hotel Pragser Wildsee looks back on over a
century of hospitality. It was built by Eduard
Hellenstainer, the eldest son of the renowned Tyrolian
innkeeper “Frau Emma”, and opened on July 10, 1899.
Designed by the respected Viennese architect Otto Schmid,
the hotel is an architectural landmark.
Guests were not long in coming to the grand hotel — including the highest echelons of the Austrohungarian aristocracy. The heir apparent to the throne, Grand Duke Franz Ferdinand, stayed at the Pragser Wildsee with his family and entourage. Only a short time later, on June 28, 1914, his assassination in Sarajevo marked the beginning of World War I.
The hotel is also connected with the widely known history of the hostages from the Dachau concentration camp who were transported to the South Tryol by the SS at the end of World War II. The 139 prisoners from 17 European countries, who included prominent citizens as well as relatives of enemies of the Nazi regime, were liberated from the German Army in nearby Niederdorf on April 30, 1945. The hôtelière Emma Heiss-Hellenstainer received the prisoners at the Pragser Wildsee the same day, as a first step in their return to freedom and their peacetime lives.
The Hotel Pragser Wildsee houses an archive of local
history where guests can trace the dramatic events of
the time at the original location, as they explore the
area where European history was made over sixty years
The Pragser Wildsee Historic Archives, which have
been located in the hotel since the summer of 2006, bear
witness to the hotel’s historic location and
surroundings. The rich collections are devoted to the
following historical topics:
– Early tourism in the Upper Puster Valley, in which the Hellenstainer family plays a major role;
– The pioneering days of alpinism in the Dolomites around Prags, first explored by the famous Austrian climbers Paul Grohmann (1838–1908) and Dr. Victor Wolf Edler von Glanvell (1871–1905),
– The Dolomite front in World War I, which ran near the hotel;
– The transport of special prisioners from Dachau concentration camp to the Dolomites as hostages. As the prisoners’ first lodgings after their liberation, the hotel became a model of European unity.
A library connected with the archives is also open to interested hotel guests. The hotel also serves as a venue for historical conferences and seminars organized by the archives.