten years
after opening, the Überbachers purchase a share in the
hotel, and on January 5, 1888 completed their acquisition.
||Prominent figures of
the time also visited Toblach in those years, and this was
naturally of great importance as it conveyed to the
establishment that special aura of nobility. In autumn,
1887, the heir to the German throne, Prince Friedrich, came
to Toblach. Further nobility
such as King Albert of Saxony, the Austrian Crown Princess
Archduchess Stephanie, and King Milan of Serbia, and
consequently it soon became clear that the Hotel Toblach, as
it was known, had transformed itself into the Grand Hotel.
After the death of her husband, Ignaz, in the summer of
1888, Elise became the sole business manager. The
Südbahnhotel became the departure point for tourist mountain
excursions. As a result of substantial investments, Elise
saw to the constant expansion of the establishment
such that the total number of beds reached 350.
the First World War, the Grand Hotel was only
slightly damaged and consequently was transformed into a
military hospital. However, by the end of the war in
November, 1918, the Grand Hotel was in sorry condition, the
infrastructure was in need of renovation, and the
furnishings were worn out. And of course the guests were
missing, only to trickle back beginning in 1924.
Elise died in 1926 at the age of 68. Her son, Max, took her
place but had to file for bankruptcy in 1932. The Grand
Hotel was put up for auction in 1934. The property
investment bank of Venezia Tridentia took over the hotel for
the time being. The hotel operations, though, nevertheless
continued under the direction of Elise’s daughter and
son-in-law. Fortunately, a phase of economic growth
followed, and the Italians discovered Toblach as an
Alpine Mecca of summer tourism.
In the following years, the Grand Hotel frequently underwent
changes of ownership: first the umbrella organization of
fascist party organizations, then the cartographic and
geographic service of the Italian army. Later the
establishment became property of the state, which ceded its
use to the papal relief organization. This group used the
building as a summer headquarters for needy children.
1991, after numerous recommendations, a development program
was finally accepted by the South Tyrolean provincial
government whose results may be observed today.
composer Gustav Mahler (1860 - 1911) visited Toblach
in 1908 as a summer guest. He was undergoing an extremely
difficult period of his life and suffered from a heart
condition. At the Trenkerhof, Mahler found peace and quiet
for three summers, and it was there that he composed Das
Lied von der
||Erde and the 9th
Symphony. His unfinished 10th symphony was also begun there.
Mahler died in June, 1911. The large music auditorium with
excellent acoustics in the Grand Hotel Toblach’s new
Cultural Center is dedicated to him.