The Hotel Lago di Braies can look back on more than a hundred years of success. The Grand Hotel was built by Eduard Hellenstainer on behalf of his mother, the famous Tyrolean innkeeper Emma Hellenstainer (1817-1904), who made a name for herself as “Mrs. Emma” as a pioneer of the early Tyrolean tourism.

The famous Viennese architect Otto Schmid was commissioned with the design of the house and created a unique work of art with the construction of the Hotel Lago di Braies. With its simple and radiant architecture, it blends beautifully into the alpine mountain landscape.

The establishment was opened on July 10, 1899. Guests from the highest aristocratic circles of the Danube Monarchy spent long summer nights here. For example, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, resided in the Hotel Lago di Braies with his family and entourage

The hotel’s historical legacy is closely linked to the history of the well-known hostage transport at the end of World War II. 139 prominent prisoners from 17 European countries were held hostage by the SS in the Dachau National Socialist concentration camp and taken to the “Alpine Fortress” of South Tyrol. On April 30, 1945, the prisoners in Villabassa were liberated by the German Wehrmacht and brought to Lago di Braies. Here, the hotel owner Emma Heiss-Hellenstainer welcomed the prisoners and made it possible for them to “return to life”.


Contemporary History Archive Lago di Braies – a journey back in time

European history was written in the Hotel Lago di Braies more than seventy years ago. As a guest of our establishment, you can relive these historical events and the dramatic happenings of that time in their original setting. The “Contemporary History Archive Lago di Braies”, which was founded in the summer of 2006, is devoted to the following topics of contemporary history:

  • Early tourism in Alta Pusteria
  • The beginning of alpinism in the Braies Dolomites: Following the footsteps of Paul Grohmann (1838-1908) and Dr. Victor Wolf Edler von Glanvell (1871-1905)
  • The Dolomites front in the First World War
  • Transport and liberation of the family and special prisoners from Dachau concentration camp.

A reference library is attached to the archive, which can be accessed by interested hotel guests. The hotel also serves as a venue for symposia and seminars organized by the Contemporary History Archive.