Woodcarving in Val Gardena

Long lasting tradition since the 17th century

In Val Gardena woodcarving is an old tradition. For more than two centuries wood carvers in Val Gardena have been producing sculptures that are known all over the world. In this small valley in South Tyrol called Val Gardena the artworks created out of wood are a symbol of tradition and quality and made it possible for Val Gardena to be considered the international center for woodcarving. Already back in the 17th century a part of the population began to carve wooden figurines. Soon the first dynasties of people making altars, as well as, sacral and profane sculptures were born. These creations can still be admired all over the world in churches and private homes. Up to today a lot of talented artists have been manufacturing woodcarvings, preserving this old tradition and at the same being always looking for innovation and originality.

Val Gardena’s woodcarvers

Val Gardena’s woodcarvers In Val Gardena the woodcarving tradition has been passed on from generation to generation and there are still many artists that inherited their talent for wood carving from their ancestors. The woodcarving activity began in the 16th century when farming families began to carve little wooden animals or toys as a complementary activity to be carried out during the long and cold winter months. From the 17th century the art of woodcarving started to develop, especially through the studies and work carried out by the members of two families, the Trebingers and the Vinatzers, who are known as the promoters of this tradition. Through their studies at European art academies they were able to improve the carving technique and the woodcarving tradition in Val Gardena began to shape its identity. Form this moment on not only small animals and toys were carved, but the artists began to create impressive altars and beautiful statues of any shape. Also in the 19th century many manufacturers from the valley attended the arts academies in Vienna or Munich. This training of numerous artists - all coming from one and the same valley - lead to the development of a world-famous woodcarving tradition.

Ortisei in Val Gardena

Ortisei in Val Gardena The biggest village in Val Gardena is Ortisei with its 4,753 inhabitants (census of the 31st of January 2015). It is an attractive tourist destination for skiing but also well known for summer holidays. Ortisei is located in the province of Bolzano at 1,236 m above sea level and is surrounded by the majestic mountains of the Dolomites which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage. What’s more, the beautiful town is not only known for its spectacular nature but also for its history and its woodcarving tradition. Many people in Val Gardena are artists who spend their time creating objects made out of wood. The activity of woodcarving has been passed on from generation to generation since the 17th century and up to today in the three villages of Val Gardena (Ortisei, Santa Cristina and Selva) you can find world-famous ateliers. A great help for the evolution of this art was the institution of the professional school for woodcarving, founded in 1872 by the young woodcarver Ferdinand Demetz. After World War II a new way of production was established as a result of the growing demand for woodcarvings. Modern machines helped to increase the production to be able to satisfy the big demand, but without reducing the quality. Nowadays the woodcarvers of Val Gardena preserve this tradition which is unique in the world and create their works of art using specific machines or by merely hand-carving, to be able to offer a vast product range of sacral and profane sculptures.